On a recent balmy Monday afternoon, Anna Szpala placed a spoonful of off-whitish batter onto a large, flat, round pan. She added cut up strawberries, blueberries, and vanilla farmer’s cheese, carefully folding the edges of the now cooked batter. As she topped off her culinary creation with a drizzle of chocolate, a group of teenage girls passed by the open window near where she was cooking.
“Just look at it,” one of the girls exclaimed, staring longingly at the pan.
Voila! The crepe was devoured, and Crepeteria, a French-style café on Manhattan Avenue, was open for business, bringing its chef Szpala’s mouth-watering treats to Manhattan Avenue.
Crepeteria joins Charlotte Patisserie, another French-inspired restaurant just a few doors down, perhaps heralding a petit French-invasion of the neighborhood, but only time and the ever-changing commercial landscape of Greenpoint will be the judge of that.
Crepeteria is the result of the edible callings of Polish transplant Janusz Grzedzica, who moved to Ridgewood six years ago from Warsaw, Poland, to provide better educational opportunities for his kids and an improved ability to financially support his family.
He opened a deli in Ridgewood, and quickly added a tiny takeout window for crepes. It was an instant hit with local residents, and he started looking for a space to open a legitimate crepe business.
A year into his search, Greenpoint provided the ideal spot.
“They were asking me to pay $25,000 a month to rent a space in Williamsburg,” said Grzedzica. “You’d have to make cocaine in your basement to afford that kind of rent.”
In Greenpoint, he is getting more bang for the buck, including a tree-filled backyard, set up with half a dozen-odd rustic looking chairs and tables, reminiscent of a French-Riviera style setting.
But Greenpoint also meant familiarity. Grzedzica has been visiting the neighborhood since he moved here. It’s where he gets his Polish fix whenever he is homesick, from visiting Club Europa to getting pastries at a Polish bakery.
Grzedzica first dreamed up his crepe shop while visiting Creperie NYC on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village and thought, why not open a crepe shop closer to home?
With Crepeteria he did just that.
On an otherwise quiet Monday afternoon, dozens of customers checked out the new restaurant. Some grabbed coffees, but most remained, choosing to sample the fresh-off-the-pan crepes in the shop’s backyard.
One family of three made their way to the backyard through the quaint, narrow interiors of the shop, with low-hanging lights, painted wooden benches, and exposed brick finish.
“I love it here,” said Leah Haberer, who was visiting for the second time since the restaurant opened Saturday, and had brought along her two young children. “I just love the atmosphere here. They have great service, great food, and it’s so close to the park. We just ate here yesterday and we’re already back!”
Creating the ideal atmosphere is one of the key reasons Grzedzica enjoys running such a business. And interacting with customers regularly makes it even more fulfilling.
“This neighborhood is full of young, open-minded people who want to try different things,” said Grzedzica. “I like the diversity and this business needs it.”
At present, Crepeteria offers over two-dozen types of sweet and savory crepes, waffles, a variety of fresh juices, and coffee and tea. Every item on the menu is under $10.
“My favorite is the one with vanilla farmer’s cheese, strawberries, and blueberries for those who like sweet, and the smoked salmon, brie cheese, and spinach for those who like savory,” said Szpala, the chef at the crepe shop.
Next up for Grzedzica: He’d like to procure a wine license to serve brunch on the weekends. He wants to add a salad bar along with adding a delivery service.
For now he is wafting among the sweet smells of a successful opening.
Crepeteria, 614 Manhattan Avenue, Tel: 718-389-7844, Open Mon-Thu 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri-Sat 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., for more info visit https://www.facebook.com/crepeteria.brooklyn?fref=ts.