The more the merrier in downtown Wilmette as 3 more businesses have plans to move in
Wilmette’s Village Center continues to bulk up.
Three more businesses — Orvis, Ni’s Kitchen, and Bleachers Sports, Music and Framing — will join the downtown district in the coming months. Also moving into the district, as The Record reported in March, are retail shops Chantilly Lace and Hanig’s Footwear and, also reported in March, restaurant Small Cheval, which will eventually replace Depot Nuevo in Wilmette’s historic train station.
Orvis, an outdoors gear and apparel brand, is opening a storefront in the former home of Jos. A. Bank at 1199 Wilmette Ave; Ni’s Kitchen (Vietnamese) will open at 708 12th St., where The Noodle served diners for 32 years until 2022; and Bleachers Sports, Music and Framing is taking over a storefront in Optima Center, 1100 Central Ave.
“Downtown Wilmette has become one of the go-to destinations on the North Shore, so when businesses are looking (for space), it is a logical space to be,” Wilmette Village Manager Mike Braiman said. “There is so much energy and vitality.”
Orvis is an international retailer that has been around since the 1800s and sells everything from fishing equipment to men’s and women’s clothing to dog products.
The Wilmette location, which Orvis’ website says will open this spring, will be the Vermont-based company’s fourth in Illinois — two of which are in Chicago.
Orvis will occupy a visible storefront adjacent to Panera at the corner of Wilmette Avenue and Polar Drive. The space formerly housed Jos. A. Bank, which closed in 2020 when the corporate chain declared bankruptcy.
Braiman said the key to filling the vacancy, as well as others in the downtown, was a “commitment that this was going to be a retail or a restaurant.”
“There was a lot of interest from doctors offices, physical therapy and other institutional uses,” he said, “but that is not the priority in our downtown. So making sure the right use came along and being patient was important.”
Ni’s Kitchen recently installed an awning announcing its Vietnamese cuisine. Braiman said it intends to be a full-service restaurant complete with indoor seating and service.
The corner space on 12th Avenue adjacent to Ouilmette Way was occupied by The Noodle, an Italian restaurant, from 1990 to 2022.
It is unclear when Ni’s will open.
A longtime storefront in Winnetka, Bleachers Sports, Music and Framing is migrating to Wilmette.
Bleachers is building out a storefront in Optima Center, 1100 Central Ave. The space was most recently occupied by At Properties and Christie’s International Real Estate, which in January relocated to 30 Green Bay Road in Winnetka.
Bleachers owner Keith McDonough said the 30-year-old business briefly moved to Evanston, where it was by appointment-only, but found a more appropriately sized space in Wilmette.
Bleachers specializes in sports and music memorabilia, as well as framing and cards, and hopes to open by May.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319