French Creperie will open in Chesterfield this spring
Natacha Douglas worked for years at various universities to help develop the education of students around the country, and now she is working to develop a thriving creperie in St. Louis. French Creperie at 17409 Chesterfield Airport Road in Chesterfield will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 21, with a grand opening slated for May 5.
A passion for crepes has been a part of Douglas since her childhood, growing up on the island of Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. Her mother would do almost all of the cooking back home, with the exception of one thing. “I was the crepe maker,” said Douglas. “I’ve always loved making crepes. That was the one thing I could do back home.” Douglas had a dream of opening a creperie one day, but that was put on the back burner for a while as she pursued another dream of hers.
Douglas moved to the U.S. to study international business, and eventually worked toward getting a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2012. She then fell in love with higher education, and began working for the University of Phoenix. “I discovered higher ed admissions because I knew what school had done for me,” said Douglas. “I wanted to do the same, help students enroll – especially international students.”
Her journey in admissions would take her across the country, but she now works as the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Logan University in Chesterfield, where she received her Doctorate of Health Professions Education. While she has worked in the admissions department of universities for years, the idea to open a crêperie came up again after a dinner with a friend in a nearby French restaurant. “I remember her saying, ‘Hey, can you imagine if you had your own restaurant? It would be so cool,’” said Douglas. “Two weeks later I think I just woke up and I was like, ‘That’s what I should do. I should open a creperie.’”
Now comes the tricky part – balancing both her job at Logan University, and her time working on the new creperie. “I have to find a way to make it work,” said Douglas. For now, that means opening the creperie Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. “The reason I'm doing Friday, Saturday, Sunday is because I can with my schedule.”
Jumping back and forth between her two passions can prove challenging, especially since working in admissions and owning a creperie are so different. “If you look at me, nobody would think I would own one.” But so far, Douglas has been able to make it work, with her high energy, and strong support from back home.
“My parents have been a big support, even from the island.” She often called her mom for advice, and the occasional recipe. “I’m making bechamel sauce,” said Douglas “That was something she made all the time. So, I need the recipe from her. The one online has nothing on the one from mom, you know?” Her parents are coming to Chesterfield from the French Caribbean to support her during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Douglas has spent her weekends over the last six months devoted to perfecting her vision for the 1,600-square-foot space – bringing in all new equipment and furniture for the crêperie. Eiffel towers pepper the cafe, a large mural of people hanging around embellishes one of the walls and French music fills the air. There are 12 tables inside and two tables outside.
For those looking for a classic French cafe experience, French Crêperie will offer specialty coffee by L’or – a coffee company in France whose name translates to “gold” in English. “It’s very popular back home,” said Douglas, who says that compared to other coffees, “it’s a little bit creamier.” The café will also offer hot chocolate and a variety of local wines. St. Louis, much like Guadeloupe, has rich French history, and Douglas wanted to add a local touch through the wine. “Why not incorporate a little bit of that?” Mimosas will also be available.
French Creperie will feature both sweet and savory crepes, including a pizza variety, one with barbecue pulled pork and cheese, and Mexican crepes, alongside French classics like a jambon et fromage (sliced ham with cheese and a drizzle of bechamel sauce). For those with a sweet tooth, the l’amour (cinnamon and sugar crepe drizzled with caramel) may be a good choice.
All crepes on the menu have French names and an assigned number. “I think it would be so cute to be able to come in and say, ‘I want the deja vu.’ That gives people the opportunity to speak French,” said Douglas. “And if you don’t want to, just give the number.” The mission of the cafe is simple: make people happy through delicious crepes.
Since announcing the opening of her creperie to the public, Douglas has received near daily messages and phone calls from people excited for a taste. Some have asked about catering in the future, which Douglas said may be a feature in the future. “I knew I loved crepes; I didn’t know that people were actually obsessed with crepes,” said Douglas. “They just love it.”
Cocktails, music and a sampling of crepes will be available at the ribbon cutting ceremony on April 21, and guests will be treated to free mimosas at the grand opening on May 5. Both events are open to the public. Updates for the French Creperie can be found on Instagram and Facebook.