Beyond Retail

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Crepe with your Orange Chicken?

Normally you'd probably think of hamburgers, fries, chinese food and cinnamon buns as your typical mall food. But crepes?

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which has pretty much conquered the restaurant scene in Chicago, has recreated Magic Pan, a chain of crepe stands which were apparently quite popular during the 1970's and the rise of malls. The chain began a massive decline, and operated a few stands before shutting down in the 1990's. Apparently there was once a location at the Burlington Mall in the heyday of the chain.

Anyhow, the owner of of Lettuce Entertain You, Rich Melman, was a big fan of the chain and dined there frequency. Years after the last restaurants had closed, Melman bought the recipes and opened a new Magic Pan at the well-known Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Now, one is opening at Northbrook Court, an upscale shopping mall in Northbrook, IL, in suburban Chicago, on August 23.

It's an interesting idea, the rather gourmet food of French crepes available at a food court-styled establishment. The first of the new Magic Pans has been a success at the Mall of America since it opened two years ago, but will it work at an upscale mall like Northbrook, amongst retailers like Louis Vuitton and P.F. Chang's? Or does Magic Pan just modify the basic plan of Cinnabon, offering crepes instead of cinnamon buns? Apparently Chicagoland will find out tomorrow.