Remembering The Magic Pan

the magic pans The Magic Pan restaurants were a chain that focused on crepes. The first Magic Pan restaurant was opened in San Francisco’Ghirardelli Square in the 1960s by Hungarian immigrants Lazlo and Paulette Fono. Their crepes were interesting, inventive, and modestly priced.

The Magic Pan chain is credited with popularizing crepes in North America. (At the company’s peak, it had 110 restaurants across the United States and Canada.)

Lazlo Fono is credited with the invention of a crepe-making machine that sped up production of the thin, flat pancakes. These machines were used in all of the chain’s restaurants.

The restaurant chain was sold in the 1970s to Quaker Oats, which sold it in the 1980s to an Oakland, California, company called Bay Bottlers (a Royal Crown/Canada Dry affiliate).

The crepe fad waned.

The last Magic Pan restaurant (in McLean, Virginia) closed in 1995. With that closure came the loss of the proprietary recipes for the chain. (Magic Pan had never produced a recipe book, although Paulette Fono did write a book about their crepes in 1969.)

Several Web sites do have some approximations of some of the Magic Pan recipes and some scaled-down restaurant recipes. These are a few that I have collected:

Magic Pan Basic Crepe Batter

4 eggs
6 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups milk
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons melted butter

Beat eggs with sugar and vanilla, and add milk. Add in flour, and stir until mixed. Add melted butter, and stir in. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Before cooking, take out and whisk (or use electric mixer) until well blended and smooth.

Heat small amount of oil in skillet, and add enough batter to barely coat bottom of pan with a thin layer. Rotate pan to spread batter. Brown one side, and then flip and brown other side. Stack cooked crepes on plate, and if they seem to be sticking together, insert sheets of wax paper between layers.


Magic Pan Ham Palascintas Covered In Creamy Mustard Sauce

½ pound honey-baked ham, ground or finely minced
½ cup sour cream

3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 cup dry bread crumbs


2 tablespoons butter; 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cream or half-and-half
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon white pepper

Make a dozen crepes, using above recipe. Mix ham and sour cream. Place spoonful of ham mixture into center of each crepe, fold tops and bottoms to hold in filling, and roll up. Beat eggs with milk. Roll crepe in flour, then in egg/milk mixture, and then in bread crumbs.

Heat skillet with ample amounts of cooking oil (one inch or more). Fry each coated crepe until puffy and golden-brown on all sides.
To make sauce, melt butter on medium heat in skillet and add flour. Blend until a smooth roux. Add chicken broth, and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Add cream, and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until sauce begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat, and stir in mustard, lemon juice, and pepper.

Spoon generous helpings of sauce over filled fried crepes.


Magic Pan Chicken Divan
12 cooked crepes (see recipe above)

1½ pounds broccoli, cooked, drained, and mashed
2 cups chopped cooked chicken

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream

In skillet on medium heat, melt butter and add flour to make a smooth roux. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce, and cook until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low, add 2 cups of cheese, and cook until cheese is melted. Pour this sauce into 2 cups sour cream, adding gradually and stirring constantly. Set aside.

Mix mashed broccoli and cooked chicken together. Place a tablespoon of filling into each crepe. Fold top and bottom of crepe so filling doesn’t leak out, and roll crepe. Place in greased ovenproof pan. Pour sauce over crepes, and add remaining cheese. Put in 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese melts.


Magic Pan Chicken Crepe Elegante

6 crepes (see recipe above)

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 egg yolks
½ cup cream or half-and-half
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add flour, and mix until a smooth roux. Add chicken stock, and bring to boil. Cook until mixture is reduced by about half and is thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in chicken, salt, pepper, parsley, and chives. Beat egg yolks, cream, and two or three tablespoons of filling in mixing bowl. Stir cream/egg mixture into hot filling. Mix until evenly blended.

Put generous amount of mixture into center of crepes. Roll up, and place in greased ovenproof baking dish. Add remainder of mixture over top, and top with grated cheese. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Serve at once.



38 responses

  1. fyi Magic Pan did indeed put out a cookbook, I fortunately bought one several years before they closed the restaurant I used to eat at in Glendale, CA.

  2. Presently in Alberta it is -30° C. 41 years ago it was wonderful to escape to San Francisco for a romantic
    Valentine engagementt weekend. A highlight of that trip was a brunch visit to the magic Pan. The friendly staff, the delicious crepes, the great coffee, & good company with good friends May the experience unforgettable.

