Cousins John Keith and Paul Domish have more in common than family. In the past, both of them have battled drug addictions. But within the past two years, they’ve taken their lives in an entirely different direction with their crepe-inspired food truck Crepe Day-Twah.
Established in 2016, Crepe Day-Twah (a phonetic spelling of the French pronunciation of “Detroit”) offers an array of sweet and savory crepes.
The endeavor lingered in Keith’s mind for a few years, but before giving it a go, he had to get healthy.
“I was going through an interesting time in my life,” he says. “I had recently broken a drug addiction and that … definitely had an effect on forming the company. By letting go of that part of my life, it freed me up to do things that I really wanted to be doing … And I did that with my cousin … we both had that problem and we connected on it.”
Inspiration also came from Keith’s visit to his brother in London. Noticing the popularity of food trucks there, Keith took the idea home to Michigan, and after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a degree in biopsychology cognition and neuroscience, he decided to give the business a try.
Friends were skeptical, but he ran with it “People … were like, ‘You’re completely out of your mind, you’re building a crepe truck?’ ” he says. “ ‘You’re a science major, why don’t you go to med school or pursue something and just stay the course?’ ’’
The food truck aspect seemed familiar enough. But why crepes? “People don’t take the time to recognize the French influence in Detroit,” Keith says. “Why are there so few French restaurants? I was working at Detroit Water Ice Factory and they were serving crepes there and I just thought it would be even cooler if it was out in the streets.”
In homage to Detroit’s French roots, Crepe Day-Twah makes their thin pancakes in a traditional French style. Batter ingredients include all-purpose organic flour, pasteurized eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, and whole milk.
The result is a familiar, tasty, portable product. “It’s very neat and clean,” Keith says. “It kind of fits the bill as a street food because there are no utensils and you can walk around at a fair or festival.”
Customers choose from a rotating menu of sweet and savory crepes, including the truck’s most popular crepe dubbed “This Little Piggy.” It’s a savory crepe filled with freshly sliced prosciutto, arugula, pear slices, and mozzarella cheese.
Recently, Keith says, customers have also enjoyed an apple pie-inspired crepe made with freshly cut apples tossed in brown sugar and ground cinnamon with graham cracker crumble, sweet cream filling, and caramel topping.
The truck’s décor is also French inspired. On top of the truck, passersby are greeted by a 10-foot tall glowing Eiffel Tower, accompanied by a 10-foot long flip-up galvanized sign inscribed with the banner “Crepe Day-Twah.” A 100-year-old cash register sits upon an old hickory barrel, while an iPad sits to the side for credit transactions. It makes for an inviting atmosphere, one that Keith and Domish hope more customers will take in.
As Keith and Domish hope to boost support for food trucks in the city, they also hope to support the community by giving back and sharing their story.
“Whenever there is a local event, in particular in an effort to help people struggling with addiction and recovery, we’ll be there,” Keith says. “We’ll help them for free because we want to show to them we care and there are people out there going through something similar to them.”