Fourteen years ago, Rachel Adams took a chance on whether Lancastrians would say “oui” to crepes. Lines that stretched out the door and sometimes down the block provided an indication that her café and creperie were an instant hit.
The restaurant was originally located on the trendy 300 block of North Queen Street. By 2013, the cafe had outgrown the location and Rachel once again took a gamble and moved two blocks away to a larger location on West Walnut Street. A second location in Manheim Township’s Richmond Square (off Fruitville Pike) was added three years ago and was expanded a year later.
What’s the secret to her success? “We spin fresh, made-to-order crepes with an American twist,” Rachel says of the thin pancakes whose names and ingredients harken to places both near (The Philly Cheese: rib-eye steak, mozzarella, mushrooms, scallions and diced red onions) and far (The Mediterranean: curry-infused crepe with organic hummus, feta, diced tomatoes, diced red onions Kalamata olives and spinach).
Rachel became a fan of crepes while attending Penn State University; she worked part-time in a State College creperie. Opening a shop of her own is a dream come true. Plus, she’s working with her significant other and co-owner, Brent Hodge.
The Walnut Street location boasts a deck with ceiling fans for outdoor dining and a dedicated parking lot. There’s seating for 70 inside with space for another 30 outside. However, to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, seating has been modified and a tent has been added to provide additional outdoor seating. “People seem to want more of an outdoor dining experience,” Rachel says. “We’ll keep the tent and have patio heaters to extend the outdoor dining season.”
The indoor décor features a black-and-white checkered floor in the main dining area. Artwork and décor items reflect the Parisian theme. The rear dining area, which is furnished with tables and hi-tops, features a gray and blue color scheme with a wallpapered accent wall. A large dining table can accommodate groups.
Rachel is most often found at the Walnut Street location, while Brent focuses on the Richmond Square location. “Each location attracts different guests. At Walnut Street, we have people come in for lunch from downtown businesses, so they have limited time. At Richmond Square, the lunch crowd is more leisurely,” she explains. Richmond Square has about four tables inside (following the 25% occupancy COVID-19 guidelines) and eight outdoor tables along the wide sidewalk.
The menu has evolved since Rachel’s first opened. There are breakfast crepes (available all day) such as steak and eggs; specialty crepes such as Thai chicken; kids crepes that include peanut butter and Nutella; dessert crepes, which include dulce de leche; and even plant-based crepes such as vegan chicken. There’s also an array of smoothies (with names like Parisian Sunset and Napoleon’s Weakness) and specialty drinks such as lattes, cappuccino, sparkling lemonades and chai. The menu is augmented with daily specials including house-made soup du jour, salads and crepes.
“Our current menu is posted on our website and social media sites every day,” Rachel says. Items are available to-go or for curbside pick-up (they must be ordered in advance; no walk-ups). There’s even an option for making crepes at home. Crepe Kits come with 12 mini-sized crepes, a can of whipped cream, a small container of vanilla ice cream, powdered sugar and a choice of four toppings. For vegans, the whipped cream is nixed and the ice cream is plant-based. Rachel’s requests that you place your kit order online 24 hours in advance of picking it up.
“The most important thing to us in the current COVID-19 climate is making sure our customers and staff know we care about them,” Rachel says. “We follow all the safety guidelines, so they can come out and enjoy dining with us and feel like there’s a bit of ‘normal’ in their life.”
Rachel’s Café & Creperie is located at 201 W. Walnut St., Lancaster, and at 608 Richmond Dr., Suite 109, Lancaster (Manheim Township). Current hours for both locations are Tuesday through Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, call 717-399-3515 or visit rachelscreperie.com, Facebook and Instagram.