HYDE PARK — A husband-and-wife restaurateur team recently purchased a Hyde Park eatery that’s been a 53rd Street fixture for decades, and they’ll replace the eatery with a soul food concept they’ve spread across the city.
Oooh Wee It Is purchased Mellow Yellow, 1508 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park, about a month ago, owner Mark Walker confirmed Friday. Walker operates Oooh Wee It Is with his wife Shae.
Mellow Yellow, which opened in 1976 and specialized in ’70s fare like quiches, crêpes and baked potatoes, will close following its last day of operation Sunday.
It will be replaced by a new Oooh Wee It Is location, featuring the brand’s “soul food with a twist” specialties, its trademark cereal bar, a pasta bar and robot servers, Walker said.
“Knowing that Mellow Yellow has been a staple since 1976, [it’ll] be ideal to be in Hyde Park period — just to have our brand there,” Walker said. “When my realtor called and told me this was a deal that could be on the table, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Renovations to the space will take about 60-75 days to complete, with construction beginning Monday. Oooh Wee It Is is expected open in Hyde Park in August, Walker said.
The robot servers will address Walker’s concerns about staffing the restaurant, while all existing Mellow Yellow employees will be able to keep their jobs, he said.
Existing employees will be transferred to other Oooh Wee It Is outposts until the Hyde Park renovations are complete.
“We’re just trying to modernize Mellow Yellow and bring a few different things to Hyde Park that it does not currently offer,” Walker said.
The sale includes Mellow Yellow’s location and brand name, Walker said. He declined to share the purchase price, but said the brand will be rebooted this fall as a tenant in a new food hall concept he’s opening at 79th and LaSalle streets in Auburn Gresham.
“We will be operating a food hall with about seven different restaurants in that one particular location — one being Mellow Yellow, [which is doing] breakfast only and closing at 3 p.m.,” Walker said.
Two other food hall tenants are locked in so far, Walker said. They are Kim Stratton’s Kitchen, a Southern restaurant based in Calumet City’s River Oaks Mall; and Bill’s Grill, a barbecue joint which also sells its sauces at Whole Foods.
Oooh Wee It Is started in 2014 as a line of sweet teas made with local raw honey instead of sugar, which were sold at the 87th Street Harold’s Chicken near the Dan Ryan.
They’re looking to expand into Texas and Georgia, as well as open up franchising opportunities for other restauranteurs, Walker said.
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