Yale students munched on crepes at the end of the first day of classes, as a new crepe kiosk on Broadway Avenue celebrated its grand opening.
New Haven resident and French native Adil Chokairy opened his third eatery — Crêpes Choupette, a French creperie that already has a location on Whitney Avenue — on Tuesday afternoon, offering free sweet crepes and beverages to students, his target audience for the new business.
“I started with a tricycle food cart, and it gained a lot of popularity,” Chokairy said. “This is more representing Crêpes Choupette in another segment of New Haven … a population I have missed.”
After leaving a career in the financial sector, Chokairy had to start small to break into New Haven’s food scene. His entrepreneurial career began in 2014 as he wheeled around a French-style food cart, serving crepes to locals around Yale’s campus and at local farmers markets. After new city laws constrained food trucks and food carts to specific zones, Chokairy opened a permanent location, Crêpes Choupette, on Whitney in 2015, almost a decade after his arrival in the Elm City. Encouragement from Yale students inspired him to open his first cafe, he said.
Chokairy said he plans to serve the same style of crepes with similar ingredients at the new location. His savory crepes will be made with gluten-free, sugar-free buckwheat flour, while sweet crepes will consist of whole wheat flour. But the location on the Broadway Island — a site owned by University Properties’ The Shops at Yale — will allow him to reach students who shy away from the more distant Whitney Avenue location, where the majority of his customers are working people in the district.
“This area of Broadway is mostly a student space versus on Whitney Avenue … which is for the financial district, bankers, employees,” Chokairy said. “The students don’t have the time to go over there, so that’s where the idea came to be close to my first love, the students of New Haven.”
He said he plans for the shop to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, though he may extend hours on weekend nights based on interest.
Chokairy said the opening event for the location was “just for fun,” and served as a way to introduce new customers to his business and give back to his Yale clientele. He added that he would love to advertise University events and athletic matches on the digital screen outside his store.
Jen Frantz ’20 said she is excited about the new opening, which she thinks will allow the business to reach more undergraduates. She said she thinks the authenticity and taste of Chokairy’s crepes add to the small-business community and culture of the city.
“The crepes are delicious, and it’s interesting to have a crepe hotspot in New Haven, Connecticut, of all places,” she said.
Frantz, who started frequenting Whitney Avenue’s Crêpes Choupette in the fall of 2016, said she was immediately impressed by Chokairy’s kindness and charisma.
She has worked at Chokairy’s restaurants while taking a semester off of Yale. As an employee, Frantz praised Chokairy’s professionalism and ability to make the restaurant a fun place to work, saying that sometimes he spontaneously breaks out into song or dance.
As students gathered near the Broadway island, his staff served up a variety of crepes and hot beverages.
As a regular customer of Chokairy’s establishments, Paige Torres ’19 said she is happy to support his new projects. Mindy Lee ’19 praised the quality of the crepe samples and said that she was glad Chokairy opened a new location closer to most of the University’s residential colleges.
“I’m really excited about [the new shop], especially since the location on Whitney [Avenue], it’s not far, but it seems pretty far,” Lee said. “It’s really nice to have a location that’s more central to this part of town.”
In addition to the two Crêpes Choupette locations, Chokairy opened Au Chalet, which specializes in a Swiss-inspired dish called raclette, at 24a Whitney Ave. in May, 2017.
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