You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

What crepe? restaurant aims for February opening on Ann Arbor's East Liberty Street

By Lizzy Alfs


The interior of what crepe? in downtown Ann Arbor, which is still under construction, has been completely transformed during the last few months.

Melanie Maxwell |

From spicy chicken truffle to chocolate eclair and cinnamon sugar, more than 50 varieties of sweet and savory crepes will be available in downtown Ann Arbor next month when what crepe? opens.

Owner P.J. Jenkins plans to open the restaurant at 241 E. Liberty St. on Feb. 14.

“There has been a great buzz,” Jenkins said. “I’m really excited about it.”

Jenkins, a self-described “fifth generation entrepreneur,” owns what crepe? restaurants in Royal Oak and Birmingham. He decided to venture to Ann Arbor when he found the “hidden jewel” on East Liberty Street — formerly Squares Restaurant.


P.J. Jenkins poses for a photo in what will be his third location for what crepe? in the former Squares space on East Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

During the past few months, the 2,600-square-foot space has been transformed into a stylish French eatery with rich red fabrics, chandeliers and reclaimed barn wood from Milan, Mich.

“We wanted to make sure we are chic but still very vintage and classy at the same time,” Jenkins described. “It’s very artsy.”

Jenkins lived in Ann Arbor for 10 years, and he said making what crepe? a part of the community is crucial. From banking with Bank of Ann Arbor to serving wine and beer from local distributors, Jenkins said he’s trying to support local businesses.

“We understand the town and we’ve paid attention to the town,” he said. “We’re doing what it takes to make customers happy.”

What crepe? offers a wide variety of customizable crepes, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items. Jenkins said he’s also diversifying the menu and including items like French toast, quiche, omelets and other options. The average price for a crepe is $10 to $12, but higher-end crepes can reach $14 to $16. (View the menu)

“If you’re not in the mood for a crepe, then we’ve still got you covered,” he said.

The most popular crepes, he said, are the mushroom madness, signature rib eye truffle, spicy chicken truffle, chocolate eclair and mixed berry.

Get Ann Arbor news in your inbox

Keep your finger on the pulse of the Ann Arbor business community by signing up for the Business Review newsletter sent out early every Thursday morning. You can also sign up for the daily 3@3 email to see our best local stories every day.

The restaurant will offer French press coffee, espresso drinks, beer and wine. It will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. Jenkins said he’s hired 26 employees for the Ann Arbor restaurant and still has several openings.

As for future expansion plans? Jenkins said his hands are full with three locations, but he’s not ruling out more restaurants down the road.

“This is double the size we’re used to doing,” he said. “I’m going to keep the what crepe? brand between these three for the next couple years."

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Le chat

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

It should be renamed What Crap! Food hastily made low quality ingredients Service below average a tad arrogant Decor nice but really who goes to eat out for the decor! Price ridiculous ! Forgive my French


Sun, Mar 31, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

I love this place already. We went yesterday for lunch and split one savory (mushroom/spinach/ asparagus) and one sweet (the Nutty Monkey). Today we went back for dinner and had the Mushroom Madness and the Standby. Definitely a splurge for us to go back-to-back but it was so good. The service was great. We'll go back. Not tomorrow but soon. I hope they make it.

Ann Arbor Nurse

Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

Jenkins sure is easy on the eyes

Barbara Brown

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

It's nice that we have an alternative to the far, far pricier Cafe Zola and their crepes. excited to see them open!

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Wishing What Crepe? all the best and looking forward to visiting. The reclaimed barn wood siding looks great.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Too expensive and chairs and tables are too close together. Is this New York City? Personally I think the name of the restaurant is silly. Makes no sense. I predict they will either lower prices or be out of business in 6 months.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

The restaurant is still under construction so I'm not sure the chairs and tables will stay in that layout.

George K

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

"...vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items" That's what I like to hear! Now make a grain-free vegan crepe and maybe I'll stop by sometime. Defeat the wheat!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

If you offer safe gluten-free crepes, I will be there often!

David Wanner

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

I forgot to add, good luck to you.

