Le Crêpe Café Owner, Soufiane Bouharkat Brings Passion to the Island

Le Crêpe Café

Located across from UHM Richardson Law School and 1160 Fort Street Mall

Instagram: @lecrepecafehawaii

Website: http://www.lecrepecafe.com/

Crêpes are taking over America one cafe at a time. Soufiane Bouharkat, owner of Le Crêpe Café, is on a mission to spread his passion for food across the island and the whole U.S. 

Born in Algeria, Bouharkat moved to Paris when he was 10 months old. He grew up with a mother who loved cooking and experimenting with fusion cuisine. “I was raised more eating than cooking,” Bouharkat said. He developed an appreciation for a diversity of food and spent a lot of time working in the France food industry. 

“The food industry in France is very different,” Bouharkat said. “People there, they go into the food industry in France because they love it. Not to make money.”

Bouharkat has brought this passion to America and tries to transmit his positive energy to his food and customers. “Whatever food you do, the most important thing is to love what you’re doing,” Bouharkat said. “Even though it’s a business and were here to make money, I try to find balance.” 

After falling in love with Hawaii on a 2001 vacation, Bouharkat returned to Paris and opened a small cafe called Duke’s with a friend. Unable to shake his attachment to the island, Bouharkat moved to Hawaii in 2007 and opened the first Le Crêpe Café in 2008.   

“We started with a smaller kiosk in Waikiki in the food court. From there we started to focus on the farmers’ markets, catering, festivals…and block parties, a lot of weddings, birthdays,” Bouharkat said. “It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. We got very familiar with Hawaiian markets and started to make a name.”

In 2009 Bouharkat opened a cafe in Manoa Valley and then a larger cafe downtown in 2011. Today, Le Crêpe Café no longer does farmers’ markets but Bouharkat has managed to open two cafes in Reno, Nevada and a kiosk on the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus. He is also in the process of opening a small cafe in Los Angeles at his brother’s soccer center. 

Along with his passion for cooking, Bouharkat has brought Nutella to the island. “Your guys’ peanut butter: for us it’s Nutella, so I grew up always eating Nutella,” Bouharkat said. “It’s really part of the European culture.” 

The Le Crêpe Café menu has a section dedicated to the hazelnut spread, the most popular sweet crêpe being the Romeo & Juliette, filled with Nutella, bananas and strawberries. However, his personal favorite is the more traditional Tort Crêpe, made with melted butter, sugar, and lemon juice 

Bouharkat prides himself on using local produce and fresh ingredients. The macadamia pesto and balsamic sauce are homemade, along with the batter made fresh ever morning. Despite the higher costs of using fresh local ingredients, Bouharkat feels that his values are more important. “I’m not so much about making money, I want to stay solid to how we started and help the local economy,” Bouharkat said. 

Already a success in Hawaii, Bouharkat has larger goals in mind. “If I manage to make a lot of money, I would like to also help my community in France,” Bouharkat said. “There’s a lot of discrimination problems in France, so I’d love to bring my experience and maybe motivate young people.” 

What advice does he have for aspiring young business owners in Hawaii? “I think if you’re born and raised in the U.S., you probably don’t realize how blessed you are and how many opportunities you guys have,” said Bouharkat. “There’s only two combinations if you want to be successful: it’s hard work and just to go and try. Nothing’s going to happen if you don’t try.”