Tag Archives: local business

Meet the Maker: La Bonne Crepe

La Bonne Crepe began in 2012. Owned by Maya Ittah initially, it quickly became a hit throughout the area for the one-of-a-kind crepes inspired by Maya’s upbringing in France. Maya’s mother, Chantal, and her grandmother made crepes throughout her childhood. After moving to the United States (first to New York, then Virginia), Maya began La Bonne Crepe with the desire to share the dish she loved so much with new friends and acquaintances. In 2014, Chantal took over the business so Maya could concentrate on her studies. Today, you can find Chantal serving fresh crepes at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays every week. She also sets up at Sweet Donkey Coffee on occasion, and participates in local festivals like Go Fest.

“I want people to experience the difference that wholesome, organic ingredients offer. [Our crepes] have a lot more nutrients. This meal is going to give them energy and strength. That is my goal,” explains Chantal.

“People really like the crepes, and they enjoy watching me making them,” she adds. “They like the healthy version.”

The rich family history and connections behind this business are far from over. Chantal and Maya have plans for a brick and mortar location to offer both delicious crepes and guidance for those trying to eat healthy.

Soon, Maya will earn her Master’s degree. She will open a cafe in southwest Roanoke in September, using her knowledge of nutrition to help customers with specific conditions find food that works for them. Once the cafe opens, Chantal will join her there, still serving her healthy crepes.

Crepes, by the way, that offer something for everyone. Chantal is a traveler, and her adventures inspire creativity. She often adds cultural influences to the crepe fillings, making the experience educational and unique.

“I loved to travel when I was younger. I was fortunate to do that and learn about other cultures. My passion is to discover all the cultures and immerse myself into their traditions and languages. I enjoy what I do so much because people come to my booth from all over the world. We talk a lot, and that’s why I feel like I want to add something different to the crepes. People do [them] differently all over the world,” she says.

Stay up to date on where to find La Bonne Crepe, and the new cafe (coming soon!) by following them on Facebook.

Make Healthy Choices at Smoothie King!

Located on the lower level of Towers Shopping Center, Smoothie King offers a wide variety of smoothies for those looking to improve their meal choices. We sat down with one of owners, Cindy Starleigh, to learn more about their smoothies and how they can help customers achieve their goals for a healthy lifestyle.

How were you first introduced to Smoothie King?
“I was a senior project manager so I travelled almost every week to various cities such as Charlotte and St. Louis. When you travel, it is important to be healthy when you are dining out. I liked Smoothie King because they definitely offered that option.”
What made you want to open a location in Roanoke?
“My husband Rocky and I lived in Northern Virginia, but I had family members in Roanoke so we decided to move here. My husband took over our family dry cleaning business and he did that for four years while I continued to travel with my job. During that time, we realized that Roanoke didn’t offer anything like Smoothie King. It was important to us to provide something convenient that encourages people to live a healthy lifestyle.”
smoothie-cupWhat inspired you to become a locally-owned part of the international franchise?
“Franchise was something that we wanted to do because it is a higher rate of success compared to if you opened a small business on your own. Smoothie King has been around since 1973, and the franchises began to open in the late 1980s. Everyone in this business loves what they do and believes in it. That was important to us, because we wanted to sell something that we believed in and had no issues marketing to our customers. For example, we wouldn’t want to encourage our customers to buy foods packed with high calories, chemicals and preservatives. We want them to be healthy.”
What makes you different from some of the other restaurants that offer smoothies?
“There are quite a few differences. First, some fast food places use flavoring liquids to create their flavors. At Smoothie King, we use real fruits and fruit juices. There are no hidden ingredients or preservatives. We also offer vegan smoothies and partner with reputable companies like Nutrition53 Lean1, Chobani, and Sun Warrior to bring the best ingredients to our customers. 
Secondly, all of our smoothies are certified gluten-free. Last year, Smoothie King partnered with the NBA New Orleans Pelicans and their New Orleans stadium is now the Smoothie King Center. In order to be that level of a sponsor, our products had to be tested to make sure they were healthy and clean. The NBA spent close to eight months analyzing our ingredients to make sure there were no chemicals in them and that they were safe for the NBA players and other athletes.
Even the retail products that we carry are scrutinized to make sure they do not contain anything outside of an approved list, because we know that the products that aren’t on that list could have chemicals that are not good for athletes and people.”
Can you replace a meal with a smoothie?
“Absolutely. In fact, we are currently promoting our “Change a Meal Challenge” that will continue through the end of February. The idea is to replace one of your meals with a smoothie, and maybe even replace two meals once you are comfortable. Our smoothies have proteins, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional ingredients that you would typically look for in any type of food. Replace what you are comfortable with and stick with it to see what kind of changes you can experience. In the end, it is about putting things into your body that it needs. It’s not really about dieting, but instead making a lifestyle change you can stick with. ”
IMG_1107How can you help busy women (and men!) with their weight loss/health goals?
“A lot of focus is placed on how we look and losing weight. It creates additional stress that we really don’t need because we are already working and taking care of our families. Losing weight is not simple or easy. Eating healthy isn’t either, but help is available in this store. We want you to know when you are running short on time to prepare a healthy meal, Smoothie King is a great option as opposed to fast food. We even offer products that will help you make your smoothies at home to cut down on costs. We can also give you advice so you have a little less to stress about while you lose weight and get healthier.
Women tend to put their families first and themselves last, but you have to be healthy first in order to do so much for others. It’s easy to say, but doing it is harder. Little things that you can tweak can really make a difference. It all starts with what you put into your body!”

