I've never actually sat down to ponder this pressing question: Where in Kansas City would I put a late-night creperie? The Crossroads? Westport? The Power & Light District? How about, say, 38th Street and Broadway?
It's not an unlikely location for after-hours dining: The venerable Chubby's is a block away at 3756 Broadway, and there's a 24-hour McDonald's in between. But if you didn't already know that Dirk Knoedler and Craig Klein were selling sweet and savory crepes out of a tiny kitchen inside a loud and none-too-glamorous nightclub called Gusto, you would probably never make the connection. Broadway Crepes, tucked inside Gusto Lounge at 3810 Broadway, may possibly be the most unusual marriage of location and food in Kansas City history.
But it makes a lot of sense once you talk to Knoedler and Klein, who first met in New York City's East Village: "You can find something great to eat at any hour of the day or night there," Klein says. "It's not so easy in midtown Kansas City. One night, Dirk and I were talking and decided what this city needed and didn't have was a creperie that served late."
Really late. Broadway Crepes opens for business each night at 10 p.m. and serves freshly made crepes until 3 a.m. and sometimes a little later.
The venue at 3810 Broadway — formerly the Lava Room and, long before that, BJ's Lounge — is, on the first floor anyway, very unassuming. There was a disc jockey up front on the night I stopped in and, to the right of the Broadway Crepes takeout window, two young women in a hypnotic state, madly texting their friends.
Behind the window, Klein and Knoedler were prepping for the night: Knoedler was grating cheese, and Klein had the griddle ready for some hot crepe action. Since Broadway Crepes opened two months ago, most of the dining business has come from patrons of the Gusto Lounge, although the carryout trade is picking up.
Gusto Lounge already had a restaurant license, Klein says, but the kitchen had been sitting dormant: "They were using it as a closet," he says. The business partners fixed the space up — the kitchen is spotlessly clean — and created a simple menu of sweet and savory crepes. Not fancy, but the kind of crepes one would buy as street food in Paris or Brussels. There are five hot, savory crepes: a Caprese with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes; a Croque Monsieur; a Croque Madame; a three-cheese crepe; and a meaty creation with steak, caramelized onion and grated Gruyere.
The five sweet crepes include a Nutella and fruit version, a peaches-and-cream creation and the classic crepe au sucre — a warm crepe simply sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.
"We wanted to offer a kind of late-night food," Knoedler says, "that was a step above a drive-through cheeseburger."
The prices range from $4.50 to $5.75. Broadway Crepes accepts cash only.