A husband and wife team work to make their small shop a success
By Kelsey Peart
Nestled in the corner of a half-residential, half-commercial cul-de-sac in the town of Wayne, Crêperie Béchamel serves up delicious and healthy crêpes.
The husband-and-wife team of Patrick and Jennifer Yasaitis work hard behind the counter, pumping out dozens of crêpes for hungry customers.
The small shop situated at the top of Louella Court. is a testament to the couple’s love for cooking and baking, letting Jennifer show off her skills as a pastry chef.
Although, the sweet crêpes are not their only specialty. The menu is divided into selections like breakfast, savory, kid friendly, dessert and classic sweet crêpes.
Patrick, of Bucks County, met Jennifer, of Delaware County, through mutual friends, “she was a friend-of-a-friend,” he says.
Their first date was at a crêperie in Philadelphia, which was–and still is–Patrick’s favorite food.
Now residing in Chesterbrook, not far from their crêperie, he says that they opened Crêperie Béchamel because “there weren’t a lot of places in the area where we could eat crepes the way we wanted.”
Jennifer had grown up and lived in Wayne so it feels “close to home. It’s our neighborhood.”
The crêperie has been open for three-and-a- half years, but “it hasn’t changed too, too much,” says Patrick. “You know, we are just trying to make things a little bit better. You get a little busier every day, every month. We have a lot of regulars we see a lot of the time, which is great. We improve as we can.”
On Saturdays, Crêperie Béchamel is packed. The tables are full and Jennifer’s actions are visible behind a short, glass divider, all the customers watch as they share gossip, catch up and chat.
Jennifer works methodically, pouring batter onto the crêpe pans. She pours a large dollop in the center, spreads it evenly and waits. Flips the crêpe with a thin, long spatula and waits.
In the back, less visible, Patrick cooks the ingredients that will be folded into the crêpes. From the veggies to the meats, he prepares the gooey fillings and delivers them in silver bowls to Jennifer.
The crêpes are cooked and Jennifer spreads the fillings in the center of the crêpe. She folds each end to form a large rectangle.
The crêpes are flipped one last time and cooked to a perfect shade of light brown. The lucky recipient’s name is called out from the counter.
Once seated with a crêpe, cutting into a corner releases the creamy béchamel, or cheesy mornay, depending on which savory crêpe was ordered.
The crêperie is so popular that during a lunch or dinner hour, it is hard to get a spot — inside or out.
Customers play a game of calculated musical chairs, trying to beat each other to a table before their crêpes are ready.
This Saturday scene is a perfect example of a typical day.
Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on most weekdays, Patrick says that the hours are the toughest part of running the crêperie “because you miss family and friends, you don’t get to see them too much” when most of your waking hours are spent preparing and making crepes.
“it gets busy really quickly,” says Patrick. “On a typical day, we will get up and be in by 8 a.m. and start cooking. We’ll be preparing food for a good few hours.”
They start with the batter and the sauces, “then we cook all of our meats and vegetables. Tons of cooking,” he says.
All of this is preparing for lunch, “the lunch crowd comes in and we serve everything that we prepared in the morning, and then after lunch we clean up.”
Cleaning up includes washing the big stack of dishes that are usually teetering by the time lunch comes to an end. They are all cleaned by hand.
Around 3 or 4 p.m., they can finally start preparing for dinner, “the whole process starts again, then we serve dinner and clean up,” Patrick says, “hopefully we get out of work at 9 or 10 p.m. Sometimes, we’ll get out at midnight.”
This is the routine almost every day with Sundays being their shorter days. On weekends, they do have one part-time employee, but “it is just primarily my wife and I,” Patrick explains.
Patrick’s favorite thing about opening a restaurant with his wife is “everything.” From being able to collaborate with her, to seeing the experience their customers have with their food.
“When you open, you don’t know if people are going to like it, and you won’t know until you start. You just know that you like it,” Patrick says.
Luckily for the team, “people have been supportive since the beginning, they love our food. It keeps us going.”
This is also his favorite thing about running the crêperie: “the people.”
“It is the hospitality business. We love meeting new people and we see a lot of the same people. Some have been coming since day one, so it’s really cool,” says Patrick. “The people are what it’s all about.”
Of course, it is all about the food, too, “we are really obsessed with the food,” he explains, “it’s not the biggest place, but it is the best we could do and we put everything
into making the best food that we can. When people like it, that’s just awesome.”
Locally and healthfully
When asked about his favorite, Patrick cannot lie. “They are all my favorites,” he says. “I eat a lot of crêpes with peanut butter, real basic stuff like that because I’ll eat six or seven crêpes a day,” plus, “they’re good for you!”
