Featured Stories

A creperie controversy

Complaints from a competitor force young cheer coach to adjust her recipe for success


Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Haley Russell (right) runs her creperie stand Saturday while friend and supporter Alexis Smead works by her side. Haleys mom, Nikii Davis (not pictured), also was on hand.Cheerleading coach Haley Russell just wanted to make crepes and be her own boss.

That’s why Russell, 20, took a 10-day course in France, practiced as a cook at Kat’s Crepes for about a year and then opened her own business in the Wizer’s parking lot in downtown Lake Oswego this spring.

“I never envisioned working for someone else my whole life,” said Russell, a 2012 Lake Oswego High School grad.

But Russell also never envisioned that when she fired up her own griddle and opened Creperie Le Bon Temps, she’d ignite a disagreement with her former boss that has involved firings, calls to the police and a notice from code enforcement officials.

They “can say all they want that it’s about the codes,” Russell said, “but I know that’s not the reason. It’s a personal feud.”

Russell has been selling her crepes since May, with hours on Fridays and Sundays and during the Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. But Kat’s Crepes, owned by Kathryn Simpson, also sells at the market on Saturdays, and on Aug. 2, her husband, Edward Simpson, called the police.

The Simpsons’ complaint — that Russell had violated a city code by having a portable structure in place for more than a total of 14 days in a six-month period — was forwarded to code enforcement officials, to whom the couple had complained before. The city on Aug. 5 issued a violation notice to Russell based on the Simpsons’ complaints.Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Haley Russell (right) runs her creperie stand Saturday while friend and supporter Alexis Smead works by her side. Haleys mom, Nikii Davis (not pictured), also was on hand.

“We see competition as what makes America great, and there are dozens of crepes shops around the Portland area,” said Edward Simpson, an attorney. “What we don’t like is unfair competition. What we don’t like is people who directly violate the law in a way that’s unethical or illegal.”

So Russell took down her canopy. Casting shade in its place this past Saturday: two umbrellas, one of them lent to Russell by Stickmen Brewery & Skewery. Russell said she didn’t know that she had been violating city code, but she contends that the complaints aren’t really about the canopy anyway.

“It’s about the fact that I opened a competing business,” Russell said.

When Russell opened her booth in May, she set it up near where the Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market is held. The stand sits on the southeast corner of the Wizer’s shopping center parking lot on First Street, in space that owner Gene Wizer has loaned her.

“In our opinion, they had specifically set up right outside the farmers market in order to fool people into thinking they were a part of the farmers market,” Edward Simpson said.

Wizer has provided space in his lot to Russell since she was 11, allowing her to sell flower baskets, then Christmas trees to pay for summer camp for herself and other kids.

“You know, somebody young like that who has a good product, we like to promote that kind of thing and not discourage someone who wants to work,” said Wizer, who has signed an agreement to sell most of his property at First Street and A Avenue. A developer has proposed a controversial mixed-use development for the site that includes high-density housing and retail space.

Russell has continued her good works with Creperie Le Bon Temps, giving a portion of its profits to the Lake Oswego Junior High and Youth Cheer teams. Russell, a former cheer captain at LOHS, founded the teams and serves as head coach. So far, she’s raised $600 for the squads. Members of the LOHS cheer team, who help staff Russell’s booth, have also raised $400 to pay their individual cheer expenses.

Though Russell has gotten support from Wizer and Stickmen, she said she hasn’t gotten the encouragement she would have liked from her former boss. In fact, she said Kathryn Simpson fired her shortly after she gave two weeks’ notice on May 4.

Russell said she told her boss that she was planning to pursue her own business, a dream Russell had told Kathryn Simpson before. Russell said she was let go right after Kathryn Simpson asked her where her new business would be located.

“She’s a very nice young lady, and we do wish her the best with her endeavors,” Kathryn Simpson said last week.

Russell said she wanted to make crepes in a more traditional French way than they are cooked at Kat’s Crepes. Located in Bridgeport Village and downtown Portland, the larger creperie has 22 employees and also can be found in the Tualatin and Wilsonville farmers markets.

Kathryn Simpson “was kind of upset that I wanted to do my own thing,” Russell said.

Russell said her former boss also was upset at another employee, Alexis Smead, who is Russell’s friend. When one of the cheerleaders who help staff Russell’s booth canceled the night before a recent shift, Smead filled in. Russell’s mother, Nikii Davis, said Kathryn Simpson confronted Smead while she was working in the booth and “started going off on her.”

“I said, ‘You don’t have the right to do this. Leave her alone,’” Davis said. Davis also said Simpson “went stomping off after I told her, ‘You’re just jealous.’”

Kathryn Simpson said she did have a discussion with Smead, but that some of what she said has been misconstrued.

“I told her I was shocked and surprised, but I certainly can’t control what she does in her spare time,” Kathryn Simpson said.

The following Monday, Smead lost her job at Kat’s Crepes, although Kathryn Simpson said that was not because she saw Smead filling in at Creperie Le Bon Temps.

“There had been some other things going on for about the last four weeks with her,” Kathryn Simpson said.

She added that sometimes people who get involved in a business take it “very personally, and they can’t seem to separate the emotions of being a mother or a young woman, but this is about running a business.”

Davis said that young entrepreneurs and workers should be encouraged, not punished. For her part, Russell said she doesn’t like conflict and the creperie controversy has made her feel uncomfortable. But she’s hopeful that her efforts to adhere to city codes will smooth things out.

Lake Oswego Code Enforcement Specialist Bill Youngblood said that he, Russell and Davis “worked to try and find a solution where they could do what they’re trying to do and comply with city codes.”

On Sept. 19, Russell will transform Creperie Le Bon Temps from an outdoor booth to a pushcart to meet other codes, and Wizer will offer her space in his building to store the cart when it’s not in use.

“Most complaints are very quick fixes, and it just takes a discussion,” Youngblood said. “Ninety percent of the time, the person’s just not aware that there is a city code and that they have to comply with it.”

Learn more

-For more information on Creperie Le Bon Temps, visit www.lbtcreperie.com.

-The website for Kat’s Crepes is www.katscrepes.com.

-Learn more about Lake Oswego Junior and Youth Cheer at www.lakerjrcheer.wix.com/lakercheer.


By Jillian Daley
Reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow me on Twitter
Visit us on Facebook