Every time a new “not another…” business opens in Wellesley, people lament the lack of unique places. With the loss of the CrepeBerry cafe later this month, we’re losing a true original.
Owner Amelia Childs Schwartzman earlier this week announced that she would be closing the 700 sq. ft. eatery, which has resided at 352 Washington St. across from the Wellesley Hills train station since 2017 (we reviewed its “accessibly vegetarian” fare that June). Among other things, we’ll miss the fact that when we’ve reached out to Amelia over the years, she’d get back to us with straight answers, including during the tough times of the pandemic. She also helped in unexpected ways, such as pointing us to a former employee performing at a music festival we covered.
We reached out to her again upon learning of CrepeBerry’s planned closing on Oct. 28. Childs Schwartzman’s difficult decision entailed numerous factors, including that she has a much longer commute than she had when starting the business, plus a young child.
There was a chance CrepeBerry would live on under another owner. Childs Schwartzman “had a lot of interest, but understandably everyone ready to make an offer wanted me to stay on for a few months to help out with training and the transition.” Childcare issues made that unworkable, so another woman-owned business to be revealed later will take over the space.
Reflecting on the start of CrepeBerry, she says: “One story I like to tell is how I wrote out the menu for CrepeBerry at my first cafe using a pan on an induction cooker. My industrial crepe maker didn’t arrive to CrepeBerry until the day before we opened, which is when I realized I had no idea how to make crepes on the flat surface. I remember calling my dad crying that I was a failure before we even opened and ended up staying up practicing flipping crepes until 2am the night before we opened. Thankfully it worked out and I’ve sold over 55,000 crepes since then!”
CrepeBerry became a popular haunt for many over the years, and as it turns out, maybe that’s because the building is… haunted.
“When I was working on getting the store opened I’d often hear doors opening and closing in the basement and footsteps walking around very late at night when I knew I was the only person in the building. I asked the landlord, Tory DeFazio, if he knew his building was haunted and he responded by telling me I was ‘more observant than most’ and sent me some articles that had been printed about the building being haunted. I started looking into the ghost more and started talking to some local paranormal experts about it, I found the subject so interesting that I actually ended up producing and cohosting a podcast called ‘Ghost Hunting in New England’ that ran for about 3 years, received a couple of awards, and had well over 100,000 downloads by the time we ended that series.”
As is true with many small restaurants, additional opportunities to expose people to their menus can be attractive. In 2018, CrepeBerry had a summer-long outdoor pop up in Government Center.
“I didn’t have a prep kitchen in Boston so would have to bring all the supplies everyday in my little Honda Fit,” Childs Schwartzman recalls. “One unfortunate day in the middle of a heat wave 10 gallons of crepe batter toppled over and spilled everywhere in the back seat of my car while I was getting onto I-95. I (and a few car detailers) tried as best I could to get it all out but the damage was so bad it ended up totaling the car. The insurance company couldn’t believe it and confirmed that I was the only such crepe batter related total they had ever had.”
During the pandemic, as we did the rounds with business owners, Childs Schwartzman shared with us the challenges of applying for loans and to plans like the Paycheck Protection Program (and of the availability of “immunity boosting” smoothies). But Childs Schwartzman prefers to remember “the kindness and generosity shown to my staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe at one point it was just me and one Dunkin’ Donuts location opened in town. We stayed take-out only from March 2020 until May 2021, I’m not totally sure how we made it work, but it was definitely an experience I will never forget!”
CrepeBerry has been a business known for giving back to the community, including through “chaotic crepe making demos at the middle school French Fete, an annual table stop for the community walk from St. Johns to St. Pauls, and through work with the Village Table. Childs Schwartzman has taken pride in being a board member for the Rotary Club of Wellesley, which has done so much to fight food insecurity in the community as well as putting on the annual Taste of Wellesley event.
I hadn’t realized that Childs Schwartzman had operated a small reiki business for 18 months in Church Square before CrepeBerry came to be, so she’s been part of the community for a solid 10 years..
“Wellesley is truly a one-of-a-kind place that will always be in my heart and I will greatly miss as I start this next chapter in my life. A few customers have already come in and asked if my next venture will be bottling and selling the pesto we make here for our crepes. While I plan on taking the rest of 2023 to spend time with my son (Mikey) and husband (Paul), and focus on some creative endeavors, all options are on the table for 2024, so we will see!”