High school students are a key part of the business model of a new fast-casual restaurant that opened its doors just in time for the school year.
Zell’s Mountain Creperie, owned by James and Victoria Beatty, began serving crepes and paninis a third of a mile away from ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch on July 9. Its second location, scheduled to open in November, is located across the street from Arapahoe High School in Centennial.
Beatty is situating his eateries near schools with open campus lunch policies, he said, in order to draw a stable midday crowd of students in addition to attracting crepe lovers from the area. His wife is “an anti-fast-food person,” he said, and together they want to provide a quick, nutritious food option for teenagers.
“Most high school kids love crepes, and they love sandwiches,” said Beatty, who has two teens of his own.
At Zell’s, paninis and crepes are made-to-order with savory ingredients such as turkey breast, mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms and peppers for a hearty entree or with sweet items like fresh strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate chips for a tasty treat. The paninis come on ciabatta rolls and the crepe batter is made from scratch in-house.
The Highlands Ranch location runs a deal for students that order online. It consists of a two-topping crepe or panini with extra meat and cheese for $7.95 plus the option of a dessert crepe for $4 more.
Located in a strip of small businesses near the intersection of Wildcat Reserve Parkway and Highlands Ranch Boulevard, Zell’s has table- and counter-seating for 20 — including four seats that overlook the crepe-making stations. One wall of the 1,200-square-foot venue is adorned with giant photographs of Zell am See in Austria, the business’s namesake. Several years ago, after hiking in the Alps with friends, Beatty had a deliciously light ham-and-cheese crepe in that alpine town and inspiration struck.
Although Beatty’s background is in real estate, the Greenwood Village resident wanted to get into the restaurant industry and was looking for a unique idea that could be standardized and replicated at multiple locations. He said he’s always been a hospitable person and even hosted Thanksgiving dinner for a group of international friends back when he was in college.
“I love to cook,” he said. “I love to have parties. That’s kind of one of my favorite things to do.”
Now Beatty and his wife are sharing their hospitality for a living. Quality food, caring for guests and education are all part of the mission of Zell’s Mountain Creperie. Most of Zell’s 16 employees are working on their education, either in high school or college, Beatty said.
Because he believes education is one of the best ways to improve one’s environment, Zell’s will focus its philanthropic and marketing efforts on endeavors associated with schools and school activities.
“Our idea is to open near big high schools — get involved with the high schools,” he said. “Anywhere from doing benefit nights to helping sponsor, like, football teams or chess clubs.”
Beatty could send out flyers or pump marketing dollars into social media to promote his business. Instead, he hopes to see Zell’s Mountain Creperie partner with school groups and become a valuable piece of the communities it serves.