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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:05 a.m.

What crepe? opening without fanfare in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed


This is Paul Jenkins' third what crepe? store. He describes himself as a "fifth generation entrepreneur."

Ann Arbor’s newest restaurant was preparing to open Friday morning on East Liberty Street. What crepe? has been renovating the former Squares restaurant since owner P.J. Jenkins signed a lease for the space in September.

The new French-style eatery was scheduled to open at 11 a.m. at 241 E. Liberty St., but Jenkins said he has not done much promotion around the city. The “soft opening” will be used to train staff and make sure that everything in the shop is running smoothly.

“We want to organically open the doors and work out the first week’s kinks before we really hit the town [with advertising],” he said.

“We want to be sure we’re ready for Ann Arbor before we go out spreading the word everywhere.”

As snow fell in the Ann Arbor area Friday morning, Jenkins was undeterred by the opening day weather. He said there was a similar snowstorm when another branch of the restaurant opened in Birmingham last year. Up to 2 inches of snow was expected in Ann Arbor Friday, with a mix of snow and freezing drizzle possible later.

Thumbnail image for WhatCrepe_OpeningDay_MushroomCrepe.jpg

A "Mushroom Madness Crepe" at What Crepe? Kellie Woodhouse |

“It was the same thing [last time], but it didn’t hurt us at all,” he said.

“What crepe? has been tabbed as a cozy intimate dining spot, so if people do decide they want to go out tonight, we’re the kind of place they will want to go. We do well in cold weather.”

The store is also opening with its full liquor license, Jenkins said, so diners who go out can reward themselves with a hot toddy or other warm drink. There will also be coffee, tea, beer, and wine available.

In addition to the restaurant’s main draw, the customizable crepes, it will serve a variety of breakfast options including French toast, quiche and omelets. The average price for a crepe will be $10 to $12, with options ranging up $16. (view the menu)

“I’m not the chef, but I wish I was so I could take credit for some of the things he’ll be cooking up,” Jenkins said.

“… Our spicy chicken truffle is pretty amazing. And the crepe chocolate eclair is the most amazing dessert on our menu.”

Everything is made fresh in-house, and the menu will also offer a range of vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options, including entre-sized salads.

“Our guys were so excited about getting everything ready for today that some of them slept in the restaurant last night,” Jenkins said Friday.

“They said they didn’t want to go back to Birmingham and then drive here in the morning. With all this snow it certainly looks like they made a good choice.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

We were a party of two adults and two kids, and all four enjoyed. The crepes were more substantial than we thought they would be so we did not end up ordering a sweet crepe for dessert as planned. We had the James Dean (scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, cheese with an interesting cherry maple sauce) and the Mexican (chorizo, eggs, cheese, avocado, spicy sauce) and both were hot, tasty and filling. Service was attentive and the kids enjoyed watching the crepes being made. Atmosphere was less casual than we expected but still comfortable and nice. I think it's worth checking out.'' I do agree with someone above that having a less sweet crepe for the savory choices would have been nice.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

My honest review of What crepe? Tasty; nice digs, but I got a $4 crepe at the Flint Crepe Company yesterday that I liked as much as their nearly $16 crepe. Also, I appreciate them offering vegan options, but not sure how I feel about the extra $1 surcharge to make a crepe vegan?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

This place doesn't really need fancy, expensive advertising. Just keep posting pictures of Paul like the one above and I bet that I - er, I mean - "some people" will go just for the scenery.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Don't expect real crepes from this place. They use the same sweet batter for both savory and dessert crepes and not traditional buckwheat flour for savory one.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

Ok, so real was the wrong adjective...It does not change that these are not that authentic....


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

Not to be picky, but technically sweet batter crepes are, in fact, real crepes. Even if called savory.

A2 rocks

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

Great to hear of a new restaurant with veggie & GF options! Thanks for considering all diners. All that and a cocktail too - yay What Crepe?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Although I've never been to the Royal Oak location, I've heard GREAT things about What Crepe? and I can't WAIT to try it.... I'm lucky that I work 2 blocks down the street, yay :) I'm craving a big crepe stuffed with lots of mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese! I love the fact that you can customize a crepe from scratch- I'm always modifying dishes on conventional menus and feel like that bugs the staff. Prices also seems reasonable, but it would be nice to see a few lunch combos like a half crepe with a small side salad or soup. Just an idea! Glad you have a liqour license as well- See you guys tonight !!

UM owns

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

This is a shill for the restaurant if I've ever seen one.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

I've enjoyed crepes around the word, including Paris and Tokyo, and I'm looking forward to trying them here!

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

That's my mushroom madness crepe in that picture- quite good!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

Good lord....I miss Dinersty.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Ha, Dinersty! I used to go there in the winter for wonton soup. Huge bowls for like $2. But yeah, I heard about what @Hmm is saying too... :-/.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

The only good thing about Dinersty was it was cheap and fast. They had horrible health department scores and they were caught purchasing expired meats. Not really that great


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

Pretty excited to hit up What Crepe; the Royal Oak location never disappoints. "The store is also opening with its full liquor license, Jenkins said", that is the key phrase in Scrabble. I'm pretty happy to see good established regional players jumping into the fray in Ann Arbor. Good luck!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

"… Our spicy chicken truffle is pretty amazing. And the crepe chocolate eclair is the most amazing desert on our menu." *dessert Good luck! Sounds like it will a great addition to the area.

Julie Baker

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Thanks, that's fixed.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

I'm looking forward to getting a good vegan crepe today! I had one from the Flint Crepe Company yesterday and it was out-of-this-world good, so we'll see how Ann Arbor's crepes measure up :)


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

I'm looking forward to a vegan crepe, too! :)


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

It sounds great! I hope they will consider gluten-free options.

Ben Freed

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Ash, P.J. told me that they will have gluten free options on the menu.

George K

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

You said the magic words: "...the menu will also offer a range of vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options, including entre-sized salads." If I can go with my meat-loving friends and get a hearty kale/spinach salad without meat, cheese or bread on it, I'll check it out.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

There have been three separate articles about this one yet-to-open restaurant... that's pretty good advertising right there!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

Also, I'd like to add that I'm very excited about the opening of What Crepe? and can't wait for the next time my in-laws want the kid so my wife and I can have a date night there.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

@Ben - Would love to see that strategy taken with new retail and non-food businesses downtown Ann Arbor...especially with the new Borders building development on-going. I point to stores like Rock, Paper, Scissors and Lily Grace on Main Street - they saw a fraction of the coverage some of the restaurants and beer gardens see when they open. I only know about those because I'm on Main street several times a week. I wonder what I'm missing on the streets with less foot traffic. I get it that everyone loves food, but I'd love to find a way to find out about more local businesses so I can try to support them all. I'm also one to call out exceptions - speaking of books - you've done a good job showcasing the upcoming Literati. Although, I do admit that the smoke shops do seem to get more coverage...albeit for more dubious reasons.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Advertising is a paid advertisement. Publicity if free.

Ben Freed

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Our standard coverage pattern for new restaurants is to publish one story when a lease is signed, a second about the strategy/food for the upcoming location, and a third when the restaurant opens. We do this because we think our readership wants to keep tabs on the food culture in Ann Arbor. I hope you enjoy the coverage!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Good luck! It's nice to see a vibrant downtown.