Courage to close Crepe Cellar

In April 2009, at the very low point of the recession, a new restaurant opened its doors in the nearly-burgeoning neighborhood of NoDa. It had just 11 tables and included repurposed chairs, table bases, and restaurant equipment from the prior tenant, Addie’s Jamaican Cuisine. The European gastropub menu was centered around crepes but also included fish and chips, hand-cut twice-fried french fries, and a scrumptious burger. The restaurant’s name: Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub.

Jeff and I teamed up with local restaurateur Paul Manley (of Sea Level NC, The Waterman, and Ace No. 3) to help open our first spot. Crepe Cellar, now over a dozen years old, has become a mainstay in the ever-transitioning NoDa community.

When we opened the doors of Crepe Cellar, NoDa was a different place. There was no light rail (or even a promised date for a light rail). The NoDa neighborhood business corridor extended just a couple of blocks at the time – none of the stretching, arching feelings it has now. We actually felt out of the mix in the Crepe Cellar space on the other side of 35th Street, as most of the action in NoDa was happening down between Cabo and 36th Street.

Back then, it was tough getting the word out, too. With no heavy presence on social media, I used to sit at a wine barrel outside the door of Crepe Cellar on gallery crawl nights, talking to locals and collecting email addresses. Because this was going to be our primary livelihood, we didn’t have the choice to fail.

Fast forward to fall 2021, and Crepe Cellar is now surrounded by a much different climate of rising apartment complexes, busier streets, higher incomes, and a younger population. The area has been through a lot of changes, and it’s time for Crepe Cellar to change, too.

This kind of transition can be difficult for any business. We’re tied emotionally to our first restaurant, and on top of that, it’s remained a profitable business. But, as we look to the future, we’ve determined it’s time for something new.

Enter Ever Andalo. Soon, our team will be serving up Italian food and pouring Italian wine. For us as a couple, the menu and feelings here are brought forward from the past when we traveled to Italy for several months, spending six weeks in northern Italy tracing Jeff’s unique last name: Tonidandel.

Tonidandel is a very rare name in the U.S., but it traces back to the Dolomite region of northern Italy, where there are hundreds of Tonidandels. One of the villages in that region is called Andalo, and it is the town that was the genesis of the name Tonidandel (think: Antonio di Andalo, which eventually became Tonidandel).

At Ever Andalo, we’re so thrilled to bring guests dishes inspired by our experiences in Italy. While most of Crepe Cellar’s tried-and-true items will fade away, we’re bringing forward some that we’ve gotten really good at (like homemade burrata and house-made pasta). Our wine will be exclusively Italian, all selected by our Sommelier at Supperland, Michael Klinger, who happens to serve as the U.S. Chianti ambassador.

Our transition will be a bit unique, as we have 25 team members, and we want to do everything we can to keep them financially secure. We’ll do a lot of the build-out on Mondays, when Crepe Cellar is closed, so that when the time comes to totally flip to Ever Anadalo, we can make it happen as quickly as possible.

Crepe Cellar’s Executive Chef, Steve Kuney, has been with us since our very first day over a dozen years ago. He will be moving into a corporate chef position to help across our business. Therefore, we’re seeking an executive chef at Ever Andalo – a hard-working individual, experienced in Italian cooking, with a positive attitude and excited to take on opening a new restaurant.

For Jeff and I, life is about growth. It’s about taking risks, being courageous enough to revise what we’ve created, and get better at what we do. We’re excited about offering something new that inspires, uplifts, and brings even more joy to this city. Please follow along on Crepe Cellar’s Instagram to watch us bring this new project to life. We can’t wait for you to experience this special place!