- Crate and Barrel on Thursday announced it will open a restaurant next spring at its Oakbrook Center store in the Chicagoland area.
- The restaurant is opening in partnership with Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which runs well-reviewed restaurants owned by Chicago-based basketball superstar Michael Jordan and others helmed by award-winning chef Bill Kim. Kim will be in charge of the Crate and Barrel kitchen, according to a press release from the companies emailed to Retail Dive.
- The companies will also develop programming like cooking demonstrations, how-tos and other special events, the companies said.
It looks like Crate & Barrel is finally going to get a restaurant, a move that was in focus during the leadership of previous CEO Doug Diemoz.
He was hired to give Crate & Barrel — which boasts a solid reputation for affordable, European-style home goods and furniture — a new direction. He left his position as chief development officer at Restoration Hardware (now RH) to lead Crate & Barrel three years ago and recruited former RH executive Kimberly Ahlheim. But that move sparked a lawsuit by their former employer early last year alleging that they brought with them proprietary knowledge of RH's food and beverage operations.
It's easy to see why Crate & Barrel would want to take a page from the RH hospitality playbook. RH now runs restaurants at four of its stores, and three of them are on pace to generate $5 million to $6 million annually, with the fourth at approximately $4 million, the company said earlier this month. "We believe RH Hospitality is now a proven scalable business, and we plan to increase the number of new Galleries with integrated restaurants, wine vaults, and barista bars going forward," RH CEO Gary Friedman said in a statement.
In May of 2017, Neela Montgomery was tapped to replace Diemoz, arriving from Crate & Barrel's parent, Hamburg-based Otto Group. Last week, she said in a statement that the new restaurant will provide the Oakbrook location with a more experiential and "immersive store experience."
"We know our customers love to entertain and this collaboration takes our existing expertise around dining and kitchen to the next level," she said.
Even before the fracas that colored Diemoz's tenure, the executive suite at Crate & Barrel had been in flux. Longtime CEO Barbara Turf, who was known for leading the company with creativity and flair, retired in 2012 but had remained on the board. After her death in 2014, the company was without a rudder when then-CEO Sascha Bopp and President Marta Calle abruptly departed, just two years after their appointments.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the period of time Neela Montgomery served as Crate & Barrel CEO was misstated. She has held the position since May 2017.