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CHICAGO (CBS) — When La Crêperie first opened in the East Lakeview neighborhood, the Century Mall across the street was still an art deco movie palace, the Gay Pride Parade drew crowds of only about 950, and the community was commonly known as New Town.
Now, the venerable bistro at 2845 N. Clark St. is celebrating 40 years in business as what is considered the oldest family-owned French crêperie in the United States.
The City of Chicago will declare Friday, June 1, as La Crêperie Day. For the occasion, the restaurant will roll back prices of its crêpes to 1972 – but it will be cash only.
The restaurant is also planning a private reception that evening, followed by a special brunch and musical entertainment on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3.
“Preparing and serving crepes is very rewarding and we are grateful to our loyal customers who have celebrated with us over the years,” Germain Roignant, the owner La Crêperie since it opened, said in a news release.
Roignant and his daughter-in-law and managing partner, Yasmina Ksikes, spoke with the American Maitre d’ blog about the history of La Crêperie last winter.
When the restaurant opened in 1972, a salad cost only 50 cents, and people ordered two salads as a full meal, Roignant told the blog. At the time, the New Town neighborhood was the epicenter of Chicago’s gay community, but Roignant told the blog the particular location he chose was “run down.”
But in February 1973, a newspaper article drew huge crowds, leading the restaurant to expand with a back room and a patio in the backyard, he told the blog.
“They knew the crepes and they knew us, and that compensated for the rest,” Roignant told American Maitre d’. “When people came here, they felt at home for an hour and a half.”
Today, the neighborhood around La Crêperie is undergoing a new transformation. A CVS drugstore will soon take over most of the ground floor of the Century Mall, and the former Borders bookstore building at 2817 N. Clark St. will reopen next year as a two-story Walgreens “Wellness Experience” store.
And directly behind the La Crêperie in the Broadway at Surf retail complex on Broadway, a long-empty former Wolf Camera and PetSmart and a soon-to-close Cost Plus World Market will be converted into a controversial Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market that is set to open early next year.
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