Franchising focus: London's Crepeaffaire testing global boundaries
The growth of the UK's Crepeaffaire is proving that crepes are a global food. Founded in 2005, the chain has grown to 15 units in England and now has a presence in the Netherlands and the GCC. And it's getting ready to take on the U.S.
"The crepe is universal and universally loved — the perfect envelope for all kinds of fillings, anywhere, any time, for everyone," said Daniel Spinath, the founder and managing director, who created the business to be more than just a fast casual concept. "(It's) not just a product, but a concept. Not just a food company, but a scalable lifestyle brand."
One of the chain's hallmarks is its "crêpe theatre," which allows customers to watch as chefs bake their savory and sweet crepes from organic flour and natural ingredients, said Spinath, who will discuss his business strategies at this year's Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit, July 16-18, in London.
His philosophy is to position crepes as an indulgent, yet, healthy alternative to traditional fast food within the quick casual food segment. The menu even offers a line of gluten-free and vegan products.
But what really sets Crepeaffaire apart is its dedication to speed — it has a systematic baking process that serves customers in less than one minute — and is developing a crepe-making robot to enhance its "high-speed crepes production." It will be onsite by the end of the year and is ideal for locations where speed is of the essence and space is at a premium, including theme parks, Spinath said.
Aside from custom-built high street or mall formats, Spinath is developing modular executions to reduce cost and enhance flexibility for use in malls, store-in-store environments and at events. Non-traditional prototypes include an express format, a pre-fab mall mini kiosk and the Crêpemobile, designed for pop-ups and corporate and private events.
"Crepeaffaire caters to a wide target audience for all-day eating and snacking with a product and packaging ideal to eat in or to consume on the go," Spinath said. "It has a modern urban pitch with a distinct Continental/ French flavor. It is ideally suited to a shopping, leisure and transport destination/interchange with a varied clientele and brand representation."
The first Crepeaffaire Mini, which serves mini pancakes from a very small space, took advantage of that leisure proposition when it launched at London's KidZania, a pretend indoor city run by kids. It was so successful that Spinath said he is planning future rollouts in other areas.
Spinath is now seeking multi-site franchisees with food retail experience to help him expand the concept in Europe and in the United States. Costs range from $95,000 U.S. for a kiosk location and up to $270,000 for an inline shop depending on size and state of the site.
"We see enormous growth opportunities in several U.S. states," Spinath said. "Rather than providing a growth target, we want to work with the right partners to build and adjust to the local marketplace and scale accordingly."
Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.www