Wholly Crepe offers affordable meals in community-oriented space
Students say creperie near South Campus is socially conscious, affordable
Kamalie Liyanage lived off eating crepes for six months in New York City, inspiring her to open a creperie in Buffalo.
Liyanage, a UB alum, is the owner of Wholly Crepe, a new restaurant near South Campus that opened in July 2017. Wholly Crepe touts “wholesome” ingredients like cage-free eggs and organic chicken. Vegan crepes are made with almond flour, coconut oil and almond milk upon request. While there is not currently a gluten-free crepe option, one is “in the works,” according to Liyanage.
“I lived on crepes because it’s quick and easy, fast and cheap,” she said. “So that’s how I started thinking that might be a good idea here because you don’t really see that kind of thing in Buffalo. In New York City, there are little hole-in-the-wall kind of spots where you just go to a window and get your crepe.”
After moving back to Buffalo and establishing herself as an independent attorney, Liyanage set out to open a similar take-out crepe restaurant, but Wholly Crepe turned into more of a family-oriented place where people wanted to sit and eat, according to Liyanage.
“So now we’re like a cross between a cafe and a restaurant,” said Liyanage, who manages the restaurant in addition to practicing law and raising a toddler.
Liyanage’s vision for Wholly Crepe extends beyond just serving food –– she wants the restaurant to serve as a meeting place for the community.
“I’m trying to make the cafe a community-oriented place where people can just come and spend time,” Liyanage said. “And there’s an obvious theme of social progressiveness, which I think is necessary in times like these. ... I think since our most recent presidential election, the way the country is going, I feel like you need places with an open environment where people can be free to talk to each other and share their thoughts.”
Wholly Crepe features several posters of well-known social justice activists such as Angela Davis, Che Guevara and Malcolm X, pictured on the left. The monkey business crepe, pictured on the right, is topped with Nutella and filled with slices of banana.
Liyanage hopes the business will eventually become a community staple. She said longevity is more important to her than making huge profits upfront.
“We are looking to make it a lasting business by being community-oriented and being a place where people come regularly –– which we do,” she said. “Like on Sundays probably 70 percent of the people that come are regulars and I know all of them now.”
Anthony DeFeo, a Wholly Crepe employee and junior film studies major, said his favorite thing about the restaurant is the environment.
“I like the space itself, the community we’re fostering at Wholly Crepe,” DeFeo said. “We have a free library in the back, which has loads of great literature. We sell paintings off the wall by a local artist, Tony Nash, and sometimes we do food swaps with the people from Sato Ramen down the street.”
Wholly Crepe’s clientele primarily consists of families and older people. But Liyanage and her employees –– five out of six of whom are UB students –– hope to attract more student business in the future.
Maylan Nguyen, an employee and junior environmental geosciences major, said the restaurant is an ideal spot for students to hang out.
“[Wholly Crepe] is close to campus, affordable and filled with great vibes,” Nguyen said. “I guarantee that studying with a crepe, a coffee and the Beatles radio playing quietly in the background is much more pleasant than doing work at the Silverman Library.”
Justin Feldis, a junior aerospace engineering major, discovered Wholly Crepe when he walked past it on his way to class one day.
“I love that [Wholly Crepe] is close to my house and convenient, but also tastes fantastic and is super affordable,” Feldis said. “I would recommend it 4,000 percent to students, especially those living by South Campus, or even students in the dorms who don’t have a car, but want to try new foods off campus.”
The menu has both savory and sweet crepe options. Savory crepes are more like a meal, whereas the sweet crepes are on the “lighter side” and are more dessert-like, Liyanage added. She said the most popular savory crepe is the tomato caprese crepe, topped with turkey, mozzarella, tomato and pesto. For the sweet crepes, lemon ricotta is most popular with adults, whereas kids tend to go for monkey business, a sweet confection lathered in Nutella and topped with fresh bananas.
Wholly Crepe is located at 3292 Main St. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the weekend from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The average price for a crepe is roughly $6.