By Patty Talahongva
Looking for authentically French with a splash of southwest flavor? That’s what you’ll get at The Crepe Club, located inside the Biltmore Fashion Park on 24th Street and Camelback Road. It’s a concept three brothers from Syria started dreaming about when visiting their grandparents in Paris.
“Our first stop in Paris was the crepe shop; we’d drive from the airport straight to the shop,” recalls Fares Tarabichi, who attended a French boarding school when he was young. In time, the owner of that crepe shop gladly shared his recipe with the brothers, who later decided to open their own crepe “cart” while still in college.
The brothers attended Arizona State University, where Fares majored in political science. Omar earned his business degree, and Karim earned an engineering degree. Today they are all partners in The Crepe Club, and have three locations (two at ASU) with two more coming soon to Scottsdale and Chandler.
Fares handles the day-to-day operations, Omar takes care of the website, photos and social media, while Karim watches the finances. Their staff of 55 (14 at the Phoenix location) wear shirts emblazoned with, “Let them eat crepes,” a nod to a famously beleaguered French queen.
Crepe means crisp or curled in French and there’s a definite technique to making the perfect crepe. There are sweet crepes and savory crepes on the menu, and vegetarian options available for both. Being in the southwest, the eatery provides hot sauce to add to your savory crepe and Fares now adds Sriracha right into the crepe batter (currently by request). When cooked, it adds a nice smoky-spicy flavor to the crepe that stands out and makes the rest of the food pop.
New to the menu is the fig jam and brie ($8.45 for a regular and $4.99 for a mini). Regulars requested this specific crepe and now it’s on the menu. “We listen to our customers,” Fares points out. Menu changes typically take place about twice a year. If you follow the company on Instagram, you have a chance to be selected at random to come in and test the new items for free.
There are two sizes available, including the breakfast crepes. The small ones, such as the mushroom, egg and Swiss cheese, will run you $4.85 and the regular size chicken, egg and avocado costs $9.45. Classic or Nutella croissant French toast is $6.45. Despite its name, The Crepe Club also serve a variety of waffles, the most expensive and most packed of which is the “The S’mores The Better,” which includes two stacked waffles filled with Nutella, marshmallows, Biscoff crumbles and vanilla ice cream for $12.95.
Of course, the coffee is served in a French press. The Crepe Club also serves cappuccino and a Biscoff or Nutella latte, all around the $5 price point. You can also bring in your own bottle of wine to enjoy and there is no corkage fee.
Lunchtime offerings include paninis and croissant sandwiches with a side salad for around $10, and a selection of entrée salads. The menu offers crepe wraps – the customer favorite is the smoked salmon for $10.95. A selection of French pastries also are available in the cold case by the register.
Fares says he didn’t know how much he would end up enjoying running a restaurant but he’s found great satisfaction with all aspects of the business. He works on not just making good crepes and a profit but also on employee satisfaction.
He can often be found making crepes or bringing meals to diners’ tables. “I love being in the trenches,” he says—even cleaning bathrooms. ”When you are in the trenches you realize what’s working and what’s not.”
Fares still cooks every day. “I spin for 30 to 40 minutes at our ASU location,” he says. “Spinning” is crepe lingo on how to properly spread the batter on the griddle. People can walk by The Crepe Club at the Biltmore and watch through the window as each crepe is handmade by carefully spinning the batter around on the griddle with a special wooden tool. Of the three brothers, Fares says he and Karim can spin. “Omar can eat,” he teases.
Feb. 2 is National Crepe Day and The Crepe Club is marking the occasion by giving away Nutella or Parisian crepes (one per person, take-out only) from 2 to 5 p.m. Check the Facebook page for details on this special as well as specials for Valentine’s Day.
Catering is available for both indoors and outdoors, and the entire Biltmore location can be rented out for private parties (seats 35-38 people). The cost depends on time of day, day of week and season; it can run from $30 to $40 per person.
The brothers believe in supporting the community and have held fundraisers for various charities as well as partnering with other local businesses, such as Press Coffee, which is served at all The Crepe Club locations. “I’m from Syria,” says Fares, “I was given an opportunity and I won’t take it for granted.”
Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 602-956-0087 or visit www.thecrepeclub.com.