CREPES & COFFEE

Top left: A Roasted Chicken Crepe with spinach and zucchini in a cream sauce. Top right: Dara Llorens displays the new 2020 Stella Epic espresso machine. Middle left: A Nutella and Banana Crepe. Bottom: Mackenzie Leopold and Dara Llorens serve from the drive-through window.

Dara Llorens dreamed of owning a coffee shop when working at a Starbucks in Austin almost 20 years ago. Her dream finally came true this month when she opened Crepes & Coffee in The Plaza on Crockett Road, but with fresh ingredients and top-rate coffees and drinks, no one is mistaking it for a Starbucks. 

As one of Palestine’s newest small businesses, Crepes & Coffee is filling a void for fresh, handmade French food and coffee at affordable prices and extended dining hours in a clean, modern setting.

“We just wanted something simple — something with fresh, homemade options,” Llorens says. 

For these reasons, Llorens calls the cafe “a dream to serve the community.” However, building, furnishing, and staffing the coffee shop required a lot more than dreaming to accomplish. 

Llorens saved money while operating 24-7 Taxi, a local transportation business, for three years. She also raised about $1,200 for the venture through a Go Fund Me page, a website for fundraising. 

Construction of the restaurant started in August 2019. At times, Llorens worked as a subcontractor to finish the building’s interior. 

When construction stalled periodically, Llorens looked for resources. She applied for and won a scholarship to the Texas Coffee School in Arlington, where she learned about optimal ingredients and techniques. She also looked for low-cost building materials, such as the restaurant’s full-length windows purchased from Habitat for Humanity in Tyler.

However, Llorens didn’t cut corners when purchasing a 2020 Stella Epic competition-level espresso machine made in France, and purchasing high-quality ingredients. 

The Palestine Piney Woods, a specialty latte with a smoked butterscotch flavor made with 1883, a French coffee syrup, is the current favorite at about $5 per cup. Teas, fruit smoothies, and frappes are also available daily. 

Clients are also enjoying the crepes, both sweet and savory. Sweet crepes include a Nutella Pecan Crepe, Lemon Butter Crepe, Strawberry Banana Crepe, and Banana Nutella Pecan. Savory crepes include the Sausage Gravy Crepe, Ham and Cheddar Crepe, and the Chicken Cream Spinach Crepe, as well as daily specials. Llorens plans to expand the menu to include small pies and soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Diners are posting five-star reviews of Crepes & Coffee on Facebook.

“I got the Pecan Nutella Crepes, and the Java Chip Frappuccino. Both were delicious,” said a review by Allie Henry. “It was very clean and the service was wonderful!” 

“It’s a great atmosphere, really nice staff and outstanding food!” said Andy Fulenchek in another five-star review. “I’ve tried the apple pie crepes (made from scratch y’all) as well as the sausage and gravy which is to die for. I’ll for sure be back for a coffee at some point.”

Llorens is also determined to employ people with disabilities and veterans because she said she wants to create opportunities for people who need them.

Mackenzie Leopold, one of the restaurant’s three employees, said Llorens allows her to work when she can due to her online class schedule. Anyone interested in applying should visit the Texas Workforce Commission, which is conducting interviews for the new cafe.

Llorens expressed gratitude for community members who helped clean cabinets and countertops, firefighters who moved in appliances and furniture, and other unselfish acts of kindness that have helped the cafe open. 

The cafe is open 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Crepes & Coffee is located at 2034 Crockett Rd Local C, near Dollar Tree. Call 903-922-1352 or visit online at crepesandcoffee.net.

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