Since opening three years ago as a simple (okay, maybe not that simple) but modern creperie, Jeff Kraus' Crepe Bar in Tempe has become a regular haunt for Valley food enthusiasts. What started as a concise menu of crepes and drinks has grown to include sweet and savory creations augmented by an ever-changing menu of small plates featuring local produce and whatever else strikes the chef's fancy.
Now, Kraus says he's ready to introduce "the next evolution of his cooking." But to do so, he's going to need more space.
That's why, at the end of August or in early September, Kraus plans to unveil a new, expanded Crepe Bar. He'll be taking over the strip mall space adjacent to the restaurant to grow his restaurant into a 2,000-square-foot eatery.
The design for the expanded Crepe Bar was in part inspired by the Museum of Modern Art, Kraus says, in that he wanted to separate and showcase each part of the restaurant, but still offer a contiguous space. The new design is also intended to allow diners to move around the restaurant, the chef says — which is not at all a surprising idea if you've ever seen how energetic Kraus can be.
Some of the coolest features of the new space include a separate coffee bar, underneath which there will be an herb garden. Kraus says he hopes the presence of fresh herbs will inspire his Crepe Bar baristas to add more culinary flair to the restaurant's coffee drinks. (Though already, you can turn to the Tempe restaurant for such innovative creations as a watermelon-infused cold brew served along with charred watermelon cubes and rosemary sea salt.)
Adjacent to the coffee bar will be an expanded seating area — don't get too excited, the new design only adds 10 seats to Crepe Bar's current capacity. Kraus says this was intentional; though he wants to give himself more room to play, he doesn't want to have to struggle with a higher volume restaurant. There will be a long community table (like the one currently in the restaurant) and a wall of two-seater tables that will be separated from the rest of the dining room by a garden wall.
Most exciting is Kraus' plan for an open kitchen. Not only will diners be able to see everything Kraus and his staff are doing in the back of the house, they'll also be able to take a seat at what the chef says might be the first breakfast, lunch, and brunch chef's table. The round seating option will give a handful of diners a front row view to Kraus in action.
As for the menu, the chef isn't quite ready to explain what changes we can expect. He says the well-loved crepes will definitely stay, but you can expect "more mature" cuisine — and probably more of the small plates that have become something of the chef's signature.
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The restaurant will continue to stay open for breakfast, lunch, and brunch. But Kraus says he hopes to eventually obtain a liquor license.
All we know is, we can't wait.