Know when to fold ’em

Kanawha City crepe shop offers some sweet temptations

By Julie Robinson Staff writer

Manoli and Aoleen Stavrulakis’ lives are a little simpler today than they were when they owned and ran Mykonos restaurant downtown. These days, they make and fill crepes at Café Creperi, in a cozy spot tucked behind Penn Station in Kanawha City.

Manoli and Aoleen Stavrulakis’ lives are a little simpler today than they were when they owned and ran Mykonos restaurant downtown. These days, they make and fill crepes at Café Creperi, in a cozy spot tucked behind Penn Station in Kanawha City. Their increasingly steady stream of customers tell them they’re glad to have a place to get a steaming cup of coffee and a breakfast treat in the mornings.

“We’re serving really good coffee, Seattle’s Best. It’s a little more expensive, but our customers really like to stop here for a good cup of coffee in the morning,” he said. “The people in Kanawha City didn’t really have a place to get cappuccino or espresso.”

Customers who don’t rush out the door with a cup of joe relax at the leather-upholstered chairs and tables in the cozy seating area. They watch the Stavrulakises as they carefully spread batter to the edge of one of the two $900 crepe-making machines sitting on the glass-fronted counter. They order either the delicate white flour batter (best for the sweet crepe fillings) or the buckwheat flour, a heartier batter that holds up well with the heavier savory fillings.

By: Chip Ellis Manoli Stavrulakis dresses a Greek crepe while customers wait for their turn to order a freshly made crepe. Manoli and his wife Aoleen opened Café Creperi at 4002 MacCorkle Ave.

The sweet combinations are the most popular, especially Belgian chocolate or Nutella with fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana and/or almonds. They top the chocolate and fruit with hand-whipped cream and a mocha, caramel or fruit sauce. Crepe Buena features butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, almonds and raisins. Pineapple, honey and walnuts fill Crepes de Pin.

Last week, a group of school children on a French class outing happily munched away on the sweet crepes. Café Creperi is open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., although they plan to stay open later to accommodate customers who say they’d enjoy a dessert crepe after dining out elsewhere.

The Stavrulakises also offers ice cream on crepes, but not just any ice cream. They feature flavors from their old friend Ellen Beal, whose ice cream shop stands across from Mykonos’ former location on Capitol Street.

Crepes aren’t only sweet treats. Café Creperi serves crepes with ham and cheese, eggs, jam, cream cheese or butter and apples to the breakfast crowd. They recently complied with on-the-go-customers’ requests and began serving bagels and muffins.

The menu evolves as they see needs develop. Savory fillings include Greek, cheese, shrimp, salmon and crab fillings. Stuffed with baby spinach, feta cheese, roma tomatoes, purple onions and olives, and dressed with their signature dressing at Mykonos, the Greek crepe bursts with fresh flavor.

By: Chip Ellis Stavrulakis hands over a dessert crepe filled with Belgian chocolate, bananas and strawberries, topped with freshly whipped cream and strawberry ice cream from Ellen’s, drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with powdered sugar.

They intended to fill crepes with prosciutto, chicken, roast beef and pork, but the lease prohibits the sale of meat entrees, which would be too similar to their neighbor’s offerings at Penn Station. The landlord had always intended to put a coffeehouse in the Creperi’s location.

“It’s OK. Penn Station cannot sell coffee and we can’t sell meat,” he said. “We can do them for catering jobs, though.”

Aoleen bakes the treats showcased in the glass-fronted display case, which usually include tiramisu, baklava, cheesecake, biscotti, and layer cakes.

Today, Aoleen and Manoli run the Creperi together, but plan to hire some help soon. They work in tandem, and one slips away mid-afternoon to pick up their two young sons from school. Flexibility is crucial advantage of their small operations.

“We’re really happy to be here. Family is so important,” he said. “Business is good. It’s healthy, but not crazy. We can tell from the empty plates that our customers love it.”

What Our Customers Say

“This is a comfortable cafe with GREAT food! The staff was super friendly and we hope to go back often. I highly recommend a visit.”

Bill, Teays Valley, WV

“Cute little place and the baklava was amazing.”

Makenzie, Charleston, WV

“I loved the gyro and there are so many great menu items to choose.”

Ranae, Marmet, WV