Smoothie King is open seven days a week and their staff is always ready to help you with your nutritional needs. Visit them on the lower level of Towers Shopping Center in Roanoke or go to www.smoothieking.com for more information on all of the products they offer!

P.S. Be sure to pick up a copy of our February issue–it includes a coupon for a FREE 20 oz smoothie from Smoothie King!

Totally Selfish Reasons to Practice Sustainability

Okay, so unpopular opinion time: I love the idea of trying to save the planet, but when it comes right down to it, I typically make decisions that are most convenient for me.

When I started working for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), I made more of an effort to keep the environment in mind when making daily decisions. I found that practicing sustainability didn’t just help the environment, it also made my life much easier.

Don’t believe me? Here are three totally selfish reasons to practice sustainability:

vtgreen31) More space
Do you know what DOESN’T maximize space in your apartment? The ten thousand plastic grocery bags sitting on your washer and dryer. Carrying a reusable grocery bag immediately solves this problem (and HEVT gives these away for free, so if you need one hit us up). Also, most reusable grocery bags carry more groceries than plastic bags, which means less trips from the car. As for the stack of plastic bags already robbing you of your closet space? Micah’s Backpack and other organizations collect plastic bags so they can use them when packaging food for donation.

2) Money money money (monaaayyyy)
Even with gas prices going down, I still get that sinking feeling when the numbers at the pump go up and I can picture my balance at the bank going down. Opting to walk or take the bus a few times a week can make a large difference. If you are in the market for a new car, hybrids have been proven to save consumers money over time. Unplugging items such as coffee makers when you are not using them can also cut down electricity costs, which creates less of a burden on the environment.

3) Locally-grown food tastes better
Buying local is a good idea all around. Less travel means less pollution and gas consumption. Supporting local business means keeping money in the community. Seeing where your food comes gives you control over what hormones do and do not enter your body. But the biggest reason I buy local? It tastes So. Much. Better. Nothing can compete with a tomato picked fresh off the vine.

vtgreen1Written by Sara Lepley, the communication manager of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT). HEVT competes against 16 other universities in a four year competition in which they transform a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. Their two headline sponsors, General Motors and the Department of Energy, challenge HEVT to reduce petroleum usage and greenhouse gas effects, while maintaining safety, performance and customer acceptability. They also help in mind cost and innovation. This is Sara’s second year on the team.