Ike Robertson opened Ridgeville Tavern just over a month ago, but he’s been running a bar and restaurant on the same corner of Sherman Avenue and Grove Street for years.
Robertson was the general manager of Bar Louie, which was previously at Ridgeville Square, and when it had to close due to the pandemic, he saw an opportunity.
âI had always wanted to own my own bar and immediately contacted the owner to see if I could rent the space,â said Robertson. âAfter much negotiation, I was able to secure the lease and begin the process of transforming what used to be Bar Louie into Ridgeville Tavern.â
Ridgeville Tavern has made improvements to the space at 1520 Sherman Ave., including including a large glass garage door that opens north onto Grove Street as well as new kiosks, lighting, wallpaper, photographs and a touch of vintage Evanston well-being.
The inspiration for the name “Ridgeville” comes from the geographic history of the community. The area we now know as Evanston was once known as the Civil Township of Ridgeville. It is important for Robertson to commemorate the history of the tavern and to link local history to remind Evanstonians of the town’s past.
Keeping things local is key for Robertson, which is why Ridgeville Tavern has offerings from all three of Evanston’s breweries – Temperance, Sketchbook, and Smylie Brothers – and spirits from FEW.
âI always said we were a bar first and a restaurant second,â said Robertson. âThat’s not to say we don’t have great food, but we like to be known as the local corner bar. We provide a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere where people can spend time for several hours.
The chef of Bar Louie returns
Chef Eric Frost and Robertson designed the menu to be accessible and affordable. Frost ran the kitchen when it was Bar Louie and helped with the transition process.
Some menu favorites include Frost’s risotto donuts, broccoli and kale salad, the tavern’s ham and egg sandwich and for dessert, a homemade carrot cake.
âWe are very happy to be open and to be a part of the Evanston business community,â said Robertson. âWe have already seen a lot of support from locals and former Bar Louie regulars. A lot of the staff have worked with me here before, so it was a really nice transition to see so many familiar faces on both sides of the bar.
Ridgeville Tavern is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 pm to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.