While wandering around Missouri in the early 1990s, Philippe Habassi took stints baking French bread at a Columbia grocery store, making pastries at a Holiday Inn and running a small crêpe shop within the Lakota coffeehouse. In Jefferson City, he and his first wife opened Chez Monet, undoubtedly mid-Missouri's first exposure to the world of crêpes. She still runs it today.
In St. Louis, Habassi teamed up with the old Caffe Paradiso coffeehouse chain in 1995, running its three crêpe shops for about a year before the business relationship was severed and Starbucks moved in with a vengeance. Habassi opened Le Petit Paris in 1998 and, soon thereafter, a small Delmar Loop crêpe shop called Chez Philippe, which lasted about nine months.
Throughout his many food ventures, Habassi has kept crêpes as his central theme. "I love them," he says. "They are very simple, light and healthy, and people like different things." Many customers come to Le Petit Paris just for the crêpes, saying they are reminded of the old Magic Pan restaurant.
But in Habassi's hands, crêpes have an entirely different allure, serving as a reminder of Paris and all things French.