For Kurtis Fogel, Monday night means hordes of half-drunk underclassmen storming down Sherman, vying to visit whichever bar would let them in. Whether at Nevin’s Restaurant, where Fogel works as a bouncer and bartender, or one of the other bars nearby, people of all kinds venture downtown for drinks. But on this night, a new standard was set. And he’s happy about it.
“Holy shit, it’s on!” Fogel shouted from outside the bar, pressing his tattered baseball cap up against the bar window to see the TV screen inside. He was on his smoking break, but he could still see the news flashing across the screen: the Keg of Evanston had finally been shut down.
Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl made the decision official Monday when she issued a public statement explaining her decision to revoke the bar’s liquor license. Following Friday’s Liquor Control Board hearing, the town had said its final decision would be pushed until Tuesday. However, the bright orange revocation notice had already been taped to the bar’s door by Monday evening, closing it indefinitely.
By the time the news report reached the TV in Nevin’s, Fogel was giddy.
“It’s just awesome—we’re going to get all their business now,” said Fogel, who has lived in Evanston his whole life.
Northwestern students, who made up a substantial amount of TKOE's business, flocked to Nevin’s Monday to mourn the loss of the bar around the corner. Few of them shared Fogel’s excitement upon hearing the news.
“I think this was a bit drastic—I honestly didn’t think they were going to do it,” said Weinberg senior Dan Mescher. “It seemed like they’d gotten tons of warnings before, but no one was ever going to do anything about it.”
To other students, however, the Keg's closing was long overdue. Communication senior Paris West said she assumed the bar would meet its fate a long time ago.
“I’m just surprised it took them this long to close it,” West said. “It’s sad for Northwestern as a whole, though, because that was the place where underage drinkers always went. Nothing could take the place of the Keg.”
Mixed nostalgia for the closed bar was a common feeling among the students that filled Nevin’s on Monday. For Weinberg senior Simone DeJarnett, the Keg’s absence left a hole that other nearby bars couldn't fill.
“It’s a little sad—the Keg was really a part of Northwestern,” Dejarnett said after making a toast to the bar with her friends. “Yeah, it was a gross bar, but it was our gross bar. It was where we hung out and danced and reminisced.”
Mescher felt differently.
“[The Keg] was the kind of bar you’d regret going to, and I really don’t think I’m going to miss it,” Mescher said. “It was the kind of place you’d never really plan on going to—sometimes you’d just find yourself there.”
No matter what kind of bar the city of Evanston would be losing in the Keg, most agreed that its absence would have a palpable impact on the Northwestern community. Communication senior Jeffrey Hornof said that—in the midst of the uproar over underage drinking—the town ignored a major consequence of the bar’s closing.
“The bigger issue here is what will happen when you take away a place for people to get drunk,” Hornof said. “Underage drinkers will drink wherever they can, and now they’ll just be spending more time drinking at off-campus parties where they’ll upset other residents.”
The question of where underage students will turn for alcohol bothered other Nevin’s patrons, like Weinberg sophomore Alex Jakubowski, who expressed concern in a different way.
“I’m so pissed! I can’t believe she closed it!” Jakubowski yelled to his friends at the bar. “[Mayor Tisdahl] ran on a platform of making residential communities safer and ending residential parties, and instead she shuts down the town’s only dive bar. Now people are going to go to a lot more off-campus parties and get a lot more drinking citations.”
By closing the Keg, Jakobowski said, the town government is putting an unenforced law before the town’s well-being.
“I know illegal things are going on, but is it more important to follow the law to the absolute T, or to do what’s best for the community?” he said. “I think they made the wrong call here.”
It’s anyone’s guess as to where underage drinkers will find booze now, but Fogel is sure it won’t be at Nevin’s. As the news report flashed images of the fake IDs Nevin’s had accumulated, Fogel grinned and boasted about all the ones he’d caught himself.
“We just run a much better business than they did,” he said. “We’re the bar that cards people, and they’re the ones who let in fakes.”