Specialty Cereal Eatery Boxes Up Bowls, Spoons

Nomaan Merchant

By Nomaan MerchantThe Daily Northwestern

Just six months after it opened in downtown Evanston’s Sherman Plaza, Cereality Cereal Bar and Cafe has closed its doors and moved out.

The restaurant, 1622 Sherman Ave., offered customers the chance to mix their favorite breakfast cereals with assorted toppings, in addition to serving oatmeal, breakfast bars and shakes.

The store’s contents were packed up after closing Monday night, according to Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. On Tuesday afternoon, all food and equipment had been removed from the store’s interior.

“This was a very concerted, planned decision,” Perman said.

A sign was posted on the restaurant’s doors stating that it is not authorized to serve food without the city’s consent.

Jay Terry, the city’s director of health and human services, said the sign is part of standard procedure when a store closes.

“Presumably, it closed for financial reasons,” Terry said.

Cereality operates four other franchises nationwide, including one in downtown Chicago.

Perman would not comment on the specifics of Cereality’s departure, but he said the franchise had trouble building a market for specialty cereal.

“The question is, ‘How do you convince people to pay $3.50 for a box of cereal?'” Perman said. “People have limitations and budgets, and make decisions about how many times they’re willing to indulge.”

Perman pointed out that Cereality’s main product, cereal, is one that most consumers identify as a strictly breakfast food, making business difficult during afternoons and evenings.

“They’re trying to expand people’s dining habits to make cereal more of a 12-hour eating experience, and that’s hard to do,” Perman said.

Multiple calls to the company’s downtown Chicago headquarters went unanswered Tuesday. Jim and Marc Klutznick, two of Sherman Plaza’s developers, also did not return phone messages.

When the Evanston location opened in November, Cereality’s president and CEO at the time, David Roth, expressed high hopes for the restaurant. The company had planned to use the location as a training facility for employees at the company’s other locations.

“We’re very much looking forward to this store,” Roth told The Daily in November. “This is just pregnant with possibilities.”

Both Roth and fellow co-founder Rick Bacher resigned from the company at the end of April. Roth declined to comment Tuesday on the Evanston store’s closing. The new CEO, John Fiorello, did not return multiple calls Tuesday night.

The company plans to open another location in Charleston, S.C., in mid-June, according to its Web site.

The restaurant was one of Sherman Plaza’s most anticipated tenants when the development opened in August. But price considerations – a regular cereal order cost about $4 – as well as a lack of interest hurt Cereality, several locals said.

“Honestly, I can make cereal at my house,” said Evanston resident Claire Barker, a student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. “It’s a pity (that Cereality closed), but Evanston has been changing for the past few years.”

Reach Nomaan Merchant at [email protected]