Wanna know what inspires Skinny Pancake’s flavor combinations and fun menu names? Wanna know how long it takes to go from idea to your plate? Wanna know what you just gotta try next time you’re in Quechee?
Michael Cyr, Marketing Director of Skinny Pancake, gave us the inside scoop and behind the scenes look at how the magic happens.
What’s your top selling product, good, event, or service?
The Breakfast Sammy + The Noah’s Ark. Ironically, our top two sellers are not crepes, people love their traditional breakfast so we give them what they want!
You’d recommend: We just gotta try…
Crepes! Especially The Johnny Crepe with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, cheddar and caramelized onions – that’s long been a favorite for staff lunch.
What’s a special moment / story about your business you’d like to share (an accomplishment, a special customer experience or feedback, worker experience/culture, a new step in your business etc)?
It’s recent, but it’s hard not to mention our ShiftMeals program that we launched to help feed members of our community during COVID. The program has since morphed/joined up with Everyone Eats and gone statewide. It’s so representative of the magic of Vermont that our state has the only CARES Act funded program in the country paying restaurants to address food insecurity. (Shout-out to Vital Communities for running the Everyone Eats hub in the Upper Valley!)
How do you come up with the flavor combinations and fun names?
A lot of ideation and iteration. For example, one of our newest crepes, The Bbo Bbo, was worked through many times over before we landed on the current cilantro sauce. As for the name, we wanted something that was fun and spoke to the Korean-inspiration of the BBQ sauce, so we went with “Bbo Bbo” which means “give me a little kiss.” Our ShiftMeals Director, Jean, who’s of Korean descent, came up with that one and as soon as we heard it, we knew that was the one. (See featured image)
How long does it take from inspiration to the menu for a new product to be added (just a ballpark)? – help us understand the process.
For us it’s probably longer than most places as we work hard to figure out local, ethical sourcing, and then have to determine if we can obtain those ingredients affordably and at scale, and then do our best to make sure the product can be served consistently across our locations. We also have a constant give and take as we always hear that our menu is too big, so for us to make something a permanent addition, we really have to love it.
Besides selling awesome crepes, made from local ingredients when possible, what some other things that make the Skinny Pancake amazing (a new local partnership? A new event or offering, what it’s like to work there etc)?
The COVID-era aside, we try to do more than just make crepes. We travel around to all sorts of fairs, concerts and festivals putting our products in peoples hands, organized our own festivals (Big Tiny Love, Eat x Northeast), and try to do our part to support the community. There’s always something going on that seems so far away from just being a restaurant which keeps things interesting. I’m usually super involved in those events, so it’s been an odd summer not spinning crepes all over the Northeast. This winter we’re hoping to find ways to carry that spirit into our restaurants. Stay tuned!
When you’re not working round the clock, what do you like to do for fun?
I like to ride bikes, hike around Vermont, and spend time with my dog and fiance. I’ve lived in White River Junction, and now live in Chittenden County, but my fiance’s family is from the UV. Her brother holds these wonderful (socially distant of course) pizza nights in South Royalton that we’ve had a blast going to.
Is there anything you’d like to tell us about how you’re being innovative or something about your business during Covid 19 pandemic? Maybe you’ve done something you’re proud of to help everyone get through this?
ShiftMeals! But inside the restaurants, our plan is to keep being innovative and find ways to keep people both safe and fed. Innovation and resilience is really the name of the game right now.
What are your dreams for your business? Future plans in the area or at the Quechee location specifically?
We want to keep finding ways to realize our mission to improve the food system. We really love Vermont, especially because local food is part of our DNA here. But at the same time we realize if we really want to have impact, going to where there’s larger populations will help get us there – so we hope to find our way closer to opening out of state in 2021. Quechee is such an important location to us in that it’s about the right size model for how we hope to grow. We loved our Hanover location and put a lot of work into that space, but it was really big, and we had live music and table service unlike our other locations. Something about Quechee has always felt just right. Our dream for Quechee is that people of the Upper Valley feel the same way!
Thank you Skinny Pancake for continuing to find innovative ways to give back to the community. Your business model reminds us all what makes living here so wonderful.
It’s about people. It’s about connection.
And food brings us together to create wonderful memories.
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