La Creperie owner Germain Roignant at his French restaurant in Chicago,… (Antonio Perez / Chicago…)
When 41-year-old Lakeview restaurant La Creperie announced it would close in August, people began lining up for hours in 90-degree heat for a last meal at the restaurant. Jack Crombie, owner of the nearby Duke of Perth, said customers at his bar were very vocal about the news.
"There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth when the place was closing," Crombie said. "People proposed to their sweethearts there. They’ve aged together there. It’s a veritable institution.”
Crombie reached out to La Creperie owner Germain Roignant and offered to buy the restaurant and reopen it. "The goodwill associated with this place is gold,” he said.
Roignant, who's now in his 70s, agreed and has been working with Crombie when the doors opened again on Dec. 20. “People were very upset that the restaurant was closing," he said. "We decided, OK, let’s keep going and reopen it. After 41 years, I didn’t feel that good about closing the place. Here was an opportunity between the new owners and myself to keep it going."
The goal is to appeal to the restaurant's loyal customers by changing the place as little as possible. Chef Juan Aranda, who worked at La Creperie for 22 years, will be back in the kitchen whipping up the same dishes, minus a few that weren't popular. The space, which Crombie describes as shabby chic, is receiving some touch ups, but the decor will stay largely the same. “We’d like to remain chic, but maybe dump the shabby,” he said. “The posters are still on the walls," Roignant added. "Some have been there 40 years.”
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