Fannie May’s flagship store in the heart of downtown Chicago has gotten another facelift in time for the holiday season.

The 2,400-sq.-ft. store, located at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, now features an open floor plan and simple, elegant décor meant to draw new and repeat customers to the iconic Chicago brand, owned by 1-800-Flowers.

Dave Taiclet, president of 1-800-Flowers’ Gourmet Food Group, says it’s been a decade since the store’s last overhaul, which tripled its square footage. This time, however, the focus was on changing the store’s flow and adding seating for customers to enjoy new items.

“We felt it was an opportunity for us to share some of our other great confection items that we make -- our chocolate-dipped strawberries, our ice cream products,” he says. “In this case, we added a café so we could serve coffee and have desserts and breakfast items as well.”

As soon as customers enter the store, they’re met with a counter where they can purchase tea, coffee and hot chocolate, as well as desserts based off of Fannie May staples. Six red stools and a long table also line a window facing Michigan Ave., which allow patrons to watch traffic while they enjoy their sweets.

Along the store’s far wall is a display case featuring backlit photos of Fannie May chocolates. Its shelves are stocked with a variety of gift packages.

The store still has its signature “create-your-own” box counter, Taiclet says, but it’s not the focal point, as it was in the previous design.

“When a customer walks in, they’ll see a much more open environment,” he says. “It allows people to walk around the store more and see our vast array of product.”

That includes new dessert items. Fannie May worked with Bittersweet Bakery, another Chicago company, to create tarts and cakes that pull from classic Fannie May flavors. Sundaes, milk shakes and ice cream sandwiches are also available. Among the new desserts are:

  • Pixie Joy: Chocolate cake covered in caramel and layered with caramel pecans and chocolate ganache.

  • Trinidad Treasure: Flourless chocolate cake with chocolate coconut crunch and dark chocolate mousse.

  • Sea Salt Caramel Tart: Pastry shell filled with house-made caramel sauce and topped with dark chocolate ganache and sea salt.

  • Mint Meltaways Layer Cake: Flourless chocolate cake and white chocolate mint frosting topped with dark chocolate.

  • Vanilla Buttercream Bonne Bouchée: Meringue buttercream with layers of chocolate ganache on a flourless cake base enveloped in dark chocolate.

Taiclet says the development team underwent many trials to get “unique” products that reflect the Fannie May tradition.
“We think it’s a way of attracting customers to our brand where they’ll come back and see us a number of times,” he says.
As one of the busiest thoroughfares in Chicago, Michigan Ave. offers plenty of traffic -- and business potential. However, the confectionery competition has stiffened in that corridor in the last two years.
In 2015, New York-based Dylan’s Candy Bar opened a café and retail store in the Tribune Tower, a couple blocks north of the Fannie May location. Ghirardelli also launched an ice cream shop and retail store in the Wrigley Building, across the street from the Tribune Tower.
Nonetheless, Taiclet says the response has been favorable since the Fannie May flagship reopened Nov. 23, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Sales are up, Taiclet adds.
“We’re seeing lots more people come in to get a view, and of course, we’ve done a lot of marketing around our new concept,” he says.
If it proves successful, Fannie May will introduce the café-style desserts and seating at some of its other locations.
“We’re just really excited about the possibilities we have in the future with this concept and where we can roll that out,” Taiclet says.