Fares Tarabichi bleeds maroon and gold. He and his brothers, Karim and Omar, say they wouldn’t have found success with The Crepe Club’s two thriving locations without the top-notch education they received at ASU.
“I really love Arizona and ASU,” says Fares, who carried a double major in political science and business administration. “I’m an extremely proud Sun Devil.”
Each of the three brothers moved from Syria to Tempe to attend ASU, with Fares attending last. Two years ago, they started a small food cart on campus serving up their longtime specialty: crepes.
The business has since grown. They opened their first brick-and-mortar space four months ago in the Biltmore Fashion Park, near Williams Sonoma, in Phoenix.
“I was running the operations of the cart,” he says. “One of my brothers works for Weebly [a web-hosting service], so he does all the social media. My other brother works for Pepsi, but he’s into continuous improvement, making sure everything is getting done in the most efficient way possible,” he says.
“I’m a strategy consultant. I look at the long-term. We collaborated on this, and it’s going very, very well.”
Fares, who left his job in Dubai at PricewaterhouseCoopers to help with family businesses, runs the restaurant full time.
His brothers still have their jobs, he says.
“I took a huge pay cut, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a lot of fun. Both locations—the one on the ASU campus and here—give us a wide variety in our customer base. We’re constantly tweaking our menu to satisfy everyone. It’s been a great journey.”
THE AMERICAN DREAM
Fares attended a French school; English is his third language behind French and Arabic. He didn’t learn it academically.
“What really taught me English was the Cartoon Network—honest,” he says with a wide grin. “‘Dexter’s Lab’ and all those shows were learning tools for me.
“The show, ‘Friends,’ was important too. It’s by far one of the things I associated most with America. I absolutely loved that show. Other than the Cartoon Network, it most helped me improve my. I had to learn English really well to go to ASU.”
Fares moved here 11 years ago, at age 17.
“There was a lot of oppression there,” Fares says of his home in Syria. “I certainly felt it. My parents wanted us to leave and go to the U.S. I was very outspoken, which isn’t ideal when living in an autocratic regime.
“I was one of the lucky ones who got to pursue an education, which gave me the tools I needed to build my dreams. I’m looking forward to being successful, so I can give back to the country.”
He will do so through education, he says. He believes it’s “the key to every problem in the world.”
“I don’t think that weapons solve anything,” he says. “I think they just add to the problem. By teaching people how to love and teaching knowledge, people can have a lot fewer problems than they have now.”
The Tarabichis’ parents left Syria a couple years ago, but their grandmother remains. Fares says she refuses to leave the house where she was born.
“She’s very stubborn. I think I get a lot of that from her,” he says. “She’s been living there for 85 years, and she’s not willing to let go.”
Like his brothers, he feels Arizona is his home.
“I left for a short time after graduation,” says Fares, who moved to Paris after graduation to work for a nonprofit. “I’d come back a couple times a year, but I missed it too much.
“I remember when I first moved here, it was extremely different. Coming from Syria to the U.S., and then from Paris to the U.S., it was very different. I’ve traveled many places, but I never really lived anywhere else.”
The Tarabichi brothers often would traveled to Paris to eat at a specific restaurant, which led to their love of crepes.
“My father opened a bakery on Mill Avenue and Seventh Street, Delice Bistro, and he needed help. I quit my consulting job in Dubai and came to help him.
“They were serving crepes and they were delicious. A lot of students liked them. So I met with Aramark and ASU. They loved the crepe cart idea, and the rest is history.”
On a recent weekend, The Crepe Club’s customers spilled out onto The Biltmore’s lawn. Fares says this reflects the popularity of the restaurant.
“We’re very successful—especially on the weekends. We don’t have an open seat in the house.”
Fares believes that the variety of crepes offered is responsible for the eatery’s success.
“It’s a good way to mix sweet and savory,” he says. “It’s very fast, too, but it’s far from fast food. Instead, it’s great food that comes out to you fast. That was one of the pitches we gave to ASU. ‘Your food comes out within 3 minutes, and it will come out amazing.’ ”
The three men wanted to emulate American classics while maintaining a French influence.
“The S’mores crepe is one of my favorite things,” he says about the gooey treat. “The croissant French toast is amazing, too. Instead of using bread, we use croissants. It gives it that little extra flavor.”
Looking forward, Fares would like to continue their relationships with ASU’s food provider, Aramark, and Macerich, the Biltmore’s management company.
“We hope to grow with them to campuses and malls across the country. We’d like to add about 10 locations in the next five years,” Fares says.
Biltmore Fashion Park
2502 E. Camelback Road, Suite 130
550 E. Tyler Mall
Near Wexler Hall