Small Business Spotlight of the Week: NuCrepes Amanda | October 12th, 2011
My first experience eating crepes was on a speech trip to Berkeley. Yours truly was speech and debate captain in high school and got to go on some pretty amazing trips. Despite having a fine and broad array of traveling experience in high school, those crepes in Berkeley are probably the thing I look back at most fondly. I went back to Minnesota full of longing for any kind of crepe to satiate my cravings.
Imagine my delight when crepe shops began popping up around the city of Chicago. And now, to further my delight, a Chicago creperie has posted a project on crowdSPRING. Today I bring you NuCrepes.
Currently, NuCrepes can be found by any Chicagoans reading this at the Downer’s Grove farmer’s market, at the corner of Main Street and Burlington. Conveniently, this also happens to be the Downer’s Grove Metra station. These aren’t just standard jam’n'Nutella fare, either. NuCrepes wants to expand people’s crepe palate by offering choices such as buffalo chicken or peanut butter and bacon.
Founder, Niall, explained further how he makes crepes so good, they make you say “HOLY CREPE!”:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
We make crepes beyond your wildest imaginations. Gone are the days of just sugar and jam; now are the “Nu” creations that will beg you to try them. It’s as simple as 1-2-3. Step 1: Order whatever crepe your heart desires. Step 2: Enjoy delicious crepe (careful, it goes by fast). Step 3: Repeat as necessary. Disclaimer: you will not want to share.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
Amongst my search for the perfect identity for my “Nu” restaurant, I had found some original concepts I liked. It was still early in the brainstorming process when a friend heard of my quest for the perfect logo. He suggested crowdSPRING; I was definitely intrigued. Nu Crepes is a young company and definitely will not follow any single path so I thought it was a perfect match. I turned out to be right.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
We have to define our food and environment different than a lot of places. Why should you come eat here? Well, because it’s the healthy alternative to fast food and it’s all about visual enrichment as well. We offer a fast-casual dining experience for our customers either on-the-go or who prefer to stay and enjoy the many sights/sounds of Nu Crepes.
Another thing I’ve found not difficult, but is definitely something that needs to be addressed, is educating the population on crepes. Usually people are very intrigued when they see the process, but they have no idea what it is. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s just a delicious crepe. I also have to convert the people who think crepes just belong with preserves and other traditional French fare.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
How to make crepes! You have to be on your game when making crepes so finding the right layout and rhythm is always a challenge. I’m surprised at how often my process changes, although it usually makes things more efficient.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
Beyond people coming back to tell us how good the food was, I’d have to say the origins of this restaurant is the beginnings of its crazy story.
Traveling abroad with a handful of friends, I found myself freshly graduated and not willing to enter the financial world for which my degree prepped me for. Amongst our travels we stopped in at an urban creperie. Not only was the food good, but the place was insanely busy. The original thought was, “how come there isn’t a place like this near Chicago?” which was quickly followed by, “why can’t I do this?” The rest is history, albeit a very brief history.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
Maybe go back and get a degree which better suited my needs. Although had I done that, I might not have been inspired traveling. In this particular case, everything so far has happened for good reason.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
My experience at a local farmers market has proven invaluable to R&D. Not only have we been able to test the waters for minimal cost, but we get to try new recipes all the time. Based on local demand and the progression of things, I definitely plan on expanding to wherever a “Nu”, fast-casual experience is in dire need of.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Never set limits. Explore your options.