Monday, July 13, 2009

Better off alone....

Roaming the streets of Montmartre my friends and I were on the hunt for a good crêperie. Having lived in Bretagne (the birth place the crêpe) and being married to a Breton I have two simple rules that must be respected when selecting a crêperie. 1. No pizza crêpes. I am not saying that the menu must be limited to only the traditional complète (eggs, ham and gruyère cheese) but when you start to bring in mozzarella and the tomato sauce I start to cringe at the outlandish lack of respect for tradition. 2. They must use two different batters, one using blé noir ou buckwheat flour for the galettes or savory crêpes and one using white wheat flour for the sweet crêpes. It's not asking much...really...but you would be surprised at what they try to pass off as a crêpe in this city.

We scanned the menu in the window which passed muster. Seeing several open tables we enter and request a table for six. The gentleman's reply was something like this, "Baahh...sit down if you want but it will be at least 20 minutes before I can even come over to set the table". We take a look around, see that half of the 10 or so tables are full, assume he is bluffing, and sit down. Sure enough 20 minutes roll by and during this time we see him dash from the kitchen to the dining room, back to the kitchen, dart downstairs to the cellar, back to the front door to frighten away other potential diners with long wait times, into the kitchen and finally to our table.

My friend Maxime inquires about the lack of staff. The man laughs and says "Il vaut mieux être seul que mal accompagné" which means it is better to be alone than in poor company. I have heard this expression before in the context of divorce proceedings but never in a business setting. The man, pictured here, runs this 10 table crêperie single handed. He tells us that he had a larger place with a staff and it was a nightmare, someone was always sick or late or pregnant. So a few years ago he jumped ship and bought this little place in which he is the host, cook, waiter, dishwasher and owner.

While clearly he could do more business if he so desired (he successfully managed to scare away the group that came in behind us even though there were enough tables and chairs to seat them) but when we point this out to him, he says, "Why? I earn enough to pay the rent, I can close when I want, if I were to serve more people it would only cause me problems". More money more problems, I hear you guy.

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