Ferrero, manufacturer of cocoa hazelnut spread Nutella, will open its first restaurant in Chicago later this month.
The Nutella Cafe will open May 31 at 151 North Michigan Ave., one block north of Millennium Park. To mark the occasion, chef Rocco DiSpirito will host a public celebration, and the first 400 visitors will receive one free select menu item, along with a chance for other special surprises.
The cafe’s menu will feature Italian dishes with and without Nutella, which has gained a near cult following in the United States. Available items include grilled baguettes with Nutella, fresh-roasted hazelnut and blueberry granola with yogurt and Nutella, "panzanella" fruit salad, and gelato affogato, a dollop of Fior di Latte topped with Nutella. There will also be a selection of savory dishes such as paninis, salads and other unique specialties.
"We wanted to create a world of Nutella for our fans that could truly capture the essence of the brand — not just in the dishes that will be served, but in the full experience from the moment you step into the space," says Noah Szporn, head of marketing Nutella North America. "The Nutella Cafe offers something for everybody, and we encourage everyone to come in and try a dish or snack. We hope Nutella enthusiasts, Chicagoans and visitors enjoy the cafe as much as we enjoyed creating it."
Created in 1964 by Michele Ferrero, Nutella is based on the recipe for gianduja developed in 1946 by Pietro Ferrero, Michele’s father and founder of Ferrero. Nutella was introduced to the U.S. market in 1983 and has since become the No. 1 branded hazelnut spread in the country.
Chicago has become a hotspot for confectionery-branded cafes and restaurants. In 2015, New York-based Dylan’s Candy Bar opened a café and retail store in the Tribune Tower, a couple blocks north of Fannie May’s flagship location, which was remodeled last year to include seating and cafe-style offerings. Ghirardelli also launched an ice cream shop and retail store in the Wrigley Building, across the street from the Tribune Tower.
Other major confectionery brands have opened branded food service operations in hopes of developing new avenues to connect with customers. Godiva has a cafe in London high-end department store Harrod’s, and Italian group Loacker has launched seven Loacker Stores, a hybrid of a coffee shop, pastry shop and retail outlet, offering consumers coffee, pastries, a limited café menu and an opportunity to peruse the entire Loacker product line.