David Wanner

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Does anyone else remember the Chez Crepe downtown back in the early 80's? The place was run by an older couple from France and great food was served.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Absolutely! I went there in 1976 with my first date in Washtenaw Co. It was small, romantic, delicious, and the proprietors were wonderful people. I believe it was located on Main near William next door to the Central Cafe.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

Just a note about the prices: PJ did say that people often come in the restaurant and split one crepe because some of them are very large. A good way to get the prices down when you're dining out.

Simon Green

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

That's encouraging. That rule probably applies to many restaurants where the portions (and cost) are "American" sized and could be split. (that said, I find that temptation gets the better of me and I eat the whole darn thing)


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

The prices are the new average if you ask me, go to Potbellies and get a meal for $8 to $9 easily.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

What, no blini?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

not a bad idea.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Ms. Alfs, thanks for the article. It makes it easier to keep track of new destinations in A2 to visit.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Thanks for reading!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

I love What Crepe! I have been to the Royal Oak location a few times and it is wonderful. This is a great addition to Ann Arbor.

Simon Green

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

I remember on a rare trip abroad the fantastic crepes in Paris, they were plentiful at street food vendors, not to mention they were priced like street food. Part of the appeal.. While I can appreciate that the financial requirements of a prime location brick and mortar establishment in downtown AA dictate a higher price point, a $12-15 crepe sort of misses the mark for me. All the best but I am dismayed by the trend of overpriced "street" food themes. Sometimes you don't want to drop $20 on lunch (including beverage, tax, tip)


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

I can assure you that these crepes will not resemble those in Paris, whether offered as street food or in a cafe. My wife and I recently visited Paris, and crepes are everywhere, very high quality and very cheap.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Lizzy, you didn't address this question in your story on Mr. Jenkins in the first article in September, either. Is he still a part-owner of The Black Pearl on Main St.? See (5h paragraph under his Biography) And someone might want to recommend he change the spelling of "bread" to "bred" in the first sentence on that page.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Peter, there is no "And," just pointing out the apparent discrepancy in the story (which gives the impression that this is his first business venture in Ann Arbor) and the apparent mischaracterization (with the previously stated caveat) of the extent of his ownership in The Black Pearl (co-owner vs. small passive investor). That's it. If I left you begging for more, my regrets.

Peter Baker

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.



Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Thanks, Lizzy. So, he's not really new to the Ann Arbor business community with this crepe venture, is he? From his above-cited biography, "He entered the culinary arts field in 2008 as co-owner of "The Black Pearl," a successful seafood restaurant and martini bar in Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan." Either the extent of his ownership in The Black Pearl has changed since 2008 (certainly a possibility), or this part of his biography comes across as inflated. Being "a small passive investor" in a venture would normally not be characterized as being a "co-owner."

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

From P.J.: "I am a small passive investor in Black Pearl."

suzie q

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

you should open earlier than 11am with all of those delicious sounding breakfast friendly items on your menu


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Shouldn't it be "which crepe?"

say it plain

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

It's a terrific choice for a restaurant name, methinks... anyone who says elsewise, I say "what crepe!" ;-) The cheeky name's made me laugh both times I've seen a story about the place. So, I guess I'll have to try it even though I tend to find crepe places dull. Maybe they will be exceptional, and amuse in more than one way!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Dumb name, whether it's what crepe or which crepe. Just a poor choice for a restaurant name.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

yeah, our lives have enough "crepe" to deal with it as it is.....yuk

Ed Kimball

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Don't give the poor guy so much crepe!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Wishing you guys the best and good luck. I hope you guys make it in this lockation..... no one else has made it.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Too steep prices and too "artsy" for me, but if you're going to get a second free plug in Ann, you might want to change the "Coming December 2012" first on your website. I do wish him success, wait and see if A2 wants an artsy restaurant.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

I believe Ann Arbor loves being artsy and well you get what you pay for. So if you want to have fresh and delicious options than you pay for the product. Who cares if the website has not been update on the date big deal. I've ate at both locations and the food is fabulous!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

Totally agree. Restaurant layout is too crowded. This is not NYC, though the high prices seem to reflect NYC more than what a midwestern college town, A2, should be.