Jenkins, whose father is in the construction business, calls himself a fifth-generation entrepreneur (a bio he posts on the What Crepe? website mentions a stint as co-owner of Black Pearl on Main Street), but he claims he had never cooked or even worked in a restaurant when "I asked myself, why don't we have anything like Cafe Crepe in my hometown?"
Home was Birmingham, and he did open a crepe cafe there in 2012. That was his second What Crepe?--he opened his first in Royal Oak in 2009--and this is his third.
Jenkins seems to have a preternatural gift for spotting talent. Sitting at the recently opened What Crepe? on Liberty, flanked by his two executive chefs, he generously turned the interview over to them. Both have stories that read like slacker-makes-good inspirational literature.
Erik Stephenson, Jenkins' Royal Oak chef, calls himself a "lifer" in the restaurant biz: "I tried a sales rep job once and quit." Around that time, "Our moms were hanging out talking--it was just random. My mom said, 'Oh, my son's looking for a job.'" Twenty-five-year-old Stephenson rolled up to the interview arranged via the moms "in torn jeans on my skateboard," hoping to score a job as a dishwasher. Hired in as a prep cook, he advanced to line cook, saute cook, and sous chef before taking the reins at Royal Oak when Jenkins left to start the Birmingham location.