Laurent Prescelti visited the United States for the first time at age 17. He returned home to Marseille, France, with a dream in his heart – to one day return and open his own restaurant.
A quarter of a century later, that dream is coming true as Prescelti prepares to open Crepes and Croissants at 1456 Sumter St. in Columbia by May 1.
“I’m excited,” said Prescelti, now 43, who moved to the Midlands about a year ago to look for the perfect location for his new venture.
Prescelti, who spent time in Houston as a foreign exchange student all those years ago, says he picked Columbia for its “famously hot” weather and the friendliness of its people. He visited the city for three days in December 2010 on the recommendation of a friend in France who had traveled here for business.
“The weather was great … and it was so cold in France,” he said. “And the people are really friendly, welcoming.”
A few months ago, Prescelti found his location and began working to renovate the restaurant and get all of his permits lined up. If not for a water-heater issue, he might already have been open.
Prescelti enlisted the help of Columbia interior designer Sarah Roddey as a consultant.
“He had his own wonderful flair and take on things,” Roddey said.
Prescelti ended up with what Roddey called a “surprisingly contemporary” French restaurant with a “very warm European sensibility.”
Prescelti used basic materials – glass, stainless steel, wood – that come together in a soothing, inviting way, Roddey said. And he used warm grays and a cool green-blue on the walls with accent pieces such as a piece of distinctive wallpaper framed as if it was a piece of art.
When Prescelti opens the restaurant next month, he will serve something he has been making all of his life. Crepes, he said, are like very thin pancakes that can be topped with anything from chili and cheese to strawberries or eggs. The varieties are “sweet and savory,” says Prescelti, who sold his cleaning business in France to raise money for the new restaurant and then spent years working in restaurants to gain experience in the food industry.
He also will sell a variety pastries, quiches and baguettes, as well as coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
The average breakfast will cost from $3.50 to $4. And lunch, including a drink, crepe and dessert, will fall generally in the $8 to $9 range.
Prescelti already has a small following in Columbia of people who have sampled his food at events around town, such as the Urban Tour, Roddey said.
At the International Festival this year, she said, “he couldn’t make crepes fast enough.”
• If the shoes fits. Footwear discounter Off Broadway Shoes entered the Columbia market this week, opening a new store at 262 Harbison Blvd. The store has more than 30,000 pairs of women’s, men’s and children’s shoes at 25 percent to 60 percent off department store prices. The retailer has more than 2,000 stores throughout Europe and the United States.
• Unplugged. Batteries Plus opened its second store in the Columbia area this week at 10159 Two Notch Road, Suite B. The store has access to more than 30,000 kinds of batteries and more than 10,000 kinds of light bulbs. The franchise is owned by Bates Kennedy, who along with two partners also owns a Harbison-area location. Batteries Plus has more than 500 locations in 46 states and Puerto Rico.