Patrick explains that their crêpe batter is made with 100% whole wheat. They use winter wheat, “a hard wheat flour that’s even better for you than whole wheat flour, it’s packed with fiber and nutrients,” Patrick says, “they’re really high in fiber, so they’re filling and they don’t have a lot of fat.”
A gluten free option that uses a buckwheat and brown rice flour is also available.
Both Patrick and Jennifer try to eat healthfully, and “most of our food is really healthy,” Patrick promises, “the dessert crêpes are, obviously, high in sugar,” he laughs, “but everything that we make, we take this into mind.”
According to their website, “everything is fresh, natural and homemade from scratch on the premises. We choose the finest, freshest, locally sourced quality ingredients possible.”
“Basically, they have to be healthy,” Patrick says, “a lot of people think that the béchamel is a really heavy cream sauce, but we make the white sauce with milk, and we don’t need to use a lot. It complements the crêpes so it doesn’t take a ton, it’s not like what people think.”
Jennifer and Patrick have eaten everything on the menu, and continue to do so every day, “the chicken cheesesteak was my lunch for a while,” says Patrick. “That wasn’t on the menu when we first opened and we put it on the menu after a little bit because I really liked it.”
Originally, they had hundreds of recipes they considered, “we have an unlimited amount of recipes. What’s on the menu now is what we narrowed it down to when we opened.”
The food they make, “is the kind of food that we like to eat,” Patrick explains. “We took all the recipes that we really like to put into crêpes and found the ones that worked best. That’s what we’ve been using for years.”
The mushrooms are Patrick’s favorite thing to cook, “I take a lot of pride in our mushrooms because we use fresh mushrooms from Kennett Square that we get almost every day,” he explains, “I know that the quality of the mushrooms–what we put into preparing them–the freshness is on par with meals from fine dining restaurants.”
Kennett Square is the “mushroom capital of the world,” according to their website, due to the area’s extensive mushroom farming. The region produces over “a million pounds of mushrooms a week,” and holds an annual Mushroom Festival that serves all kinds of mushroom-related foods.
Following Patrick’s ideals of buying locally when possible, he loves that Kennett Square is so accessible to the crêperie.
The downside to using fresh and local produce is the fact that they cannot always promise favorites from the menu will be available all the time, “we just can’t guarantee to people that we have everything every day. Sometimes we get stuff we have to send back, local produce that’s just not up to par. It makes things a little trickier,” Patrick explains.
On the other hand though, the crêperie is able to “always feature specials with what’s fresh, every week.”
One of a kind
“We wanted to be original. You know, you go into a lot of creperies and see the same styles, but you can get that anywhere,” Patrick says, “I’m not sure if there’s anything like us, I really don’t think there is.”
One of the big differences is in price, “we are a lot cheaper,” Patrick asserts, “I wanted this to be a place where I would eat every day. So I’d have to be able to afford to eat here every day.”
On top of that, they believe that their crêpes are healthier than what is found at other crêperies, “it is food you can afford to eat every day and it’s good for you, so you can eat it every day and feel good,” Patrick says, “We want people to eat crêpes more often, so everything we do is really focused around that.”
One of only two crêperies on the Main Line, Crêperie Béchamel is one of the highest rated crêperies in Philadelphia. On every possible restaurant-rating website, Crêperie Béchamel comes out at 4.5 stars and above.
With about eight more crêperies in the city of Philadelphia, very few menus look like Crêperie Béchamel’s.
Most reviews from the restaurant’s Yelp page recommend ordering a savory and then a sweet crêpe, which they will typically prepare in order so that the sweet crêpe can be enjoyed for dessert without any rush to finish the savory.
Every online review follow the same lines as one that reads, “the crêpes are always top notch, and the service is excellent.”
The crêperie is popular among Bryn Mawr College students, too. Meredith Cobb, ‘16, says she loves how accessible it is.
Just a few train stops away, she walks a short four minutes to their front door.
Her favorite crêpes are the sugary and sweet ones, “I love eating a crêpe filled with seasonal berries, and their original dessert crêpes make my mouth water!” she says.
One of her favorite stops for brunch on the weekends, Cobb is as enthusiastic about their dedication to local eating as they are, “I feel so strongly about supporting local things, and I know that eating at Crêperie Béchamel mean I am giving back to my community in a larger way than just frequenting a local business.”
She is also a big mushroom fan and was excited to hear the crêperie’s are supplied from Kennett Square, “I have made it a point to go to that Mushroom Festival over these past few years, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Crêperie Béchamel bought their mushrooms from my favorite place!”
“The crêperie is one of my favorite hidden gems,” Cobb gushes, “although I’m not a true ‘regular’ by any means, I like to think of myself as a loyal customer. And, everyone I refer to the crêperie definitely become ‘loyal customers,’ too.”
From Bryn Mawr to greater Philadelphia, the Yasaitis’ have definitely made a permanent mark in the crêpe scene.