For almost 20 years, Annette’s Diner has been inviting all of Europe into that most quintessential of dining experiences from across the Atlantic: the American diner. Now, just shy of its own 20th birthday, Annette has hung up her rollerskates for a well-earned rest — and refurbishment. The iconic diner at the entrance to Disney Village closed on 13th March for a refurbishment that will last through until 6th April 2012. In the meantime, hungry burger hunters are pointed to La Grange at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon or The Steakhouse, where a special €19.99 beef burger menu is available.
A temporary closure of this popular restaurant has been expected since last July, when Disney took back full control of Annette’s and a few other Disney Village restaurants whose operation had previously been outsourced to a company named Groupe Flo. Back in October, New York Style Sandwiches closed for a similar three-week refurbishment. While the move back to in-house operation is expected to lead to efficiencies and cost savings for Disney, it will be interesting to see if it also leads to genuine improvements in quality and service.
You might never have realised it, but that Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Fish ‘n’ Chips you ate at Café Mickey wasn’t necessarily a “Disney” meal at all. Along with most of the other Disney Village restaurants, Café Mickey is actually managed and operated under contract by Groupe Flo, a large French catering company. Or at least, for now it is — member Mr Freddy on Disney Central Plaza Forum has shared the interesting news that Café Mickey, along with Annette’s Diner and presumably The Steakhouse, all part of Groupe Flo’s “Euro-Gastronomie” subsidiary, will come under full Disney control when the current contract ends on 1st October 2011. Citing the fact that Disney now has more experience in restaurant management in Paris and can probably make some considerable savings (it is said to pay Groupe Flo €10m a year for the contract), another member suggests the handover could even mean each of the restaurants closing for between a week and a full month at the end of the this year, ready to become fully Disney-operated establishments from January. The change won’t affect Rainforest Cafe or King Ludwig’s Castle, which are managed under separate contracts to Groupe Flo and will likely always be separate to Disney.
With Disney able to completely control the management and operation of the venues, rather than just make changes at arms-length, it will be interesting to see what differences, if any, we might spot when the changeover takes place. Looking at the bigger picture, this move may even tie in with promised developments for the Village over the next ten years, as Disneyland Paris slowly continues to improve the offering and give it more of a “Disney” stamp with projects like World of Disney.
And if DLRP Today had been handed the contract instead? Well, besides some poorly-cooked Fantasia Mushrooms, for starters you’d at least see that tacky blue tent add-on to Café Mickey ripped off and a proper extension built onto the building instead.