Speaking as someone who was pretty much raised by television, I enjoy a good spinoff as much as any other over-stimulated, glassy-eyed child of the ’80s. Some shows were prolific in their spinoffs — Happy Days is rivaled only by the Octomom in terms of fertility. Much like TV shows, when a restaurateur or a chef decides to spin off, sometimes it’s the product of an idea that is too great to be contained in the original concept, like Laverne & Shirley. And sometimes it’s a case of a chef trying to capitalize on his or her own celebrity — like Joanie Loves Chachi.
One interesting case study in restaurant spinoffs is the twinset of Lili’s Bistro (1310 W. Magnolia Ave.) and Cat City Grill (1208 W. Magnolia Ave.). Lili’s chef/owner Vance Martin is the common thread between the two. He and culinary super-friend Martin Thompson opened Cat City in 2010.
You could say that Lili’s is the Happy Days of Magnolia. It’s fair to say that Lili’s arrival is what vaulted the Southside thoroughfare into a bona fide restaurant row, since many others followed in its footsteps.