The Untold Truth Of Mimi's Bistro + Bakery

If you want a cozy diner where you can enjoy a delicious brunch anytime of day, a healthy lunch, or a celebratory dinner with friends or family, Mimi's Bistro + Bakery checks all the boxes. Launched in 1978 as Mimi's Cafe in Anaheim in Southern California, today you'll find an array of affordable options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or for appetizers with favorites, such as eggs Benedict, quiche Lorraine, or croque monsieur. This neighborhood restaurant with a French and American fusion is likely to have something for everyone.

Arthur J. Simms and his son, Tom Simms, were inspired by their trips to Paris and wanted to create their own dining spot. They opened their doors with one restaurant in Anaheim and soon expanded the business to several locations. Although this chain has been bought a few times, the quality, selection, and casual atmosphere is still what makes this place stand out. Recently, Mimi's owners rebranded in an effort to represent the true essence of the restaurant to customers.

The concept was ahead of it's time for the States

These days, casual dining style restaurants may be a dime a dozen, so common that it may be difficult to imagine a time when this type of place didn't exist. But in the late '70s, what is now referred to as casual or neighborhood friendly dining establishments didn't really exist.

Mimi's Cafe was a new concept for the California restaurant scene and made it stand out. The casual cafe idea fused the style of a coffee shop and a restaurant together, something that wasn't really done before. "In those days there weren't any casual dining restaurants like Mimi's, Chili's, Claim Jumper, the Cheesecake Factory," Tom Simms told Orange Coast. "We saw the need for combining a dinner house with a coffee shop." Although it may be strange to think about, what is now considered commonplace at one time was innovative.

Arthur J. Simms was a businessman

Arthur J. Simms may be well known within the restaurant sector for opening Mimi's Cafe, but it wasn't his first time in the food world. Although Mimi's may be a famous chain associated with Simms and his sons, it wasn't his first foray into serving up delicious food and drinks to customers. After serving time in World War II, Simms came home to Chicago with an interest in opening a coffee shop. He was likely inspired by his father-in-law, who also owned a coffee shop. 

According to Los Angeles Magazine, before he started in the food and beverage scene, he moved to Los Angeles and landed a job at MGM studios. Four years later, he would branch out on his own, serving up coffee from his coffee shop known as Ben Frank's on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Afterward, he'd expand into the restaurant world by opening up two different spots alongside his family, with a European inspired locale in West Hollywood called The French Quarter and another place called The Kettle (via Los Angeles Magazine). His coffee shop and restaurant experience would help him find success with Mimi's Cafe.

The name Mimi's Cafe was inspired by a real woman in France

Contemplating and choosing a name for any business is important, and there's no exception in the restaurant world. When Arthur J. Simms and his son, Tom, were brainstorming the concept for the restaurant, they knew the name of the casual dinning spot was important. They both share a love for Paris, and Arthur had served time in France as a soldier in WWII. 

While pondering names, they knew they wanted a French woman's name since there casual dining spot would be a fusion of French and American cuisine, and initially considered the name Gigi (via Orange Coast). That's when Arthur suggested the name Mimi to Tom and explained the story behind it for the first time. Arthur had met a young woman named Mimi, around 20 years old at a party honoring American soldiers, according to Orange Coast. You just never know where, when, or how inspiration may strike.

In 2019, the name was revamped

The most recent change also provoked updating the name to be reflective of the French inspiration by incorporating the words "Bistro" and "Bakery" to the name. Tiffany McClain told Restaurant Business, "Adding 'bistro' to the chain's name reflects a French feel, with a nod toward relaxation, while 'bakery' emphasizes the restaurant's grab-and-go offerings." The restaurant has had different owners and various changes, and the name is one way to reflect updates to this neighborhood casual dining spot.

According to Knox News, Philippe Jean, COO of Le Duff America, stated, "We are ready for a fresh phase that strengthens our connection with France, while maintaining Mimi's heritage that made our guests fall in love with our brand in the first place." Whether Mimi's has been a favorite go-to restaurant or if you're just learning about this dining spot now, there is likely a little something for everyone.

The menu is more focused with all the favorites

It's not only the name that has been updated, as menu offerings have also been given a new shine. The menu is lighter, with the number of items cut back by about half, from around 150 options to about 75 (via Nation's Restaurant News). Most customers are likely to appreciate the change because too many choices can be overwhelming and make it almost impossible to decide on what you really want.

The updated menu has less non-French items, since the goal is to combine American classics with French favorites. But don't worry because if you're craving a brioche cheeseburger, croque monsieur, or a pot roast dinner, you'll still find many popular items on the menu. Plus, they have introduced an additional menu, which seems to be similar to a Happy Hour menu with wines, cocktails, and appetizers. It is available whenever and appropriately called Bites + Beverages (via Restaurant Business).