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Love, Sweet Love
Brittanie Shey | Photo: Julie Soefer | July 2, 2014
One cool couple is giving Houston a taste of trendy crepe culture.
Sweet Paris—the charming creperie in Rice Village, with a sister location opening soon in CityCentre—all started with a craving about three years ago, according to owners Allison and Ivan Chavez. “It’s true, I’m a hungry monster,” says Ivan. “One night I said to Allison, ‘Hey, let’s go get crepes.’ But we weren’t happy with what we could find. I told her, ‘I can do better.’”
He had good reason to think so. He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where his grandmother taught him to make crepes at age 6. And he’d studied the dish a long time. “Ivan had visited Paris in college,” says Houston native Allison, of her husband’s semester abroad. “I swear he spent more time at the crepe cart than in class. He thought it was a serious injustice that people couldn’t get their crepe fix in Houston.”
The couple, who met at Wharton School of Business at Penn, started making calculations. They used their business acumen—Allison has a background in banking, and Ivan works in resort management—to open the first Sweet Paris near Rice two years ago. The second location opened in December in Puerto Vallarta, three weeks after the couple’s wedding, which took place there on the beach. (In lieu of a wedding cake, they served crepes with dulce de leche, one of the restaurant’s signature items.)
Ivan, who travels frequently for his day job, continues to do research on creperies around the world. “People love the spectator aspect, which is why we have an open kitchen,” he says. “We also really work on the presentation. Our chefs measure how well they’re doing by how many people are taking pictures of their plates.”
Allison adds that in addition to their extensive research and their business savvy, it took a lot of personal support and dedicated employees to be successful. “When you’re a new restaurant, it takes a lot of gritty people to leave their jobs and sign up for you,” she says.
With their third location opening this fall in CityCentre, the Chavezes already have their eyes on the next expansion. Maybe Tokyo, where crepe culture is also growing. But then again, there’s nothing wrong with sticking close to home. Says Allison, “Our motto is ‘Come to Paris; no passport needed.’”
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