Algerian duo bring crepes, and a taste of their country, to downtown Lawrence

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Taki Guettafi and Mohamed Beziane are co-owner of T&M Creperie in downtown Lawrence. The shop serves a variety of crepes, and will put Nutella on any of them.

In some ways, Algeria sounds better than Disneyland because I’m not sure the Magic Kingdom can even provide this delight.

“In Algeria, just ask for a crepe and you will find one waiting for you,” said Mohamed Beziane, an Algerian native who is now co-owner of Lawrence’s new T&M Creperie at 7 E. Eighth St. in downtown.

Yes, crepes, those creations that look like a pancake has met a panini press. (No, that is not the recipe.) And, of course, crepes create great delight because just try keeping Nutella — the delectable European chocolate hazelnut spread — away from a crepe.

It is definitely a challenge at T&M, where a stack of Nutella jars sits just behind the counter, always in easy reach of the crepe chef. The menu includes everything from something simple like a crepe slathered in Nutella to the fancy-sounding Ala Parisienne, which is a crepe with Nutella and bananas.

But custom stuffed crepes are some of the more popular items at the shop, which has been open for about a week, Beziane said. The shop has a fruit selection that includes strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and various jams, plus a pantry that includes peanut butter and honey too. Importantly, though, there is a candy case, and while it has some American offerings like Twix and Snickers, its prime items are European. That includes the Italian Ferrero Rocher chocolate, the Italian coconut treat Raffaello, and Kinder Bueno chocolate bars. Customers can have any of those candies crushed and sprinkled or stuffed inside their crepes.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Crepes, tiramisu and Nespresso coffee are all on the menu at T&H Creperie at 7 E. Eighth Street in downtown Lawrence.

Beziane and his business partner, Taki Guettafi, had plenty of opportunity to sample all the combinations growing up in Algeria. Crepes are a French creation, but the North African country of Algeria once was a French colony. Algeria has had independence since the early 1960s, but the crepes stuck around.

“On almost every corner, you find a crepe store,” Beziane said.

Beziane had a job making other types of French pastries, which also were popular. Guettafi, though, made crepes for a living in Algeria. The duo, however, did not know each other in Algeria. Instead, they met in America, where both had come for a college education. Both continue to take classes but have saved up money to open the crepe shop, and perhaps pass along a slice (a very flat slice) of culture in the process.

“We saw Lawrence has really good people who are interested in other cultures and we know the college has many international students, so we thought, why not?” Beziane said of the decision to open the shop.

So, how do you get those crepes so flat? (I have discovered that neither a rolling pin nor a Goodyear tire is involved.) Beziane and Guettafi didn’t exactly provide me the secret. But they said the right ingredients, and precisely the right amount of ingredients, is critical. Too much flour and it is too thick. Too little and it is too thin and crunchy.

As for how crepes are eaten in Algeria, Beziane said they often are a sweet treat. The idea of crepes being used in savory dishes is something the pair became more knowledgeable about in America. Beziane said the shop plans to add savory crepe dishes to the menu next week. For the moment, they primarily will be breakfast-oriented, including a spicy sausage and spinach crepe, a vegetarian crepe, and an egg and cheese crepe.

The shop already has one classic breakfast item on the menu — Belgian waffles. They’re served both in a traditional style, but also on a stick — like a carnival food — covered with any number of toppings. Coffee also is on the menu, and it also has a European flavor. The coffee menu features Nespresso, which is a popular brand in Italy and other parts of Europe, Beziane said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A waffle stick is shown at T&M Creperie in downtown Lawrence on Oct. 1, 2020

Currently the shop is open from noon to 9 p.m., but when the menu is soon expanded to include other breakfast items, plans call for hours to change to 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.. If you are having a hard time picturing its location, the shop basically is next door to the Eighth Street entrance for Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop. It also is next door to the coffee shop/bar Henry’s. Yes, I do hope to have an article on that shop soon, as the owners of the former Levee Cafe in North Lawrence have taken over operations at Henry’s, which currently is closed and undergoing renovations, it appears. I’ve got a call into the new owners on that, and will report back when I hear more.


COMMENTS

Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.