Crate & Barrel, the home decor retailer, is adding a full-service restaurant to its Chicago store.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune citing email comments from Crate & Barrel chief executive Neela Montgomery, the paper reported next year it will open a restaurant at its Oakbrook Center Store. Chicago chef Bill Kim is overseeing the development of the menu, reported the Chicago Tribune.
“As a longtime destination for dining and housewares, we know that our customers love to entertain, and incorporating food and beverage offerings is a natural extension of the Crate & Barrel brand,” CEO Montgomery said in the email.
The new restaurant isn't slated to be open until the spring, but it has already been embroiled in a legal fight with RH, the former Restoration Hardware, which lodged a lawsuit against Crate & Barrel in January of last year contending it’s stealing its ideas for a food and beverage concept. Two executives that left RH and landed at Crate & Barrel and the company's former chief executive Douglas Diemoz are named in the lawsuit. Montgomery told the Chicago Tribune the lawsuits have been resolved and wouldn't provide any more commentary on the matter. She said Crate & Barrel had a coffee shop in one of its Chicago stores more than twenty years ago and noted it’s not a new concept to mix food, beverage, and retail.
The plans for the store which will include the restaurant aren’t final as of yet, but currently include dining space outdoors. Indoor dining is on one level, noted the report. The concept could include cooking demonstrations and events, and the company is looking into the permits needed to enable customers to have a glass of wine as they wait for their table, reported the Chicago Tribune.
“Though we don’t have concrete plans for more restaurants in additional locations at this time, we’re always exploring new ways to offer meaningful moments to our customers beyond the traditional shopping experience,” Montgomery said.
While restaurants inside department stores have been around for a long time, more recently stores have been trying to overhaul the shopping experience to compete against eCommerce. The results, according to the report, have been mixed. While RH is doing well and planning to open additional ones, Barnes & Noble is seeing mixed results. “We do not have a culture of running, operating restaurants ... things like controlling food costs and payroll costs are not in our DNA,” Leonard Riggio, the bookstore retailer’s chairman, said on a conference call with investors last week, according to the paper. “It’s a lot harder than you think it is.”