With the exception of his college years in Iowa, John Enright has lived in Evanston his whole life, and has been a Northwestern fan since he was a kid.
Twelve years ago, when Enright decided to open uphis Evanston bar and restaurant, Bluestone, he knew exactly what and where he wanted it to be.
“I’ve always loved this neighborhood,” said Enright of Central Street. “It’s three blocks from Ryan Field which makes this a Northwestern hang out, but it’s also a cozy, gathering spot for families.”
With its gigantic Northwestern Flag hanging outside the restaurant, a Northwestern “greeter,” which is a mannequin dressed in the Wildcats uniform of the week stands just inside.
“We get a lot of Northwestern coaches and faculty here,” said Enright, who lives just a few blocks away with his wife, Jennifer and their three kids. “During Northwestern games, this is the place to watch. We move all of the furniture out to accommodate the crowds.”
When Northwestern fans aren’t shouting and cheering at game time, Bluestone attracts families and kids early on, and then turns into an older crowd at night.
Known for its signature thin crust pizza, which is hand-rolled, its fresh fish, some comfort food, a large variety of craft beers, and what Enright calls, “nice size cocktails,” Bluestone serves a full menu of appetizers, soups, salads, quesadillas, burgers, sandwiches and desserts for lunch. Additionally, a large variety of entrees is on the dinner menu. All of the dishes are made fresh, with much of the food sourced locally.
Wes Walker and John Dwan are colleagues who do business frequently with Northwestern, and meet for lunch at Bluestone about once a month.
“It’s one of the best turkey Reubens I’ve ever had,” said Walker. “It’s unique and delicious.”
“This is one of my favorite places to come not just for the food, but for the ambiance,” Dwan said. “I love the Caesar salad with salmon, and parmesan crisps on top just make it the best.”
Bluestone’s décor consists of dark woods, exposed brick, a charming fireplace and bluestone floors. Dozens of Chicago paintings line its walls, and hanging all around the room: over 300 golf pin flags from courses all over the world.
With 39 employees, Enright said service is very important, and that when hiring, he looks for “real people.”
“We can train you to wait the table, but you have to have something,” said Enright. “You have to love people. We have so many regulars —people who walk over — this is a mini Cheers, and I have to make sure they are treated great.”
“I come here for the thin crust pizza with anchovies and the craft beer,” said customer, Justin Johnson, who is formerly of Evanston, but who now lives in Morton Grove. “It’s got great food. I just like it here.”
Enright is also the owner of Candlelite, a family pizza restaurant in Rogers Park that he bought 22 years ago.
A film production major at the University of Iowa, Enright worked as a producer of commercials for 12 years before he got into the restaurant business. He had no restaurant experience prior to buying Candlelite.
“I love this business,” he said. “Just seeing the faces of families and people I know is really fun. This is a good vibe here.”