Crepe De Licious to close on March 21

By Andrew Yoon

A popular campus restaurant will be forced to shut down on March 21, after failing to meet contractual obligations with the Illini Union.

The restaurant, Crepe De Licious, opened in the Illini Union food court in July 2010 and has become popular because of its unique menu and fresh ingredients.

Lori Holmes, manager of vendor contracts at the union, said they are terminating the contract because of business reasons, despite the restaurant’s popularity.

“I would be happy for him to stay,” she said. “He’s not doing a bad job — he just hasn’t met the standards of his contract.

“We have sent him several warnings, but if you don’t meet the obligations, you are breaking the contract.”

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Owner Rakesh Chopra started the business after he approached the Canadian company about opening a chain in Urbana, but he eventually made his own variation of the restaurant to retain creative control over the menu and ingredients. 

After a health decline in 2012, Chopra gave up management to local business owners. When he returned in the summer of 2013, he found that the restaurant was six months behind in paying rent and utilities, Chopra said.

“At first, (the Illini Union and) I agreed to pay $500 a week to catch up in what I was behind in,” Chopra said, “And then they started asking me to speed up the payments.”

Chopra said he didn’t want to raise prices on his food to keep-up in the increased payments for the student’s sake.

“It’s the student first, business second,” he said. “Higher sales don’t necessarily mean higher profitability. I have made-to-order fresh quality ingredients for an economical price for students. Quality ingredients means a higher food cost. I serve free coffee and tea to any student — even those who do not buy anything.” 

Crepe De Licious is the only restaurant in the food court that serves a Muslim menu with “Halal” food, and this is one of the reasons why Fera Mohamad, junior in LAS, toyed with the idea of starting a petition to keep the restaurant open.

“There is no hesitation buying food from here since the price is so low and the taste is very good,” she said. “The owner takes the time to remember students as well, and this encourages me to come here more.”

Chopra intends to leave campus on good terms and thanks his customers for their continual support.

“As a small business owner, I may not have the backup of the larger corporations, but I have my students, who are like my kids, backing me up. That itself may not save my store, but the support really touches me. I want to thank all the students who have patronized Crepe De Licious and wish all of them well.”

Andrew can be reached at [email protected].

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Owner Rakesh Chopra agreed with the Illini Union Board to pay $500 a week to catch up on payments. Chopra agreed with the Illini Union, not the Illini Union Board. The Daily Illini regrets this error.