In 2003 I went to Scotland and discovered crêpes. Wait, Scotland? You mean France? Nope, Scotland. That doesn’t make sense. I know. And yet, here I am ten years later with what some have called “the best f------- crepe shop in the world”. (Sorry but it's true)
In 2005 I found a 10x14 space on the back of an old theater in Charlottesville, VA, renovated it, and turned it into The Flat: Takeaway Crêperie. Over the past eight years, The Flat has become a favorite for locals as well as folks from all over the country. How did this little shop become nationally known you ask? People love us. “We love The Flat” (Vanhooser, Cassandra M. "Discover Downtown." Southern Living March 2008: p.52) They talk about us. “One attribute of a great college town is food that’s tasty and cheap. The Flat qualifies on both counts.” (McGinn, Daniel "Jefferson Slept Here." The Boston Globe Magazine. September 8, 2013. www.bostonglobe.com.) Do you know anyone who went to The University of Virginia, or a band that has played at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, or someone who just came through to see the fall colors? Ask them. Chances are, we are part of their Charlottesville experience.
We serve made-to-order crêpes from the best ingredients. We source locally as often as we can and we can tailor make things to fit most any dietary restriction. We have been vegan and gluten-free friendly from day one. So from the ordinary sugar and lemon to the “Less Ordinary” pulled chicken, house-made rosemary cranberry sauce, smoked gouda, and fresh spinach and from the vegan “Tofull” stuffed with local tofu and veg from our CSA to the “My Morning Crêpe” filled with local sausage, egg, onions, peppers, gooey cheese and hot sauce, we’ve got something to get you excited.
What we’re doing…
We're taking our little show on the road. We’re getting geared up to buy ourselves a fully outfitted commercial kitchen on wheels.
Why we need your help…
We've paid the first 20% down out of personal and business savings but the tight margins we keep at The Flat (which allow us to offer great value to our customers) don't allow us a whole lot of savings. That’s why we need you. This Kickstarter campaign is all about moving forward in the same spirit we've tried to keep from day one: keeping it small, local, and grassroots. Our customers have made us what we are today and we’re hoping you’ll help us shape our future. And don't forget we're all about taking care of you guys. So, all of our rewards are redeemable at either the trailer or our Water St location. That way, we make sure you get your reward no matter what.
What we’ll do with your money ...
Pay off the rest of the trailer
Buy an additional gas powered crepe pan
Minor renovations to ensure perfect crepe making flow
Fees and Permits
Customizing the outside of the trailer so we can be unique and quaint even out on the road
Provide super cool and useful rewards to our awesome backers
What we’ll serve...
Crepes – it is what we do after all. And we're very good at it. We’ll make savory and sweet crepes and keep our options open for complimentary menu items depending on the event.
We’ll use fresh local ingredients and put together the best combinations. Check out some of our most popular menu items.
The Temptation of Adam - apple, brie - add chicken, ham, or sausage
Crêpes According to Anna - jam (Jam According to Daniel) with chevre - add chicken or ham
The Awesome - local ham (The Rock Barn), spinach, onion, garlic, cheddar, and jarlsberg
The Prince of Denmark - ham, spinach, brie, spicy honey mustard
Southside of Heaven - local sausage (The Rock Barn), spinach, onion, cheddar, feta
Greene Eggs - egg, feta, veg
My Funny Valentine - white chocolate, strawberries, cinnamon
She Got the Honey- fresh berries, lemon honey ricotta
Sweet As - apples and dulce de leche
Risks and challenges
There are a lot of challenges associated with starting a mobile food venue, but I feel we are qualified to tackle each of them.
First, there's getting your trailer outfitted and producing revenue (and food!) in time for peak sales (spring and summer festivals, in our case). The trailer we're purchasing is already fully outfitted. The only changes required would be purchasing another gas crêpe pan, a little custom exterior work to make it stand out in a crowd, and possibly replacing a sink.
Second, you have to develop a product that is economically feasible. The Flat is already a successful business and the trailer will sport a similar menu. On top of this, the current owner of the food trailer has allowed us to rent it for events so we could evaluate the earning potential of this venture. Obviously it went pretty well or we would have dropped the idea.
Third, you have to adapt the way you run a full-sized restaurant to conform to the space constraints of a trailer. However, The Flat is not a full fledged restaurant, but a takeaway cafe. The current kitchen is just about the same size as the trailer. In fact, with all the equipment this baby has, it's an upgrade. We're pretty excited about that.
Once you get all that sorted, it's just a matter of finding places to take the truck. We've been in contact with the coordinators for our favorite local music festivals, street festivals, and food festivals. We're making new connections each day with local breweries, school campuses, and special events. Ultimately, it's up to them to accept our application for vending but we're casting a wide net and proving with each event we've tackled so far that we are good folks to have around.
Glad you asked. You can only pledge once. But, don't despair. We can make this work. First, please check the rewards again, we may have added a reward level for what you want since you first pledged. We've done that with "the goods" and may do it with others if there is a demand.
If you've already pledged, you can change your pledge. If you would like more than one reward from different tiers, just add the base reward pledges together, pledge that amount, and send me a note telling me what you'd like. I'll hook you up. Same if you want more than one item at a single tier. For example. If you want to go ahead and pre-order 5 crepe and drink combos, just pledge $50 for the Free Lunch and send me a message. If you'd like the date night and drinks for a year, pledge $85 and, you guessed it, send me a message. Please note that Kickstarter doesn't allow bulk orders so we won't send any more than 10 of any reward.
