A Couple’s Crepe Creations Are A Big Hit

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - February 24, 2010
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Crepes No Ka ‘Oi owner Kakay Tarvyd

There are very few business that can claim to be a success right off the bat and Crepes No Ka ‘Oi is one of them.

The early success of the casual creperie open for just over a year shows little sign of slowing down. Long lines and happy customers are nothing new to owners Kakay Tarvyd and husband Chris.

“Right from the very first minute we started serving crepes at the Windward Ho’olaule’a in 2007 we’ve been busy,” says Kakay.

The couple had been looking for a business opportunity when they noticed how people stood in line at the Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings eager to buy whatever was for breakfast.

“We were driving home from the market one Saturday and talking about the breakfasts,” says Kayay, “when I said to my husband that I’d never seen anyone making crepes in Hawaii.”

Kakay grew up in the Philippines, where crepes are popular, and Chris traveled frequently to Tahiti as a child, where crepe trucks in Papeete were a favorite.

“Chris and I had a favorite place in Manila that we loved to go to,” says Kakay, and the two began to imagine their own small business making light, sweet pancakes.

They bought a crepe maker and started practicing in their condo.

“The first ones we made, we had the propane tank next to the coffee table and a fire extinguisher next to that!” says Kakay.

But those first attempts were a resounding success, and Crepes No Ka ‘Oi soon became a regular stand at weekends fairs and festivals around the island.

Customers, though, had one big complaint: “We had so many people tell us, ‘We don’t want to drive all over the island looking for you. Can’t you get your own place?’” explains Kakay.

Getting their own place - a bright, airy restaurant on Hekili Street in Kailua - solved that. The restaurant buzzes with good vibes and sweet smells.

Working as host, waitress and sometime cook, Kakay moves among tables smiling and talking to customers with the enthusiasm and energy of someone delighted - and grateful - to see their business grow.

There have even been requests for franchise opportunities and a second store, but Chris and Kakay intend to take things slowly.

“We don’t want to stretch ourselves too thin,” says Kakay. “When you franchise or open too many locations, there’s a danger of losing quality, and we don’t want that to happen.”

And with the Kailua store serving between 200 and 300 crepes a day, the young couple has their hands full, although now, at least, they have a few more crepe makers. From the original propane one that balanced on their coffee table, there are now 13 machines in steady use.

And if you’ve never tried a crepe before, you’re in for a sweet - or savory - treat.

Crepes (think ultra-skinny pancakes) are filled with anything from scrambled eggs and ham to pizza sauce or pineapple. Popeye’s Power ($7.95) is one of the best sellers. Combining fresh spinach, caramelized onions, melted Jack and Cheddar cheese with a choice of oven-roasted turkey or ham, the flavors are wrapped inside a warm, slightly sweet crepe.

The dessert crepes are irresistible. Get more than one fork if you’re ordering the Temptation in Paradise ($6.95), as the combination of homemade baked apples and brown sugar topped with whipped cream and powdered cinnamon will tempt almost everyone at your table.

New flavors are emerging all the time. The latest one to rock the creperie is a combination of strawberries, fresh raspberries and blueberries topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar.

You can catch Crepes No Ka ‘Oi at the Honolulu Festival (Hawaii Convention Center, March 13-14), and May 8 at Kapiolani Park.

Happy eating!

Crepes No Ka ‘Oi
131 Hekili St.

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