By, Corina Cappabianca
Nestled between Oren’s Daily Roast and Cafe University on Waverly Place sits Crepeaway, a tasty haven for crepes. At a location so central to New York University’s “campus,” it’s no wonder why so many students frequent the eatery. With cheerful background music and a lovely lavender décor, Crepeaway has quite the inviting ambiance.
Yet, not many customers know the story and the man behind Crepeaway’s beginnings.
While, Crepeaway opened its doors in New York City almost one year ago last March, the creperie is originally based out of Athens, Greece and even has a location in Washington, D.C.
But in order to understand Crepeaway’s unique set of locations, one must first learn the background of the company’s president, Saad Jallad. Jallad, a native of Athens, Greece, came to America to attend school at American University in 1999. A typical college student, Jallad would go out with friends on the weekends and “would be looking for crepe places to go to because that’s how we used to do it in Athens, Greece where I went to high school,” he says. However, according to Jallad, there were no crepe places near American University. That’s when Jallad said, “Why don’t we try to start a crepe place in the Washington D.C. area and see what happens?”
He started the restaurant in 2004 at George Washington University, which he calls a “huge success” and “very popular,” especially after the hours. “Crepes are a light product… it’s nice to get something light after you go out with your friends, and that’s where the idea came from,” he explains.
Crepeaway is a family owned business. Although Jallad does most of the work, he says of the company, “It is family oriented, and we also employ family members… we like to keep it like that.”
In fact, Jallad came to New York City because of his girlfriend, who went to George Washington University. When she was accepted into NYU’s nutrition program, she wanted Jallad to move with her. “I said well I have to have something to do there… if you find me a place to open a Crepeaway at New York University, I would come to New York,” Jallad remarks. Indeed, his girlfriend found the current Waverly Place location, which used to be home to another creperie, Crepe Creations. “I approached the owner, and I bought it from him, and we opened a year later,” he says.
Being across from NYU’s Silver Center, Crepeaway generates a lot of traffic. Jallad says that he brings in about 250 customers, and serves between 250 and 300 crepes per day.
Crepeaway is open from 11:30 am to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, but stays open to 3 am on Thursdays and 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays. The busiest time of day is between 12 pm to 2 pm.
In order to keep up with the orders, Jallad has seven circular griddle machines. It takes about a minute for the Crepe batter about, to solidify. Then it is we sent it either the savory section or the sweet section. Once it gets to the savory section, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to crisp. The sweet ones are left on the griddle for only about a minute longer so that they remain a little bit fluffy.
The difference between a sweet and savory crepe solely has to do with the ingredients put into the crepe. The batter is exactly the same for both the crepes, which has a neutral taste to it.
As for the batter, “It’s a pancake, so whatever is in a pancake is in a crepe,” Jallad says. The difference is that for crepes, the batter is spread out very thin.
When speaking about the different crepes offered, Jallad remarks, “My favorite crepe is the Caesar. It’s got cheese, chicken, bacon tomatoes and Caesar dressing. And my favorite sweet crepe is the Cameron. It has just Nutella chocolate and vanilla cookies sprinkled all over it. It’s really good.”
However among customers, the most popular sweet crepe is the angel crepe, which has Nutella, strawberries, and bananas. The most popular savory crepe is the Dr. J, which has cheese, ham, turkey, tomatoes, mushrooms, and honey mustard.
Looking behind the counter, it is apparent that Jallad uses all fresh ingredients too.
Yet, even with Crepeaway’s success, it faces some sources of competition within a small radius- most notably from Vive le Crepe on University Place and Vive la crepe on Bleecker Street.
However, Jallad confidently states, “I feel that our product is superior, and our prices are much better, and our service is much quicker.”
In comparing his Washington D.C. eatery to his New York City location, Jallad explains, “The New York customers want their stuff fast… everybody here is in a rush, and they’re taking their stuff to go with them. Whereas in Washington D.C., it’s a much more relaxed environment, where people sit and have a good time, order a drink, have a savory crepe first and then have their sweet crepe afterwards.”
With affordable crepes between $6-8, quick service, and online ordering, Crepeaway caters to the college aged crowd. Jallad also reaches out to campus groups for fundraisers. Clubs can pick an hour during the day to try to bring in as many customers as possible for a cause and Crepeaway will kick back 30 percent of what it makes back to the organization.