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David Lissner
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Earn triple points at Lettuce Entertain You today

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Today is Triple Points Day at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises! Members the restaurant group’s Frequent Diners program will threefold points toward future meals if they dine at participating restaurants today.

Lettuce Entertain You was the first Chicago chain to offer a Frequent Diners program, one of many innovations the company, perhaps the single most influential in Chicago restaurant history, has brought to Windy City diners in the nearly 40 years since it began.

As the story goes, “Spring, nineteen seventy. A bizarre funk hung over the Windy City. Two men, a flower child named Crazy Alice and an abnormal recipe for ‘killer chili’ were headed for a date with destiny. ‘Let It Be’ was #1 on the charts, Frank Zappa ruled the universe and humans were wearing strange clothes….”

RJ Grunts

R.J. Grunts

Rich Melman was dishing up deli fare in his dad’s restaurant and chafing under a lack of control. Jerry Orzoff was speculating on Michigan Avenue real estate. The two came together and launched a Lincoln Park restaurant called R.J. Grunts in 1971, the first in what was to be a chain of restaurants that would change Chicago’s perception of eating out, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.

Grunts, intended to feed hippies with the munchies, introduced the salad bar to Chicago. It played rock music. It didn’t take reservations. It was casual and fun.

Other offbeat places followed: Fritz That’s It!Great Gritzbe’s Flying Food ShowJonathan Livingston SeafoodLawrence of Oregano…. The restaurants had innovative promotions, such as a passport that got you a free dinner if you visited enough of the eateries and signs that taunted passersby to steal them and bring them in for a discount.

Richard Melman

Richard Melman

Then, in 1976, the partners took on the establishment — taking over the famed Pump Room, which had opened on the Gold Coast in 1938 (no longer under Lettuce management, The Pump Room is reportedly facing major downsizing). Orzoff died in 1981, but Melman went on expanding. LEYE first popularized risotto in Chicago with opening of Scoozi! in River North and introduced Spanish tapas with Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! in Lincoln Park, both in 1986.

According to Melman, the company concentrated on creating a variety of different concepts all in one city instead of launching a national chain of replicated restaurants because he didn’t like to travel. Today, LEYE owns, licenses or manages more than 60 establishments in seven states, with the vast majority in the Chicago area.

Lettuce Entertain You restaurants also include: