Tell us a little about yourself and Firehouse Grill.
I own the restaurant with my husband, Pat Fowler. Pat and I are Evanston natives and continue to live a few blocks away from Firehouse Grill. We purchased the Firehouse in 2017. Firehouse originally opened in 2000 after being a number of other concepts. The building itself is the former Evanston Fire Station #2, which moved down the street from our location. We are a neighborhood family restaurant and bar serving up Americana classics with modern twists.
Why did you decide to open a restaurant in Evanston?
As mentioned previously, we purchased the restaurant in 2017. We own another restaurant, Candlelite, in the Rogers Park area. Pat has been in the restaurant industry since 2009 with Candlelite. We have always wanted to have a place in Evanston, so when Firehouse was up for sale, we went for it.
What dish is your signature dish and why that particular dish?
Our half pound angus beef burger is what we are known for in the area. Our juicy burger on a pretzel roll with a side is our best seller. We also have great salads, sandwiches, entrees, and Detroit style pizza.
What do you think when you hear someone say: “I think owning a restaurant looks like fun”?
I think they are only seeing the social component of interacting with guests, which is the fun part. It’s really hard work operating a restaurant though, and when you add in a pandemic it just got that much more difficult. Restaurateurs are resilient by nature, and that’s forced a lot more creativity and that’s fun too!
Give us 3 words that would best describe your restaurant?
Friendly, tasty, welcoming.
What is one dish kids like the most on your menu?
Of course, the kids love our burgers too. We have a smaller version of our signature burger (rookie burger) that is a top seller. We also see lots of our homemade Mac N’ Cheese being devoured by children and adults too!
What is your favorite thing about running a restaurant?
This definitely is the relationships we foster with our regular customers as well as the community, its organizations and schools. We take pride about the countless organizations we are able to help with fundraising activities. We and our staff also love seeing all the familiar faces that come back and the relationships we develop with our regulars.
If you could give advice to someone thinking about opening their own restaurant for the first time, what would it be?
My advice would be to tell them that they should work in one first, like both Pat and I did (I was a server for years), so they can get a taste of what it’s like before taking the plunge.
For people that haven’t visited your restaurant yet, what would you like them to know about your restaurant?
We are a family restaurant, run by a family that considers all of our employees a part of it. We hope our customers can feel that in the atmosphere and enjoy their time and meal here in a welcoming environment.