We will absolutely try our best. If you have an event coming up and want a custom catering package or want to get all your Christmas gifts from The Flat, just message me and we'll figure something out.
Thanks: You get our thanks. Not in person. But we will write your name somewhere on the trailer. Or if you stop by the trailer you can sign it yourself and we will thank you in person. Because you are awesome.
Nifty Sticker or Temporary Tattoo: 3" Diameter, black and white sticker sporting The Flat lamp post logo. Or, no more room on your bumper or guitar case but still want to show off your love of The Flat? How about a temporary tattoo? All the cool kids have them (some of us even made them permanent). Also, we'll write your name somewhere on the trailer.
Free Lunch: And by free we mean you give us $10 and we give you a piece of paper to exchange for lunch. And by lunch, we mean a crêpe and a drink. We'll send you a certificate good at the trailer or at our Water St location (and any time of day). And we'll put your name on the trailer.
The In-Betweener: Too hungry for just a free lunch, but not hungry enough to down two whole meals? The in-betweener is the whole Flat experience: one savory crêpe, one sweet crêpe, and a drink. You'll also get the Sticker/Tattoo and your name on the trailer.
Date Night: Well, at least the food portion of it. You get a certificate for two meals (savory and sweet crêpes and a drink), good at any location. You're on your own for the rest of the night. You also receive the Sticker/Tattoo. And we'll put your name on the trailer.
The Goods: For locals or out-of-towners! You choose between a custom designed cotton t-shirt, canvas tote bag, or our cookbook with a compilation of our favorite crêpe recipes, specialty crêpe batters, and instructions on making crêpes in your own kitchen. You will also receive the Sticker/Tattoo. Also, we'll put your name on the trailer.
Drink For a Year: Rosemary Lemonade and Hot Spiced Cider that is. You and a friend get drinks every month for a year. Or, make your friend pay and double up so you never go thirsty just because you're out of cash. 24 hole punch card.
You also receive the Sticker/Tattoo. Oh and also, we'll put your name on the trailer.
The Better: For locals or out-of-towners! Like "The Goods" only you get to choose two of the three options (t-shirt, tote, cookbook). You will also receive the Sticker/Tattoo. Also, we'll put your name on the trailer.
Carved in Stone: Well, not really carved. More like drawn. Have you ever wanted to have your very own slate menu board from the Flat? We'll help you come up with a fabulous combination of unique flavors and you come up with the name and graphic ideas. (We still get final say though just in case you get a little crazy on us. But, we'll work with your idea) Our resident artist will make a slate just for you and your crêpe will go into the regular menu rotation at all Flat locations. You will also receive the Sticker/Tattoo, your name on the trailer, and the Free Lunch.
Dessert For a Year: How about a little something sweet? With this reward you'll get a 12 hole punch card good for any of our dessert crêpes. Or a 24 hole punch card good for any $3 dessert. Stop by each month or buy dessert for all your friends. You'll also get the Sticker/Tattoo and your name on the trailer.
Platinum Card: Add a $2 drink to any order! Show this card at any location and add a drink (or the equivalent) to your order at no extra charge. Good for a full year! You also get the Sticker/Tattoo, your name on the trailer, and the Free Lunch
VIP Pass: Ever driven down Water St and looked longingly past those long lines at The Flat wishing you had time to wait for that delicious crispy pillowy crêpe filled with fresh fillings? If only there was a way to jump the line. Well, here tis. Place your order, flash this card and we'll put the sticky note with your name on it right at the front of the line. Good at any location. You also receive the Sticker/Tattoo and the Free Lunch. And, you get your name on the trailer.
Crêpe Class: Host your own crêpe class. Crêpe master Lauren McRaven will come to your kitchen with all the ingredients and appliances necessary to teach you and 5 of your friends how to make your own crêpes. You and your guests will receive instruction, savory and sweet crêpes, and a copy of the cookbook. And, we'll put your name somewhere on the trailer.
Special Event: Planning a bridal shower or a company luncheon? We'll cater your event for up to 10 people. We'll take care of the food, you just make sure you pick the most embarrassing icebreakers. You'll also get your name on the trailer, the Sticker/Tattoo, and The Goods. Event must be within 50 miles of Charlottesville and before the end of 2015.
Crêpes for a Year: That's right. You'll get a 52 hole punch card for crêpes for a year. The card is good at the trailer or the Water St location. AND, no waiting on those crêpes, we'll put your order first. You'll also get the Sticker/Tattoo, The Goods, and your name on the trailer.
Private Event: We'll bring the trailer. You bring 74 of your closest friends. We'll provide sweet and savory crêpes. You provide a place to park. This is perfect for a company picnic! Event must be within 50 miles of Charlottesville and before the end of 2015. You will also get your name on the trailer, the Sticker/Tattoo, The Goods, AND The VIP pass.
Blowout Event: Have a wedding, graduation, or garden party coming up? This reward gets you an evening of catered crêpes. You pick the sweet and savory options from our catering menu and we'll bring the trailer to you. In addition you will also receive: Your name on the trailer (we'll even put it where everyone can see it) The cookbook, the bag, the t-shirt, the sticker, the tattoo, the VIP Pass, a personal thank you phone call from The Flat's founder Lauren McRaven (with a famous musician playing in the background, actually no promises on the musician part), and basically our undying gratitude. Event will need to be be within 100 miles of Charlottesville, VA between December 2013 and December 2015 for up to 300 people. And let's face it, if you give this amount, that stuff is negotiable.