The Magic Pan

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The Magic Pan logo, ca 1970s

The Magic Pan was an American chain of full-service restaurants specializing in crêpes, popular in the late 1970s through early 1990s.


The Magic Pan restaurant company was started at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, California, by Hungarian immigrants Lazlo and Paulette Fono.[1]

The Quaker Oats Company acquired Magic Pan from the Fonos in 1970, and it became the company's primary restaurant chain.[2] Quaker Oats sold the company[3] to an Oakland, California-based company, Bay Bottlers, in 1982,[4] at which time there were 110 Magic Pan locations throughout the United States and Canada.[5] The last remaining Magic Pan restaurant in McLean, Virginia, was phased out of business. [according to whom?][citation needed]

In 2005, the Magic Pan name was re-introduced by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises as a fast-food crepe stand in Northbrook, Illinois. This resurrected version of Magic Pan does not have the crepe-making machine used in the original chain. Instead it uses recreations of the original recipes.[6] The revived chain opened a second location in the food court of the Mall of America near Minneapolis, Minnesota.[7]


Among the menu items were crêpes filled with spinach and mushroom souffle, chicken divan, crepe suzette, strawberries and sour cream, chantilly, coffee chocolate sauce ice cream, and "cherry royale".[6]

The restaurant designed an automated system to make crepes at a crepe station, consisting of a motorized conveyor that would heat metal pans. An attendant would dip the bottom of the pans in the crepe batter, to ensure an even coating. Lazlo Fono is generally recognized as the man who invented the crepe-making machine used in the chain's restaurants, starting in the mid-1960s.[citation needed]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In the King of the Hill, episode titled "Hanky Panky" (Season 4, episode 13), Miz Liz invites Hank to lunch at a Magic Pan restaurant. Since Hank can't decide what to order Miz Liz orders a crepe for him and a florentine for her. Another King of the Hill, episode titled "Ho Yeah!" (Season 5, episode 13), Peggy befriends the new Strickland Propane receptionist Tammi (guest voiced by Renée Zellweger), a former prostitute from "The OKC" (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), and they dine at a Magic Pan restaurant. Peggy orders crêpes Suzette.
  • In "The English Patient" (Season 8, episode 17), and in other Seinfeld episodes, recurring character Izzy Mandelbaum operates a chain of Magic Pan crêpe restaurants.
  • Alan Hunter worked as a bartender at a Magic Pan at night while working as a VJ in the early days of MTV.


  1. ^ Sylvia Lovegren (2005). Fashionable Food: Seven decades of food fads. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-49407-4. 
  2. ^ "The Quaker Oats Company". Funding Universe. 
  3. ^ Stephanie Chavez (1982-06-23). "Quaker to sell its Magic Pans". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ Richard Martin (1984-03-26). "Friedrich replaces Ryan as president of Magic Pan". Nation's Restaurant News. 
  5. ^ "Quaker May Sell Its Restaurants". New York Times. 1981-11-12. 
  6. ^ a b Steve Brady (2008-01-21). "The “magic” of the Magic Pan restaurant". 
  7. ^ Janet Rausa Fuller (2005-08-23). "Magic Pan crepes returning: Local restaurant whiz revives popular 1970s name at mall stand". Chicago Sun Times. 

External links[edit]