Founded in 1971, Lettuce
Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. has created high quality, successful restaurants in Chicago
Lettuce Entertain You was the result of combining Richard Melman's food ideas with the $$$ of Jerry A. Orzoff, Melman's first partner. After meeting Melman for the first time in 1970, Orzoff and Melman raised a total of $17,000 to create an upbeat eatery geared toward young folx interested in rock music, casual clothes and healthy food. Melman hired bright, attractive waitresses and bartenders and filled the location with hanging plants and modern art work. this first restaurant became the hippie hangout known as R.J. Grunts.
The menu was designed to appeal to a variety of tastes, and included everything from vegetarian and macrobiotic foods to hamburgers, sandwiches, milkshakes, cocktails and the prototype fruit and vegetable-laden salad bar (a most awesome salad bar... not to be beaten down even today!).
Grunts opened on June 10, 1971 in Chicago's Lincoln Park. After one month, Grunts became a success. Fritz That's It! in Evanston, Illinois followed and then soon afterwards the Great Gritzbe's Flying Food Show opened in 1974. Jonathan Livingston Seafood came next in 1975 and Lawrence of Oregano in 1976.
Many more restaurants followed and today Melman and LEY is one of the best known restaurant groups in Chicago and the US.
Current Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants
Shaw's Crab House
Maggiano's Little Italy
Mity Nice Grill
Mon Ami Gabi
Twin City Grill
Chicago Flat Sammies
Vong's Thai Kitchen
Don & Charlie's
Update: DrWoody says The Big Bowl, Corner Bakery, and Maggiano's concepts were actually sold to Brinker International, which also owns Chilis, macaroni grill, and on the border.