Saad Jallad is whipping up crepes at the Pentagon City Fashion Center like he used to at J Street. Or rather, like he used to for his neighbors in Greece.
Jallad, the 25-year-old owner and operator of Crepeaway, came to the United States to attend American University in 1998 and had no intentions of opening a restaurant. But after cooking for his friends, who told him his food was better than anything offered on campus, he decided to give it a go.
“My friends told me, you should really start your own place,” he said.
Jallad first contacted American University, but decided to bring his eatery to GW when his school had no room for him. In January 2004, Jallad’s idea took off when Crepeaway opened in J Street, attracting long lines of students and faculty who wanted to try the novel treats.
With names like Chris, Leila and Antonio, Saad Jallad’s crepes remind him of his family and friends. But more importantly, they help remind him of his crepes.
The names are Jallad’s trick for remembering which ingredients to put in certain crepes – thin pancakes folded-over themselves and filled with a variety of different ingredients.
“We wouldn’t be able to remember the items otherwise,” Jallad said. “The Antonio is my half-brother Antonio’s favorite: ham, cheese and tomatoes.” Jallad said he likes to have his daily reminder of Antonio, who is in Greece fulfilling his requirement to the Greek army. Jallad learned how to make crepes while living in Athens, where his family operated a crepe shop.
“We had a small store in Greece,” Jallad said. “Now we’ve taken that concept and brought it to the United States.”
Crepeaway offers both sweet crepes, filled with an assortment of fruits and sweet sauces, and savory crepes, filled with many of the same ingredients that might go into a sandwich. Despite its popularity, Crepeaway moved out when renovations started last summer for a new J Street – a project that brought several new venues to GW’s main food court.
“As soon as we saw the nice reaction at GW, we wanted to try opening a store at the mall,” he said. Crepeaway opened in Pentagon City food court in mid-May, and is already attracting attention among shoppers and passersby.
Jallad said he and his employees had “five fantastic months” at GW and would like to return someday.
“I would love to be back at GW, of course.” Jallad said, adding that he misses the energy of the students he used to serve.
“GW was always the best place to be, so we want to be as involved in GW as possible,” Jallad said. GW students receive a 50 cent discount off of any purchase at the Pentagon Crepeaway.
Sophomore Neeru Peri said she has already visited the new store at Pentagon City to get her favorite combination – chocolate and strawberries. The crepes are “still good,” she said.
Jallad is not only striving for the student clientele with a discount. He hopes to open more stores on college campuses and wants student employees to work at the stores.
“I want Crepeaway to be run by students,” Jallad said. “I want to open them at other universities and throughout the Washington area.”