GTPulse: Eat Crepes and Drink Cocktail Inspired Coffee Drinks at this Traverse City General Store
Cozy meets chic at Millie & Pepper Creperie, a downtown Traverse City boutique that sells stylish general store items and gifts. The shop is filled with beautiful notebooks, cards, clothing and yes, crepes of all kinds. To add to the crepe eating experience, owner Julie Hearne has partnered with owner of Northern Maiden Coffee, Shannon Sidey for a fun, French inspired experience.
Crepes, a thin pancake, can be made to be savory or sweet. Julie has both variations on her menu.
“The savory crepes aren’t like your typical crepe. They’re crispier than the normal crepe. Like a sandwich crispy. It’s kind of an American version.”
The savory crepes range offer a few variations ranging from mild (Ham & Cheese) to more the more wild (Cuban) to suit different tastes. They’re also made with buckwheat, which makes them gluten free. The sweet crepes, however, are the more traditional airy, spongy, sweet crepe.
“It started out as a modern general store, but always with the idea of eventually bringing in food to the space. We ended up playing around with having a crepe maker at home, just to get an idea of if it was possible. You can take it, walk around, eat. It just seemed like such a natural fit.”
The partnership between Julie and Shannon is a natural fit as well. Northern Maiden Coffee joined Millie & Pepper this month and owner Shannon is thrilled to have a place to sell her high quality coffee creations.
“I’ve been in town for about three years. I brought an espresso machine back with me when I moved from California. I traded my car for that machine,” Shannon said.
Shannon fell in love with coffee when she found herself becoming more interested in the quality of coffee she was drinking.
“I love espresso. I was going to Napa specifically to get espresso and I finally was just like, `Can I have a job here?’ That was in 2008.”
Shannon ended up running five coffee bars while living in San Francisco, and was passionate about quality coffee and espresso. When she moved to Traverse City she knew she was going to open up shop somewhere, so when she and Julie met it was a match.
“It’s a perfect match. It’s nice to sit down with a yummy latte and a crepe. You get the whole French feel of it,” Julie said.
Northern Maiden Coffee provides not only delicious coffee and added ambiance, they also provide unique coffee drinks. Shannon makes coffee cocktails like espresso and tonic or an espresso old fashioned.
“I love playing around with that stuff. Bartending and barista-ing have a lot of similarities between the two so it’s fun to just play around. Our old fashioned has bitter milk in it, that would go well with a savory crepe. But, you also can’t beat a latte and a sweet crepe,” Shannon said.
She also makes something called Toddy Pudding. A cold brew based pudding that Shannon promised would give me a coffee buzz just the same as a hot cup of joe would. The cold, chocolatey, coffee infused confection is decorated with delicate pieces of pizzelle and is definitely on brand with the chic and beautiful aesthetic of Millie & Pepper.
Julie loves crepes and crepe-making, but the general store gets equal love and care. The boutique is always changing to suit her customers needs. She has played with having different clothing to items ratio, and she curates the shop’s items through attending gift shows as well as selling locally made items.
“A lot of things I just love. A lot of things move around, like our top seller right now is tea towels so I have a bunch of tea towels. It’s a mix. There’s a lot of local, a lot of higher end things that I love. Our wine glasses are probably the best you can get in the country, they’re from Austria. We also have the sweet things like a fishing pole for s’mores. Just fun things for everyone.”
The shop has been warmly supported by the Traverse City business community, and especially by the neighboring businesses on Union Street. It can be a challenge for businesses not on East Front Street to draw tourists.
“Our street, this little block, we banded together and put a sign at the end of the street to get people down from Front Street. When I put tables outside to eat during the summer, everyone on this block signed a petition so I could have more seating out front,” Julie said.
Julie and Shannon want to make Millie & Pepper an experience for their guests, and really, how many places can you eat a crepe and drink a coffee cocktail while in a boutique? The next time you need a unique gift, Instagram pic or place to grab breakfast or lunch, stop by Millie & Pepper.