Long lines at Nutella Cafe frustrate customers
After opening to much fanfare on May 31, the first Nutella Cafe in the United States, located at 189 N. Michigan, delighted customers with sweet treats and an inspired interior, but long lines and kinks in service have frustrated diners.
“The operations could have run more smoothly…maybe they could have two cash registers open,” said Carly Tobin, a North Sider who visited the cafe with her mom, Claudia. “I feel there’s a better way they can get orders.”
The split-level cafe is the first restau- rant owned and operated by Ferrero, makers of the popular Italian hazelnut spread, which hit U.S. markets in 1983. Its cheery red-and-white interior, with its rippled brown ceiling, light fixtures shaped like hazelnuts and other playful touches, make customers feel like they are in a life-sized Nutella jar.
But customers are less than thrilled with erratic opening hours and the restaurant’s policy of letting in groups every 10–15 minutes, leaving a long line of people sweltering in the sun while in view of empty tables. Ac- cording to Nutella’s official phone line, average wait times are between one and one-and-a-half hours. “The tables are empty all the time,” said a security guard at the Nutella Cafe who declined to give his name.
The restaurant also lacks a formal website, instead using a Facebook page. “We know that Nutella is a popular brand, but the response to our Nutella Cafe has far exceeded our expectations. We acknowledge this has resulted in lines to enter the Cafe and longer wait times; however, with each day we have seen improvements,” a representative from Ferrero USA, the makers of Nutella, said in an emailed statement.
Guadeloupe Nunez, a customer who works around the corner from the cafe, said she heard about the hype on social media and was curious to check it out for herself. “I would come again, but I wouldn’t wait in line again,” she said. “For the experience, it was nice. It was nice to go to the actual source.”
The menu offers sweet and savory options, including traditional Nutella pairings like crepes, croissants and baguettes. “The food was warm and fresh,” said Nunez.
Tobins also gave the food two thumbs-up. “I liked how they cut a hole in the middle of the croissant and injected Nutella,” said Carly Tobin, holding up her chocolate croissant. She glanced back at the cafe. “They’ll eventually get the hang of it.”
— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer