Maxime Ambeza and Raysha Carrasco have — for two years — devoted time and money to their Monsieur Crêpes food truck, sometimes working 80-plus hours a week to make it profitable.
“And every day, at least one customer asks, ‘Where are you located?’” said Ambeza.
They now have an answer.
À la Maison with Monsieur Crêpes, or “at home” with Monsieur Crêpes, opened last month at 1617 S. 900 East in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City.
The building — once a vintage clothing shop — offers a taste of Paris with a menu of sweet- and savory-filled crêpes, sandwiches and salads as well as coffee, tea and other nonalcoholic beverages. Prices range from $7.50 to $11.25.
The thin, airy crêpes are made using the recipe of Ambeza’s grandmother, said the 28-year-old, who grew up in northern France and has a master’s degree in French and a culinary degree, to boot.
Carrasco, 25, and a native of Puerto Rico, has a degree in tourism, foreign language and public relations with a background in catering. The two met in Orlando, Fla., married and, after a friend said Utah was a good place to get a teaching job and raise a family, they headed West.
Once they arrived in Salt Lake City, though, they learned it would take Ambeza at least a year to pass the required tests for teacher certification.
That’s when the couple — who now have a 7-month-old child — went to plan B. They joined Salt Lake City’s exploding food truck scene, where no one was offering authentic French crêpes.
While it may have been a loss for schoolchildren, the food business has been a gain for hungry eaters like Katie Strick, a former Salt Lake resident who now lives in Shiprock, N.M. She dined at the Monsieur Crêpes restaurant on a recent morning with Eric Barth, also of Shiprock, and Lauren Gray.
“They’re as good as I remember,” she said, recalling her trip to France a few years back.
Gray lives in the neighborhood and also was impressed with her L’Originale crêpe filled with eggs, ham and cheese. She plans to return soon. “I need to bring my husband,” she said.
Among the most popular crêpes are the savory Versailles, with melted brie and prosciutto, and the sweet Champs-Élysées with fresh bananas, strawberries, Nutella and thick, whipped French-style cream.
A Parisienne interior matches the menu. The walls are painted creamy yellow with scenes of France and “bon appétit” written in script above the pick-up window; French café music plays while customers wait for the orders and the handful of small tables are covered in newspapers Ambeza’s mother sent from — where else? — France.
There is seating for about 20 inside, including a bar at the front window that looks onto 900 East and a Fresh Market grocery store across the street. Ambeza is working on a patio that will seat another two dozen when the weather warms.
The couple have partnered with another chef, so they can continue to operate the restaurant and the food truck.
Most surprising to Ambeza was how many customers converse in French. Several have gone on Mormon missions and say they want to practice their language skills.
“Sometimes they don’t even buy anything,” Ambeza said, “they just want to talk.”
French crêpes — and conversation— are served Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 to 2 p.m. Visit www.monsieurcrepesut.com for more information.