WOODFIELD MALL MEETS OUTER SPACE

In the year 2000, appropriately enough, outer space came to Woodfield Mall and it came in the form of a new restaurant called Mars 2112. The eatery inherited the space that was originally used for the Woodfield Ice Arena and later Woodfield Mall Cinemas.

Called “Disneyland with dining” by the owner, Pascal Phelan, Mars 2112 first opened in Times Square in Manhattan as a standalone location. Woodfield Mall was chosen as its first shopping center location and it officially opened on October 3 after an $8.5 million startup investment.

The name of the restaurant was based on the year 2112 when it was believed that commercial flights would take passengers to Mars. The interior decor reflected this Mars theme and came complete with giant videos showing customers the terrain of the red planet.

Lava pools, Martian creatures and a shuttle ride for 32 guests that operated between the entrance and the dining room were also part of the experience. The shuttle ride, which was actually a 747 flight simulator used to train pilots, rocked and swayed as if the passengers were on a trip to Mars. The “voyage” lasted 3 1/2 minutes. When you got to the dining room, even the walls were red and cratered. The whole theme was meant to feel as if you were eating on Mars.

And the food? It was upscale, but casual, and ranged from burgers to grilled salmon to ribs, pasta and steaks. In fact, Pascal Phelan, the owner hired a top chef from France to put together the menu as a fusion of American and international cuisine.

It was only in business for one short year, closing in early November 2001. During that time they worked with the community by handing out $30,000 worth of scholarships to ten students from schools in the Northwest Suburbs to, where else? United States Space Camp in Titusville, FL. An appropriate gesture for the students who entered an essay contest answering the question “What is life like on Mars in 2112?”

There was no reason given for the abrupt closure of Mars 2112 but, while it lasted, it made a dramatic impact on the Woodfield restaurant scene. Eating a hamburger and fries on Mars? Who wouldn’t want to give that a try?

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

Photo credit to homebrewpinball.blogspot.com

This blog posting was written with the help of Daily Herald articles from February 12 and September 28, 2000 and June 12 and November 8, 2001. An October 2000 article from the Chicago Tribune was also used.

 

 

2 Responses to “WOODFIELD MALL MEETS OUTER SPACE”

  1. Larry Rowan Says:

    Thanks for this history Jane! This must be the only restaurant that I didn’t visit. Sorry I missed it in it’s short life!

  2. Joyce Colpaert Says:

    Wow! I had never heard of this restaurant. I am thinking that the tragic events of 9/11/2001 contributed to its demise in November of that year. As a country in deep mourning, I recall that fun and frivolous endeavors came to a screeching halt. What a concept tho!
    Thank you for sharing.

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