Grade 11 student Ellie Petsnick wanted the opportunity to be her own boss—so she created her own business called “Ellie’s Crêpe Cart,” which has been roaming around Fort Frances all summer.
“My mom thought that I should start my own business because I didn’t want to work for anyone,” Petsnick recalled, adding her family likes to spontaneously plan trips.
“If I had a regular job, I’d have to plan and take time off,” she noted.
“So with this, I make my own hours but I still have to work a lot because it’s my job.”
Petsnick initially considered a business centered around creatively-designed cupcakes, but later opted for something that would be more unique.
“[My mom] went to Toronto and she saw somebody doing crêpes, so she thought that’s what I could do,” the teen said.
The Petsnicks searched for a crêpe cart for sale online and found one that was available in Montreal.
“My dad had to go towards Montreal to get stuff for his truck, so [my mom’s] like, ‘Oh my goodness, the stars are aligning,” Petsnick laughed.
Once Petsnick had the cart here, she began planning the initial steps for her business.
She joined the “Summer Company” program and put the funding towards groceries for her business, as well as materials to promote her business and create a display on her cart.
While Petsnick had experience creating some crêpes before, she had never tried it on a larger scale using a cart.
“I had made them a couple times in a pan but not with the griddles,” she explained.
Petsnick has set up at events around the district, such as the Emo Walleye Classic, “Fun in the Sun,” and the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
She also has made regular appearances at “Market Thursdays” in front of the Fort Frances Museum.
Using her Facebook page entitled “Ellie’s Crêpe Cart,” Petsnick often alerts people where and when she can be found on a certain day.
The process to create a crêpe begins in a kitchen, where Petsnick prepares her batter and sauces from scratch.
The crêpe batter is a regular recipe using eggs, milk, water, and flour while the sauces are prepared on a stove using fresh fruits.
Petsnick said she prepares the sauce “usually every two days or if I run out.”
When arriving at the cart, Petsnick usually places her batter and sauce in the fridge, although it has given her grief lately.
“The fridge . . . works when we aren’t using it, but then it doesn’t work when I actually need it,” she lamented, adding she has used coolers filled with ice instead.
“I pour a little bit of batter on the griddle if it’s hot enough after I put vegetable oil,” she explained.
Using a wooden crêpe spreader, she spreads the batter across the griddle and heats it to a temperature of 450 degrees F (the temperature can fluctuate at times).
“It cools off a lot and then heats up when it gets too cool,” she noted.
“I wait until it begins to turn up on the sides, flip it, and check it,” she added.
“Sometimes it bubbles a lot and other times it doesn’t.”
Petsnick admitted challenges pop up when preparing many crêpes
“If the griddle isn’t hot enough, it just sticks to it and it doesn’t come off easily,” she noted.
She also spends time maintaining the griddles to ensure they don’t crack or peel
“There’s a mixture that you get that makes [the griddle] softer,” Petsnick said, noting she has a special stone to scrape the surface of the griddle.
At the moment, Petsnick’s crêpe offerings include toppings such as brown sugar and chocolate chips, but she has plans to expand the lineup down the road.
She also plans on offering a weekly “specialty crêpe” shortly, with ingredients such apple slice and caramel, or s’mores,
“If I can get enough for a barbecue, I might do a savoury crêpe with barbecued meat on it,” she added.