A new Nutella Cafe is set to hit the streets of Chicago this month — and no, it’s not inside Eataly. Ferrero, the Italian brand that invented and manufactures the chocolate-hazelnut spread, is opening its first all-Nutella cafe on May 31 inside Chicago’s Millennium Park Plaza on the city’s East Side.
Patrons will be offered a menu of food items featuring Nutella, including crepes, gelato, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, croissants, waffles, pancakes, and a fruit fondue plate. Unlike the menu at the Nutella Bar inside NYC’s Eataly or the Nutella counter inside Chicago’s Eataly, the Nutella Cafe will also offer savory lunch items that do not contain Nutella, like panini and salads.
Apparently, the design of the cafe is meant “to make you feel like you're actually walking into a jar of Nutella," according to director of operations at Brand Innovation Group Angela Baird, who, according to the Chicago Tribune consulted on the project.
An espresso menu includes all of the usual drinks, though, oddly, there’s no Nutella latte option. Instead, customers can order a hot chocolate or mocha and add whipped cream and “Nutella drizzle.”
Organizers promise “special surprises” for the first 400 fans in line when the shop opens at 10 a.m. on May 31.
Earlier this year Ferrero purchased chocolatier Fannie May, which was founded in Chicago in 1920, for $115 million. Upon announcing the deal, Ferrero said it had plans to grow its business in the U.S. as well as Fannie May’s. Until Fannie filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004 the company had a healthy retail business and stores throughout the Chicagoland area. (The new Nutella Cafe has taken the place of an old Fannie May location at 151 N. Michigan Ave.)
That deal, along with Ferrero’s successful partnership with Eataly, may have encouraged the Italian company to open this new Nutella Cafe in Chicago. In NYC, Eataly’s Nutella Bar was originally a temporary space-filler while the store worked on its wine shop. Since it reopened two years ago the line for Nutella-infused sweets has rarely let up. Chicago’s Eataly outpost also regularly draws lines to its smaller Nutella counter.
Nutella — a spread made from sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, lecithin, and vanillin — was invented by a baker named Pietro Ferrero in 1946 after World War II. With chocolate in short supply, Ferrero decided to extend cocoa with sugar and the addition of hazelnuts, which were plentiful in his hometown of Alba, Piedmont. He called it pasta gianduja, and sold it as a solid block. Later, he created a spread and called it Supercrema. In 1964, after Ferrero’s son Michele took over the family business, the company renamed the spread Nutella. Ferrero is expected to make $11 billion in sales in 2017; it distributes chocolates, Nutella, and other products to 160 countries. According to reports, over 385,808 tons of Nutella were produced worldwide in 2013.