When in Brooklyn, eat crepes. In a borough best known for breeding hipsters, notorious rappers and my favorite of the Northeastern accents, this mantra may seem subjectively out of place. But in a town that increasingly acknowledges the importance of consuming wholesome, sustainable, yet undeniably delicious food, eating crepes may just be the new way of life. Owner of New York’s first fully vegan creperie, Julia Kravets, has made sure that folks know that Little Choc Apothecary is first in class. The beautiful model and proprietress makes for our second Model Citizen by offering more than her stunning good looks- her incredible sweets, savory fare, and belly warming teas are the talk of the town. After following her Choc journey on Facebook, I was dying to check the place out. A quick L train ride brought me to Brooklyn’s Havemeyer St, where I consumed a phenomenally delicious pizza crepe whose ‘cheese’, made of nutritional yeast and cashews, tasted just like the real thing. Knowing it was vegan made it that much better. Luckily for me, Julia was perched behind her Macbook upstairs and was generous enough to sit down for an exclusive interview and shed some insight on the keys to her success.
Me- How long has Little Choc been in business?
Julia- We’ve been open for about a year and a half!
Me- The name Little Choc Apothecary feels comforting and holistic yet still cute and catchy. What is the inspiration behind the name?
Julia- Thanks! It’s a bit of a play on words; The “Choc” part is for chocolate, for the sweets/desserts we have—we’ve got some things made with chocolate, like chocolate cake, and raw, vitamin b12 fortified chocolate truffles, but no chocolate bars, which seems to surprise/confuse some new customers. Oops! Sorry for making things complicated, people—it’s also for the chalk wall we have upstairs. Every month we have different artists from the community re-design the wall, changing up the feel of the dining area for a while; I love it! “Apothecary” is for our medicinal tea blends, and the large collection of herbs we have for sale. The “Little” is purely a cuteness factor.
Me- First modeling, now a creperie and purveyor of delicious tea- what sparked the change in your career path?
Julia- While traveling, I kept myself entertained by studying nutrition, herbal healing, and thinking up fun and healthy snack recipes. I was getting tired of looking at the ingredients on healthy looking snacks, and seeing crap I certainly didn’t want to put in my body. “How hard is it to make a place where you can trust absolutely everything on the menu?” I thought, and I began to plan.
Me- Are there any similarities in owning your own creperie and working in the modeling industry?
Julia- I find that having regulars come by the shop is very similar to having a consistent e-commerce job. You got all the same banter and the jokes you do with a familiar photographer/stylist/MUA.
Me- What has been your most valuable lesson learned in owning and operating Little Choc?
Julia- Trust no one. Kidding—kind of. You have to wear many hats as a business owner, and be on top of everything. There will always be someone who’d be more than happy to benefit from things falling through the cracks.
Me- The best part?
Julia- I cannot describe the feeling I get when someone new comes in, finds out that our crepes are vegan AND gluten-free, and that our milks are homemade, or that we make everything from scratch and sweeten with maple syrup or coconut sugar only, and is just so happy about it, that they pronounce Little Choc their dream place (mine too!). Or when I’m sitting in the dining area, and customers, not knowing I’m the owner, talk about how amazing the food and environment is.
Another awesome feeling is knowing that my business is not supporting factory farms, or harming sentient beings, and the environment we all live in.
Me- What inspired your decision to make all of the fare at Little Choc vegan? Are you personally vegan?
Julia- Yep! I’m vegan, plant-based, meat hater, plant murderer—however you want to call it. I actually wasn’t vegan when I started planning Little Choc (about 5 years ago), and had to re-imagine a lot of the recipes when I discovered that animal protein is actually bad for you.
Me- One can choose from a variety of savory or sweet crepes and over 100 different types of tea. What are your favorite of each?
Julia- This is like choosing favorites between your children. I’m digging the Burrito, and the Pizza crepes at the moment. For sweet crepes, homemade Newtella, banana, apricot jam and shredded coconut combination is absolutely divine. As for tea, I just made a brand new blend called
Hawthorn Berry Punch—Hawthorn & Schisandra berries, orange and cloves—and getting high off my own supply.
Me- Do you have any advice for young people looking to star their own venture?
Failure is a virtue, and patience is key. If you want something, you have to wait for the right time, and fail. I spent 4 years failing and learning from my mistakes while planning Little Choc Apothecary. I failed at making recipes, failed at web design, failed at raising funds through Kickstarter, but I learned so much every time I didn’t succeed, and found creative ways to do it better next time. If you really love and want something, you’ll find a way to achieve it!
Be sure to check out Little Choc the next time you’re in the neighborhood- you can find them at 141 Havemeyer St, or on Instagram @little_choc, where the images are just as tantalizing as the taste.