Imagine if you could live your life at the speed of crepes.
How do 180 crepes per hour sound? Three crepes per minute? A fresh crepe every 20 seconds?
Jean le Gourmand is a small albeit cozy French creperie in the West Village, one block west from Washington Square Park. Part of the JLG franchise, Jea Le Gourmand, is originally from France and is the first store in the United States.
Most of their customers happen by the place, the wide windows opening up their storefront and filling the West Village sidewalk with the delectable aroma of fresh crepes. Many times, a passerby will walk by and observe their machine in action.
“Where’s the chef?” they might ask.
Now they’re hooked. They’ll walk through the double doors and grab themselves a crepe.
Starting at $2, JLG provides the West Village with the most affordable crepes in Manhattan. All the crepes look the same once they’re off the stovetop. The sweet ones might have extra whipped cream or powdered sugar on top. Otherwise, they’re minimalistic, perfectly browned, long rectangles with some stuffing on the inside.
You can’t expect Bobby Flay to be spooning batter and flipping crepes behind the counter, but these budget French pancakes are good for when you need a quick fix. They only take two to three minutes to produce, so you can get in and get out in record time.
Actually, at Jean Le Gourmand, they don’t have chefs. Instead, a T-1000 crepe machine mixes and dispenses patented batter onto one of six slowly rotating hot plates.
Even though there’s no chef on the premises, JLG is manned by a small team of about ten employees, like Djai and Asia, who keep JLG running smooth like Nutella. Daily duties include preparing the ingredients every day, plus flipping, topping and folding the crepes after the batter has been spread.
If you love crepes but can’t make it to the West Village daily this creperie also sells prepackaged, plain crepes that customers can take home and fill themselves. Made fresh daily, and you can pick them up for $8 or a pack of next day crepes for $4.
Asia and Djai have only been working with JLG for a few months. “It’s a dope experience,” says Djai. Her job allows her to network with the different people who come into the restaurant every day. “A lot of the customers are regulars. I shout their orders. It makes them feel special.” For Djai, building rapport with the customers is the focal point of JLG’s mission. She wants JLG to become a name synonymous with New York City. She wants crepes to become a regular food in the city.
She would like JLG to have some sort of suggestion box so that customers could choose a “Crepe of the month.” She wants customers to have more agency.
In the past, JLG has run special limited-time-only crepes, such as an Italian crepe (with mozzarella, basil, and pepperoni), or a chicken, bacon, and cheddar crepe (with avocado and bacon ranch). Djai expects JLG to offer more specials shortly, she also expects JLG to offer dietary alternative batter (including highly requested gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly options) as customer demands become more and more frequent.
At Jean le Gourmand, they do things the “JLG Way,” In other words, the procedures and methods at the New York location are the same as their French sister locations. The menu and the aesthetics of the stores are also the same. Bringing a snippet of French culture to American soil.
Now and then, the JLG executives come directly from France. “They want to see how their new American baby is doing,” says Djai.
The only thing missing from this American location is the long lines that are synonymous with French creperies. However, just means you won’t have to wait too long to grab one.
With 190,080 crepes (44 days) left to go until winter, the wide JLG windows are shut tight. However, they’re still pumping out crepes by the dozens. Their machine runs from the time they open until the time they close. It’s never a dull moment.
Live life one crepe at a time a bit easier, with Jean le Gourmand’s located at 301 6th Ave.