The simple addition of light-as-air, elegant and craveable crepes filled with lots of combinations to the menu at Cuppa Jones Express coffee shop has Bob Jones University students saying, “C’est fantastique!” according to Courtland Thomas, district marketing manager with Aramark’s Higher Ed Southeast Region.
“Cuppa Jones began by providing a variety of coffees, espresso beverages and several pastries,” Thomas says. “We decided to renovate innovate in the summer of 2016 and a full crepe menu was created out of necessity—the students needed additional food selections [because the café is on the far side of campus, making other dining options inconvenient for students finding themselves hungry in that area].”
So the Bob Jones culinary team quickly researched culinary trends and talked to students about what they’d like to see. A 60-day window of opportunity meant no time for hesitation. Crepes emerged as the answer, partly because of their versatility.
Soon, recipes were developed, including the B.E.L.T. with house-smoked North Carolina bacon, heirloom tomato, lettuce and a cage-free egg; a breakfast crepe with smoked salmon and chive cream cheese, Nutella gone bananas with a drizzle of chocolate and a sprinkle of powdered sugar, seasonal sweet peaches and the chicken pesto, a limited-time offer with pesto chicken, peppers and goat cheese folded into a fluffy crepe. The menu’s rotation works like this: three sweet crepes and three savory crepes at all times, with one special crepe.
The ability to customize—important to students—is always there, and with the flavors ranging so broadly from sweet to savory, it seems to be a station with something for everyone. A customer survey showed a 20-percent increase in the “quality” and “personalization” categories for the location.
And more proof is in the check average, which has gone from $1.14 when the concept was a self-serve drip coffee shop to now $4.55, “all thanks to the addition of crepes,” Thomas says.
Also, “this addition worked well because it does not require a lot of space, hoods or expensive equipment,” Thomas says, adding that the entire project came in under $5,000 for equipment, marketing materials and development costs. The relatively streamlined needs for a crepe station—two crepe grills, one induction burner, one cooler with overhead access and two drawers, all in an existing location—kept costs down. The concept reused an existing cooler and a countertop warmer from another location. The facilities crew relocated an electrical plug and a drain line. Just one employee per shift was added, and sales have doubled for this location in FY17.
“We have guests leave comments such as, ‘The crepes at BJU are better than the crepes downtown. Cheaper too!’” Thomas says. “Sweet and savory crepes please a wide range of palates.”