Q: How would you characterize the mission of your restaurant?
A: We started with a tricycle. And I wanted to go for something that is really quality food, diversified a little bit. Different than what New Haven has. And I thought of crepes, escalating from a tricycle to this. I want to keep focusing on the quality of the batter, staff, ingredients, operation in the kitchen, little things that we undertake. Everything that we do has to be quality. And that is already done well so far. People in New Haven know this and are receptive to this. And I am in the quality business.
Q: Do you have any plans to expand in the future?
A: I am hoping not necessarily to open another restaurant. I want more people to love us, to love me, to love crepes, to love the restaurant. Customers can be whoever, but I just want people to love our products and customer service. The most important thing is the product.
Q: Can you tell me about your team?
A: We have four here and two in the carts. There is one cart on College and Wall Street. The cart has been operating for a year and a half now, and this is the result of it today. It was just me running the cart.
Q: How would you characterize your target customer base?
A: I have been in marketing all of my life, since I was 19 years old. I have a marketing and business background, and I have worked with different companies in marketing and sales. And I have been in banking since I moved to America in 2006. And when I switched to crepes, I went away from this. I don’t talk numbers, I talk quality and love. I don’t have strategy. This is about being open to anyone who loves the crepes. We’re not doing any marketing strategy — I need to reach this or that. Whoever comes here is welcome.
Q: Why give free crepes?
A: It was something to say thank you to everyone who supported me and supported the carts. In the snow making crepes — people still came. People still looked for us in the tricycles. It’s to say thank you to everyone who has supported us. It’s for all of them.
Q: What sort of support has helped you get to this point?
A: The support of the smile, of love. You can believe that or you don’t have to believe that, but it’s how I function. And this is just the beginning of the hard work to come. The support really was the love — the people surrounding me. When they see me they smile. When I talk they smile. There was a guy at 2:00 who came, and I didn’t expect him to come, and he helped me to clean the windows and open up. There were people calling me asking if I need anything. It’s just amazing.
Q: What inspires you?
A: These personal connections have pushed me to give more, to work harder and to not disappoint. My mom also inspires me, because she taught me very good lessons. First about food and the tastes of food and the service of food. My dad inspired me in the business way. He used to be a businessman as well, and he passed away in 2008. He inspired me and taught me how to be in the business. He had a small business, and he showed me what makes a small business successful. That’s the love of people. If you don’t have love as a small business, you won’t survive. You need the love of the community to survive.
Q: Why should Yale students come to your restaurant?
A: They should come to our restaurant because we cook in front of people. We make batter and we put it in a crepe, which is a pseudo type of bread. We are not cooking bread in the old fashion way. We are cooking fresh food in front of people. And for Yale students, it’s very important, for anybody it’s very important, because nowadays we don’t see anything fresh. You go to any deli or restaurant, the bread has been sitting for a long time. We cook in front of people. Students work hard, and they deserve fresh products.
Q: What made you choose this location? And was it difficult to get it ready?
A: It just came up randomly. I was looking for the smallest location in New Haven, and this is what came up.
Opening a restaurant is a long process. Health departments, fire departments, construction, design, details,
everything. It’s not an easy process. It took about seven months. I had a good contractor and designer — good people surrounding me.
Q: What was the most challenging part of opening the restaurant?
A: Making simple things is harder than sophisticated things. That means that simple is the most sophisticated thing. I wanted something simple, and it’s not an easy thing to do something simple nowadays. For example, the façade of our countertop — I wanted it to look aged, a simple thing. But it’s very hard to do. So the most challenging thing is to do a simple design, a minimalistic design. People come and say it is simple, but it’s actually the most difficult. You can do expensive work and be done in two days — that’s sophisticated and easy. But simple is difficult.
Q: What is your leadership style?
A: I want this restaurant to be a prime address for people that are looking for good food and a nice atmosphere. I want it to be a getaway. I work with my staff in a way that I trust and listen to them. I want them to feel it’s their business as well, because it is. I want them to feel responsible for each task they are assigned and they should treat it respectfully, and vice versa.
Q: What sorts of events and parties can be held here?
A: We host many events here — (gesturing to worker) like right now she wants to have her baby shower
here. She just told us that. We have corporate events as well. We can host birthday parties or we could just have a crepe party. We could have Christmas parties. We already have Christmas parties booked. Or we could go to people’s houses and cater them. We cater all of the time. That is the core of our business.
Q: Would you characterize this as a family business?
A: I don’t think it’s a family business. It’s my business, but the style of it is you come here and you feel at home. But my nephew is visiting for two weeks to help.
Q: How have your roots influenced you?
A: My mom gave me the basics, and then I practiced. And that’s it. I grew up with this. I grew up in France, and that’s influenced me in the taste, the cooking, in everything. It’s more fresh ingredients and slow cooking and more about the creativity of mixing up ingredients. It’s more versatile. That’s the style of the French cooking way. And living in America has taught me how to learn about people and how to understand the culture and how amazing people in America are. To know how it’s evolving — the gastronomy in America. And how people are very conscious about their food. It’s all about the quality right now in the restaurant business. If you don’t have it, your business will die. People watch what they eat more than they used to.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: Catering is a big thing for us. We’re not any other caterer. We don’t cook sandwiches in the morning and serve them in the afternoon. We cook in front of people. That’s our way of catering. We smile when we provide our services. We are thankful for people, and that shows in our manner of service. It’s almost like more traditional. The label of our business is everything we do is traditional. The batter is made from scratch. We mix the eggs, the batter, the milk. We let the batter rest overnight. The ingredients have to be fresh. It has to be fresh before we put the crepes there.