  3. I worked at the pan as we called it in California when they were opening a bunch of them in the 70s and let me tell you it was a hard Party In Crowd and I was offered a job of traveling to open more of them and I knew they partied a little too hard for me! I met some great friends that I had for decades from there! I absolutely loved the dessert crepes the most with the fresh whipped cream OMG all of it was delicious I never got sick of it and I cooked a lot of the stuff. So it was very nice reminiscing reading menu items.

  4. I worked at the pan as we called it in California when they were opening a bunch of them in the 70s and let me tell you it was a hard party’in crowd and I was offered a job of traveling to open more of them and I knew they partied a little too hard for me! I met some great friends that I had for decades from there! I absolutely loved the dessert crepes the most with the fresh whipped cream OMG all of it was delicious I never got sick of it and I cooked a lot of the stuff. So it was very nice reminiscing reading menu items. There was a window where the waiters and waitresses used to stick their heads in and ask where their food was and I had fun throwing strawberries at them!

  5. I bartended at the Pan in Skokie, Il from 1976-1978. I didn’t want to give it up because I loved the food to much. My favorite was the cheese crepe with dijon mustard .The spinach crepes where something else. Would any out there have these recipes? Their Bloody Mary mixing was also pretty good.

  6. When friends and I would shop at 12 oaks mall in Novi mi, we would eat at Magic Pan. My favorite was Chicken Divan for lunch with Chantilly (forgot the second part) for dessert. It’s amazing how much I ate at one sitting 35 years ago without gaining weight.

  7. Love the Magic Pan. My favorite was. The beef crepe and the bananas with apricot sauce whip cream and slivered almonds was the best. I regret not buying the cook book.

  8. Loved, loved, loved The Magic Pan! The crepes St. Jacques and dessert crepes with bananas and whipped cream were my favorites. Wish someone would revive.

    • I worked at one of the San Francisco locations (Sutter St.); back in the early ’80s. The banana/almond/whip cream crepe was called the Chantilly.

  9. I worked as a saute chef in the mid 80’s at the Pan in West Edmonton Mall. In the evenings the crepe wheel was used for sauteed entrees one of which was fillet mignon with bourdelaise sauce. I have tried to this day to recreate that sauce and failed utterly. Sure would love the recipe for it!

  10. Always loved going to The Magic Pan in 70’s and 80’s in Woodland Hills at the Promenade. I have fond memories of going there w my Mother and also with friends while holiday shopping, it was a perfectly festive plane to go during the holidays plus their amazing savory crepes were my favorite. I seem to remember one w Swiss cheese if I’m remembering correctly?
    I was just talking to my old pals about that place and wondered why such a terrific restaurant went out of business:(
    Thanks for the memories!

  11. I just bought a house at the beginning of this month as part of an estate sale. The previous owner was a regional manager for The Magic Pan and his family left quite a bit of stuff in the house. When I was cleaning out a closet I found close to a dozen binders with every recipe from the restaurant. Once my wife and I get more settled in, I’ll try to put together a page with the recipes for anyone that might want them.

  12. I used to go to the location in San Jose on Winchester in the 80’s as a kid with my family. Loved their crepes! I also vaguely remember an appetizer that maybe a cheese fritter served with mustard sauce – so good!

  13. I ate at the Magic Pan that opened in Faneil Hall in Boston. Oh, how I loved the broccoli chicken crepes! They opened another in a mall north of Boston, but it was not as good, and then, soon after, they all closed. I would love to see a restaurant like them again. No heavy foods! What a great idea.

  14. Hi Ryan A.
    I know this is a bit late, but I would love to acquire the recipes! The Magic Pan in San Carlos was the place my girlfriend and I called ‘Our Place’. Have you created your page yet?

  15. Please O’PLEASE does anyone have that cheese fritter recipe? I use to go to the Magic Pan on Winchester Blvd in San Jose CA or in San Francisco too sometimed w/Mom for breakfast. She always took me somewhere every weekend as a kid. Those were special times and memories. So, does anyone know the Cheese Fritter Recipe? That was my moms favorite from there

  16. Magic Pan Bloody Mary.

    I recall it being one of the best. I had a server give me the recipe in the very early 80’s in Atlanta and unfortunately lost that piece of paper a long time ago.

    I do remember that using Sacramento tomato juice and course ground pepper was a must, but can’t recall the rest.

    Any help with that?

  17. OMG! What a great restaurant , would go to the one in King of Prussia mall after shopping . My favorites were the Chicken Divan crepe , the pea soup & my daughters was the Monte Cristo sandwich . Count me in when the recipes will be available !

  18. I would LOVE to have any of their recipes (or all of them)! One of my most favorite restaurants back in the day and lots of happy memories of dinners enjoyed there.

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