St Andrews has grown accustomed to the unusual. The sight of dirndl-clad students wandering the streets or crayfish remnants scattered outside the Byre: both are expected, even welcome, sights for the student population. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that we tend to embrace ventures that differentiate themselves from the same old St Andrean shindigs.
Ludo & Lolo’s Crêperie is one such venture. Established this year by Laurence-Maximilian Cardwell and Ludovic Meaby, the crêperie is a peculiarity of prodigious proportions. On select nights, the stench of sweat that permeates the Vic has been overpowered by the sweet aroma of freshly made crepes, originating from a small station outside of the main bar. Clad in bathrobes and chef’s hats, Laurence and Ludo whisk and mix and flip their crepes to perfection, proffering their succulent creations to the masses for a mere £3 each. Although bizarre at first, one need only bite into a tender, juicy crepe to realise that the question is not why – but why not?
“The bouncers were convinced it was some kind of ruse to get into the Vic for free,” admits Laurence. “But we wanted to do something that we enjoyed doing, that was social. We’re there, bombastically dressed, dancing to the music. Instead of doing some sterile job, working awful hours and earning nasty wages, we get to define our own work hours and see all of our friends, usually laughing at us, and share our delicious crepes with people.”
The crepes easily exceed the quality of any found in St Andrews (or out of St Andrews, for that matter). The business promises that you will be reduced to “a drooling, dribbling pile of limbs as the smell of molten butter wafts across the dancefloor.” It could be the inebriated state of many guests, but they have certainly made good on their promise. The great crêperie investment is paying off in spades, as shown by the throngs of pancake enthusiasts who queue at their table each night.
“I wanted to do this in my first year,” says Ludo, himself of French origins. “I sent [the manager] a business plan and explained why this would be useful for the Vic. And he was very keen! Now I am doing it full blown, on a weekly basis, with potential for growth and a loyal business partner.”
Flatmates and now partners in crepe-related crime, Laurence and Ludo are fully dedicated to their business. This fact is evident enough in their costumes: “We needed a uniform,” Laurence elaborates. “So we thought, we both have bathrobes. Simple enough. Then we thought that we needed something classy, so we threw in the cravat. And then the chef’s hat, professionally made. At some point, we think we might start changing our costumes every week.”
“We could dress in theme,” adds Ludo. “We want to be part of the spirit of an event. We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we are professional.”
Combined with their ostentatious outfits, the small crêperie stands out amongst a crowd – and what a crowd they attract. First out of curiosity, then out of hunger, students flock to the robe-clad duo, eagerly forking over change for the chance at sampling something sweet. After less than a month in action, the positive reviews have come rolling in: Ashton Squires exclusively tells The Saint, “It’s really refreshing to see a student enterprise that combines wacky personalities with mouth-watering crepes – the only crepes you can get late at night!”
The late night aspect of the crêperie truly is its defining characteristic. Dervish and Empire maintain their stronghold on the 2 am market solely due to their lack of competition. The doors to Tesco have long since closed, and no restaurant in town would open its kitchen to hordes of drunken students. The ravenous refugees of the night are reduced to cheesy chips and grotesque pizza, their intoxication obscuring the shame of their calorie-infested supper. Crepes, while not “healthy,” are certainly healthier than whatever ingredients a Dervish chicken nugget consists of.
A prominent member of the local community, Julian Valladares states: “It’s more than just a crepe; it’s a lifestyle. We don’t need to subscribe to this garlic cheesy chip monopoly anymore.” The crêperie is providing students with another option, a cost effective (and aftertaste-free) post-midnight meal. Its current location in the Vic further endears it to late night revellers, who need merely exit the dancefloor to purchase a delectable snack. The convenience is utterly peerless, a true triumph of capitalism and deliciousness.
Ludo and Laurence’s crepes stand a further step above the rest in terms of authenticity. “My mother is French,” says Ludo. “Pancake parties are held quite often in France – you can have a whole meal in pancakes.” Using his inherent knowledge of the crepe, Ludo has orchestrated the order of Farine de Blé Noir, or “buckwheat flour,” from Normandy to ensure crepes of the highest quality.
Laurence, meanwhile, has begun planning a luxury line of crepes, featuring smoked salmon and crème fraîche, to support what he feels is the oft-overlooked savoury crepe. “Very few people in Britain understand the concept [of savoury crepes],” he explains. “It’s a very common thing in France. We’d also like to introduce perhaps more niche crepes for special events – something attuned to the St Andrews spirit.”
The flexibility of the enterprise lends itself to the ever-changing St Andrews events scene. Using a custom-made suitcase, Laurence and Ludo may transport their crepe machine anywhere at the drop of a hat. The Vic, the Union, and Kinkell Byre all are within the sights of Ludo & Lolo’s Crêperie. “There’s creative potentiality,” says Ludo, “which is boundless. We are currently getting another crepe machine so that we may serve more people even quicker.”
Laurence continues, “We want it to be fun. We don’t want it to be corporate. It’s so wacky and tasty; really it’s an extension of ourselves. Many people at other places have sort of lost touch, you know? They see you as a number. Our customers are either friends of ours or people who will soon be friends, as it’s a great way to meet new people.”
The crepes certainly are a conversation piece. Identifiable by the crêperie’s signature dark red napkins, The Vic has been mobbed with crepe-carrying dancers, happily refuelling in between remixes. The crepes contribute, in this regard, to a safer atmosphere within the club itself: Guests can now line their stomachs even as they drink, no longer obtaining their temerity exclusively through tequila. It is truly a masterstroke on the part of the Vic, as the venue has now outclassed the Rule and Ma Bells in customer satisfaction: Many students have confessed to entering the club simply because they had been informed of the presence of crepes.
“You’re eating an experience,” says Laurence, and he speaks the truth. Standing on the dance floor with a vodka lemonade in one hand and a banana-Nutella crepe in the other, an individual cannot help but feel blessed, as though the night truly cannot improve any further. Bake sales are a rare treat, even when the lemon squares and brownies go cold after hours spent chilling in the night. The crepes are warm, and they are delicious, and I will whole-heartedly endorse them!