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The new La Madeleine restaurant that opened recently in 4,500 square feet of space in southwest Fort Worth at Overton Park Place drew a crowd on its first Sunday morning. John Cahill would not have been surprised. As chief operating officer with La Madeleine, owned by Le Duff America, Cahill said the company had been looking in southwest Fort Worth for some time.
“This is a perfect spot for us,” he said a few days before the official opening. Located in what was until recently a mattress retail store, the location at the corner of the Weingarten Realty-owned power center is right in the restaurant’s educated, middle-to-upper income demographic. The new restaurant is also the first of a new line of prototype restaurants that La Madeleine hopes to use as a springboard for an aggressive growth strategy and the brand’s move into franchising, said Paul Carolan, chief development officer of Le Duff.
La Madeleine currently has 63 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. This is the chain’s second Fort Worth store, though it did have one in downtown Fort Worth that closed several years ago. Carolan said the restaurant is also looking for other locations in or around Fort Worth. The new prototypes showcase the bakery more so customers can watch the pastry chefs at work. The restaurant’s first franchised restaurant is expected to open in Lubbock early next year, Carolan said, but the company hopes to add about seven company stores and some nontraditional locations, such as one planned for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 2014.
While a few things have changed, Cahill said the chain’s most popular foods remain the same – chicken la Madeleine, chicken salad, chicken friand, quiche Lorraine and tomato basil soup. The chain’s customers are about 60 percent women, he says. Unlike some fast casual restaurants, La Madeleine is in no hurry to rush customers in and out the door. “We’ve changed a few things, but it retains its classic La Madeleine feel,” he said. “People come in for the food and many come in and stay. That’s fine with us. We make our restaurant feel cozy for that very reason. We want them to be comfortable.”