Wait in line for one of the famed Gotta B Crepes at the Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market, and you’ll see fresh, cut-up strawberries getting covered in a bed of Nutella, smell homemade mushroom sauce just oozing out of nearby crepes and hear the sizzle of fresh batter hitting the pan. The people working the stand stay busy from morning to closing, but their energy remains high, joy-filled and contagious.

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Chloe Pestano Que

After making the trip downtown to get a taste for myself, Northwestern’s latest obsession Gotta B Crepes is clearly more than just amazing crepes — it’s a passionate family endeavor focused on bringing people together.

Humble Beginnings

Glenview native Ryan Jones and his wife Kathia Jones first met while making crepes at Magic Pans, a stand at the local mall food court, in 2005. Fresh out of college, the pair worked there for three years before Ryan left to work at Walker Brothers while Kathia continued to work there until it shut down in 2010.

“She was actually in her final few days of the job when a Colombian customer approached her and was really impressed at how well Kathia knew everything,” Ryan said. “The customer even thought it was Kathia’s business.”

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When the customer realized it wasn’t Kathia’s, she said: “If you ever open a business, it’s gotta be crepes.

And Kathia listened. Although Kathia was initially hesitant, Ryan encouraged her to do it. In that same year, the couple began making crepes on their front porch. And 13 years later, it is now a full-fledged traveling business, appearing in hundreds of farmer’s markets around Illinois and listed as one of Yelp’s top 100 places to eat in the U.S. in 2020.

Making connections through crepes

Ryan said his favorite part about making crepes is the connections he’s been able to build, from getting to know his customers and creating tight bonds with his employees to simply spending more time with family.

“Initially, when Kathia was working at [Magic Pan], and I had just changed my job, we had different work schedules,” he said. “We didn’t get to see each other frequently.”

But now as business partners, the two are able to spend more time together — even if it’s time spent working, they cherish this time. Ryan said he’s also taking advantage of the business to spend more time with his son. His son frequently helps out with the stand, working early mornings and serving up fresh crepes alongside his dad. Ryan hopes his son can develop a strong work ethic through the family business.

Gotta B employees become “part of the family," Ryan said.

“He was in high school and emailed us about how much he loved our crepes,” Ryan said about one of their past employees. “He was with us for four years.”

The customers are perhaps what excites Ryan the most. Every customer is different, and he said he can create something special for each one who comes by.

Chef’s Recommendation

When it comes to what to order from Gotta B Crepes, there’s really no wrong choice. Crepes come in many varieties, and Ryan says people should go with their gut and order whatever they want.

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However, if a customer does need a starting place, Ryan recommends the chicken caprese crepe, which is made with a homemade pasta and pizza sauce. For those wanting something sweet, the seasonal crumbles are the perfect way to go. Gotta B chooses to use the freshest, most seasonal ingredients, so the seasonal crumble could be blueberry, raspberry, lemon or something else entirely.

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Gotta B’s decadent sauces are also made in-house by Kathia herself. Choose from salsa verde, raspberry, chocolate, pesto, mushroom sauce or buffalo sauce to finish off your crepe. Whatever you choose, it will be perfect. Ryan stands by letting the customer customize their crepe as they like.

“The fun thing is we just want to be able to offer everyone their favorite,” he said.

As of now, Ryan and Kathia do not have plans to reopen their restaurant. Instead, they plan to continue serving up fresh, customizable crepes at local farmers’ markets in the greater Chicago area. With the winter season upon us, many markets are closed, but be sure to keep an eye out for Gotta B Crepes once it’s warm enough for markets to open up again.

Some photos courtesy of Gotta B Crepes' Instagram.