Cottage Crêperie offers comfort food with a dash of culture
By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
It was a rainy Friday night in May, only 35 degrees. Despite the weather conditions, Lori Mitchell had all the right ingredients inside Gettysburg’s newest restaurant. Within 15 minutes of her Facebook post announcing the opening of Cottage Crêperie’s doors, the first customers filled every table.
It may sound like instant success, but it was a dream Mitchell had planned and nurtured for about 30 years.
“I experienced crepes for the first time in San Francisco at a little French cart down by the waterfront—I had a strawberry banana Nutella crepe,” Mitchell says. “That was around 30 years ago, and I have loved crepes ever since.”
The memory of that day inspired Mitchell to learn the fine art of crepe making. Similar to pancakes, but much thinner, crepes typically envelope delicious fillings that are either sweet or savory. Mitchell took crepe-making classes in New York and Lancaster and sampled crepes throughout her travels in Europe, including France, the birthplace of crepes.
“I spent years waiting for the perfect place,” said Mitchell, 61, who owned or managed several New Jersey restaurants during her career. After falling in love with Gettysburg, she bought a house here in 2004, then made Gettysburg her full-time home in 2011. If her name sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve taken one of her popular Savor Gettysburg Food Tours. She founded the entrepreneurial business nine years ago and annually averages 120 tours, guiding attendees through half a dozen Gettysburg restaurants for highlight dishes.
Still, she always dreamt of a little café of her own where she could add crepes to Gettysburg’s thriving restaurant scene. When the longtime Sunset Ice Cream Parlor recently closed at 33 Steinwehr Ave., Mitchell knew it was the perfect spot to give rise to Cottage Crêperie.
“Crepes are something that I love, that I’m truly passionate about,” she says, “and it just so happened to be an untapped market in Gettysburg, so it’s a win-win.”
Mitchell’s first stab at a menu was four pages long. Local chef and friend Fabio Carella helped her fine-tune those ideas into her best sweet and savory flavor combinations, while her daughter Erin Ernst designed Cottage Crêperie’s logo.
And Mitchell assembled a long lineup of local partners to fill her crepes with the freshest Adams County ingredients—butter and eggs from Weikert’s Egg Farm in Gettysburg; chicken, honey, and eggs from Littlestown’s Rebel Ridge Farm; goat cheese from Littlestown’s Liberty View Creamery; blueberries and strawberries from Orrtanna’s Twin Springs Fruit Farm; meats from Rettland Farm/The Farmstead Butcher in Gettysburg; herbs from Maggie’s Farm in Gettysburg; and lettuce, onions, and garlic from Chambersburg’s Molly Rock Farm.
“Representing local agriculture is near and dear to my heart,” says Mitchell, who decorated the restaurant with photographs of her farm partners. She’s known many of them for years, either as a former Adams County Farmers’ Association board member or through her position the past two years with The Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania, which rescues unused produce from area farms under the umbrella of South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP).
A Happy Business
Stepping inside Cottage Crêperie is a treat for all the senses. Strains of French café music play and delicious baking scents waft through the small shop. Part of the fun, once you’ve chosen a crepe from the menu, is watching it made right before your eyes.
First, Mitchell expertly pours batter onto a crepe maker—like a giant round griddle—then wields a wooden batter spreader. Next, she flips the thin pancake so that it’s golden brown on both sides. Delicious fillings are added such as Mitchell’s own homemade lemon curd and fresh blueberries for the Lemon Blueberry Delight Crepe. Then, she deftly folds the crepe in half and then in half again, sliding it onto a plate, sprinkling it with confectioners’ sugar or other toppings, and—voila!—your very own delectable crepe. Tasting it? Magnifique!
Accompaniments include freshly blended fruit smoothies or Gettysburg’s own Mr. G’s Ice Cream—carrying on the tradition of hand-scooped ice cream at 33 Steinwehr. Fresh-brewed coffee rotates between two locally-roasted blends—Ragged Edge Coffee Roasters and Ugly Mug Café. Cottage Crêperie offers indoor and outdoor seating for a mid-morning coffee break (opening at 10 a.m.), lunch, or dinner (with hours most days through 8 p.m.). The menu is enhanced by breakfast crepes on weekends.
So far, Cottage Crêperie’s most popular crepes include Chicken Creamy Pesto, Caprese, This Little Piggy—all on the savory side—as well as Lemon Blueberry Delight, Strawberries and Cream, and Strawberry Banana Nutella, a blending of comfort food flavors that initially inspired Mitchell’s love of crepes.
“My first experience was altogether an amazing experience that created a great memory,” Mitchell says. “When you talk to people they too can recall the first time they had a crepe—maybe in a small café in France, with coffee—they never forget. But sometimes people also ask,
‘What is a crepe?’ And then they order for the first time—and it’s so nice that I’m now able to create that first experience for them, here in Gettysburg. It’s a happy business.”
33 Steinwehr Ave., Gettysburg