Farmhouse Evanston, the suburban farm-to-table restaurant and sister spot to River North’s now-shuttered Farmhouse Chicago, will permanently close in November after nine years in business. The team will hold its last service, the restaurant’s annual all-day Thanksgiving buffet, on Thursday, November 24, at 703 Church Street in Evanston.
Founded in 2013, two years after its Chicago-based sibling, Farmhouse Evanston exemplified the rustic aesthetic of the era: reclaimed barn wood, hewn metal, and mismatched furniture. Today, however, ownership feels those elements don’t give patrons an accurate portrayal of its upscale, scratch-made cuisine. Following the closure, they plan to turn the page and open a new restaurant in the same location.
“The world has changed a lot,” says co-owner and farmer TJ Callahan. “10 years in restaurant years is a very, very long time. The Gene & Georgettis of the world can run the same concept for 75 years or longer, but they are the outliers. The rest of us need to continue to evolve to stay important to the guests, and the guests need and want change, too.”
That transformation will transcend the as-yet-unnamed new restaurant. In August, an Oklahoma real estate investor purchased the building where the restaurant is located, the Hilton Orrington hotel, for more than $34 million, according to Crain’s. The buyer intends to invest a significant amount of money in renovating and updating the property, says Callahan, so the restaurant must keep pace. “We just wanted to be more contemporary,” he says. “A more sophisticated, brighter, lighter experience.”
Though nearly all details about Farmhouse Evanston’s replacement remain under wraps, patrons can expect to see elements of its Midwestern ethos. Brown Dog Farm, Callahan’s 140-acre farm and restored prairie in southwestern Wisconsin, will continue to provide produce and ingredients. Callahan says the team is using its bounty to create applewood-smoked honey to feature in cocktails or dishes. He also plans to maintain the restaurant’s commitment to the Evanston community and will continue to donate a percentage of proceeds to local nonprofits.
“I feel kind of like how parents feel when their kids are graduating from high school,” Callahan says. “No matter what other wonderful things happen in the future, it won’t be the same thing. But we’re still excited for what’s coming next… We’ll make new history and have new stories to tell.”