It’s close to impossible to dislike crepes. The thin-in-stature yet rich-in-flavor pancake can wrap itself around a mixture of flavors – savory and sweet, breakfast, lunch or dinner – making it easily customizable to anyone’s tastes and, as one restaurateur has found, a smart concept for the fast-casual food market.
“I’ve been in the food business for over 25 years, and when I came to Canada, I was looking for something different,” explains Oded Yefet, founder, owner and CEO of Crepe Delicious. “I was looking for what was missing in North America, but I also wanted it to be something healthful. That’s how I decided to go with crepes.”
That mission started in 2004 and since then, others have bought into the concept, as well. In fact, through franchising, Crepe Delicious has grown to 23 stores, and only one of those is corporate-owned. A few also house Froshberg Gelato, another concept developed and owned by Yefet. Though the gelato is in a different food category, Yefet explains that it complements the Crepe Delicious concept.
“Crepe Delicious is fresh and made to order,” Yefet says. “There’s no frying or high sodium, the whole menu is healthy and includes lots of veggies. With the gelato, it’s the healthiest ice cream you can find. Gelato is lower in fat than traditional ice cream, there’s no cream, only fresh ingredients. It’s all fresh food. I like that customers can see us create. The crepes are made from scratch and the gelato is made from scratch in the store.”
From Here to There
This year, Crepe Delicious is embarking on an international expansion. The company already spans east to west in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia with one location at University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. It is laying the groundwork to open 20 locations in the United States, beginning in northern states and then working its way south.
“We are working with our lawyer to finish all the compliances to expand in the U.S., and we will be ready to go soon,” Yefet explains. “We will start with the northern states, which will be easier for us because they are more familiar with Crepe Delicious in Canada. We will go to New York, Washington, Minnesota, Boston and then spread south looking into states like Texas.”
As Crepe Delicious spreads into the United States, it is preparing to cut the ribbon on two Middle Eastern locations owned and operated by franchisees. A new store in Kuwait will open Dec. 15 and a Tbilisi, Georgia, store will open in January 2013. Just like in the United States and Canada, Yefet says the easily adaptable crepe concept will fit in well with these countries.
Something for Everyone
“We appeal to everyone’s tastes – kids, adults, seniors – everyone likes our crepes and we can serve every type of customer,” Yefet explains. “In the Middle East, for example, you cannot sell pork so we will have a different menu. If we were in China, we would have crepes with teriyaki, or rice-filled. In Georgia, which is more like Western Europe or Canada or the U.S., the menu can be the same but we will also have customized items for that country. For instance, they really like onions there, and we will have a special crepe with raisins and cinnamon.”
Crepe Delicious’ wide menu and ingredients mean every customer can have something unique, but Yefet says the one thing that every customer should receive is great service. In fact, the passion to deliver great customer service is one of the factors considered when Crepe Delicious signs with a new franchisee, he says. In return, Crepe Delicious offers its franchisees great customer service through several support operations.
“We have many menu changes so we have in-house marketing and advertising,” Yefet says. “We have twice-a-year visits and are available six days a week to answer questions for franchisees. We are onsite with them the first two weeks of opening, helping them run the location. What we look for is someone who can give great customer service. That’s the main thing we care for. Our main goal is to give the best customer service to all our clients.”