The French Press creperie in Ottawa continues to impress, now to open Sundays

Small, quaint motif enhances food, quality service

Kathy and Kevin Gaudette, owners and operators of The French Press creperie and cafe in Ottawa, are again welcoming customers into their very popular small and quaint eatery.

If those who had discovered The French Press Creperie and Cafe in the row houses of downtown Ottawa and returned to find it temporarily closed, fear not.

It’s back open for business.

The small, quirky and popular creperie located on the southeast corner of Jefferson and Columbus streets has completed a reset and opened for business on Thursday, its new opening day for the week.

The business, owned and operated by Kathy and Kevin Gaudette, had been open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays since last October, but has now shifted its schedule back one day per week, to Thursdays through Sundays, to make it available to the after-church crowd.

Kathy Gaudette designed the interior and her passion for chairs is a prime example of the quaint, welcoming nature of the venue. No two of the customers chairs are the same, including a 13-foot former church pew.

From an antique wallpaper that provided the color scheme to the cabinets filled with fine china to the French newspapers displayed on a rack next to the counter, it is homey, welcoming atmosphere.

“I knew people would love it. People love good food,” Kathy said. “As a mom, it’s really gratifying to see all those plates coming back to the kitchen empty.

“The word of mouth has been amazing. We were really slammed, but after the first week everything ran really smooth. Most people come in here and think, ‘This is really nice. I have to come back with my friends.’ People like hanging out here, kinda like your grandma’s house and we’re happy to have them.”

The French Press creperie opened recently among the row houses in downtown Ottawa.

When the weather warms and summer approaches, it will also include cafe-style seating on the outside of the building, sans the china going outdoors.

Once seated, there is an equally eclectic menu to choose from: breakfast crepes like the French omelette filled with eggs and Gruyere cheese, served with a green salad; savory crepes like the Croque Madame, filled with ham and Gruyere cheese and topped with two fried eggs and Bechamel sauce; a daily variety of quiches and salads.

There also are homemade soups of the day and a French onion soup, served in delicate china gravy boats.

For those with a sweet tooth, there are fresh fruit items like the raspberry-lemon crepe with fresh raspberries, lemon curd and crème diplomat, or the baked goods, among them a French toast muffin her husband described as “a walking bread pudding.”

Then there is the coffee, regular or French press, and a wide variety of other soft drinks, including iced tea, lemonade and French and Italian sodas.

“It’s a niche place,” Kevin said. “There are plenty of good restaurants in Ottawa where you can get tradition breakfast and lunch, but she wanted to do something a little different and it’s been really, really popular. Everyone that comes in says this was exactly what this town needed.”

The Gaudettes got together by chance while they were both in the Air Force. The Chicago suburban Hegewisch-native Kathy was filling in for the commander’s secretary one week and was the first person the Worchester, Massachusetts-born Kevin met when he arrived at the base near Mountain Home, Idaho.

The two were in the service for 24 years, moving around to different stations every few years. When they were stationed at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois, Kathy went to culinary school in St. Louis, then when Kevin retired in 2016, they settled in Springfield, Ohio.

After COVID, in 2022, they moved back to Illinois to be closer to family, often meeting in Ottawa as it was midway between a daughter in Galesburg and family in Chicago.

They liked Ottawa so much, they decided to move here and, six months later, they opened their business in the building Kathy came to know through her work as an interior designer, visiting former tenant Timeless Designs, now located in Sandwich. That explains the eclectic and charming interior of the restaurant.

It was an immediate success.

“She had a definite idea of what she wanted to do, having thought about it a long time, and it’s the perfect business model,” Kevin said. “Crepes are simple and keeps the menu simple, but she can make literally anything and put it in a crepe. Today, she has chicken Florentine, last week, it was a Cuban sandwich … There are a lot of different versions and she mixed it up every other week.

“She also makes excellent soups, baked goods, she’s just a fantastic cook … Everything is made with love. It’s great to see people so comfortable, smiling, laughing. That’s what it’s all about.”