Oooh Wee It Is will replace Mellow Yellow in Hyde Park with Soul Food Outpost

By on May 13, 2022 0

HYDE PARK – A team of husband-and-wife restaurateurs recently purchased a restaurant in Hyde Park that has been part of 53rd Street for decades, and they will replace the restaurant with a soul food concept they’ve spread across the city.

Oooh Wee It Is bought Mellow Yellow, 1508 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park, about a month ago, owner Mark Walker confirmed on Friday. Walker operates Oooh Wee It Is with his wife Shae.

Mellow Yellow, which opened in 1976 and specialized in 70s dishes like quiches, pancakes and baked potatoes, will close after its last day of operation on 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] to be ideal for being in the Hyde Park period – just to have our mark there,” Walker said. “When my real estate agent called me and said this was a deal that might be on the table, I jumped at the chance.”

Renovations to the space will take approximately 60 to 75 days, with construction beginning Monday. Oooh Wee It Is is set to open in Hyde Park in August, Walker said.

The robot servers will address Walker’s concerns about the restaurant’s staffing, while all existing Mellow Yellow employees will be able to keep their jobs, he said.

Existing staff will be relocated to other Oooh Wee It Is outposts until Hyde Park renovations are complete.

“We’re just trying to modernize Mellow Yellow and bring a few different things to Hyde Park that it doesn’t currently offer,” Walker said.

The sale includes the location and brand name of Mellow Yellow, Walker said. He declined to share the purchase price, but said the brand would be restarted this fall as a tenant in a new food hall concept he is opening at 79th and LaSalle streets in Auburn Gresham.

“We will be operating a food hall with approximately seven different restaurants at this particular location – one being Mellow Yellow, [which is doing] breakfast only and closes at 3 p.m.,” Walker said.

Two other food hall tenants are locked up 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 that also sells its sauces at Whole Foods.

Oooh Wee It Is started in 2014 as a line of sweetened teas made with local raw honey instead of sugar, which were sold at 87th Street Harold’s Chicken near the Dan Ryan.

The Walkers opened their first restaurant in the southern suburb of Burnham in the fall of 2020 and have since opened several other restaurants in Chicago, including those in Chatham and Wicker Park.

They’re looking to expand into Texas and Georgia, as well as open franchise opportunities to other restaurateurs, Walker said.

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