Barlow sisters run crêpe stand

Barlow sisters run crêpe stand

For sisters Emma (10) and Mattie Barlow (9), crêpes are more than just a favorite food. Despite the Barlows’ weekly tradition of eating crêpes together every Sunday, they never tire of eating them.

After learning how to make crêpes while living in France, Thomas Barlow, Emma and Mattie’s father, began selling them at a local farmers market while attending medical school in Missouri. Later on, when Emma was 1 year old and living in Japan, Mr. Barlow had the idea of selling crêpes together as a family. But without a farmers market in their area, they only had an opportunity to do so when they moved to San Diego two years ago.

“We’ve long had a tradition of eating crêpes every Sunday but for us to sell it together at the market has given an opportunity for the kids to learn about business.” Mr. Barlow said.

However, before they could open their stand, the Barlows had to go through a long and tedious process to register their business and complete all the regulatory requirements. Emma and Mattie had to go through online training to earn a food handlers certificate that allowed them to help with preparing food. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Barlow had to go through training for more extensive food managers’ certificates.

“It’s a huge headache in California, where you have to have food service worker training, you have to have your business registered, you have to be inspected by a health inspector; there are a million fees you have to pay and food permits you have to have,” Mr. Barlow said.

While preparing to open, the Barlows also had to decide which types of crêpes they would sell and the recipe they would use. To appeal more to an American audience, they decided to add more sugar to their original French crêpe batter and to use wheat flour instead of buckwheat, which is traditionally used in savory French crêpes.

Although the flavors of crêpes they offer change, they went through a process of trial and error to decide on the current flavors they thought people would enjoy.

“There was one day when my mom just went out, bought a ton of ingredients and we went with what we thought would be right and had everyone taste it,” Mattie said.

While most of the crêpes were created to fit American tastes, there were still some European flavors that stood out and tasted amazing.

“One that surprised me when we were tasting was the citrus marmalade,” Emma said. “It surprised me because it was such a European flavor, and until that point we’d mostly Americanized all the crêpes.”

After much experimentation and taste-testing, they settled on a menu consisting of classic flavors like strawberry and banana nutella, along with more unique ones like bananas foster.

Two months after they decided to start their business, the Barlow family opened their first stand under the name of Crêpes ‘N Crème, March 3 at the PQ Certified Farmers Market. Since then, they’ve continued to sell crêpes there every Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m..

Although the family says that business isn’t always booming and they haven’t broke even on all the costs yet, the fun experience they’ve had selling crêpes has made it worth it for them.

For Emma and Mattie, selling crêpes has given them an opportunity to learn about business and meet new people in the community.

“I never really thought about it, but not only is there making the food, but there’s so much other preparation work [that goes into a business],” Mattie said.

Even though they only recently began selling at the farmers market, they’ve already made connections with the other vendors around them.

“One of the things that most surprised me was the community in the farmers market and how friendly everyone is, even though we’re technically competing with each other,”  Emma said. “You really feel like a family. As we’re setting up, people say hi, sometimes we exchange products or give discounts to the other vendors.”

As a family, the Barlows already shared a love for crêpes, but opening a crêpe stand allowed them to meet new people and create a business together.

“We meet a lot of cool people, customers, other vendors, just a lot of interesting great people,” Mr. Barlow said.

By starting a business together to sell crêpes, the Barlows turned a family tradition into a new and enjoyable experience.