63-year-old family breakfast restaurant reinvents itself in prime Chicago location
Mention the name Millie’s Pancake Shoppe in Chicago’s western suburbs and you’ll likely find someone that has visited over the years. With iconic menu items such as the German Dutch pancake and a unique spin on the traditional egg omelet, third-generation business owner Jim Duda couldn’t be more excited.
As Millie’s is recovering from economic challenges from the pandemic, the restaurant has expanded. The second Millie’s Pancake Shoppe (a reimagining of the original restaurant) is in downtown Chicago—a prime location that puts a spotlight on a historic local brand.
Millie’s Pancake Shoppe became a client of the College of DuPage Business Development Center six months before the pandemic. To stay in business during COVID the restaurant kept turning to SBDC Program Specialist Doug Voegtle for extra guidance. “Every time I meet with Doug, I walk away reenergized. It helps to have a sounding board and true mentor,” says Jim.
The Chicago location had to be researched. Financial projections had to be double checked. Menu ideas for the new product model needed to be aligned with the parent brand strategy before the new Millie’s could move forward. Jim wasn’t looking for a one-and-done spinoff. He wanted to build a new “food hall” concept—a reimagining of a beloved local breakfast and lunch restaurant—that would turn into a 10- to 20-year business expansion. Mission accomplished.
“My grandma was Millie’s first waitress in 1959 before buying the restaurant from Millie (the original owner) in 1963. I hope grandma would be thrilled…it’s almost 2022 and we’re still cooking,” says Jim.
Business Development Center
535 Duane Street, Office 233
Glen Ellyn IL 60137
Rita Haake, Center Manager
Phone: (630) 942-2184
Fax: (630) 942-2606
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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