Jennifer and Kagen Cox first encountered crepes on a date at a mall in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kagen, in particular, was gobsmacked.
“I couldn’t believe I’d never had one before,” he said.
Seeking out crepe restaurants became something of a hobby for the couple that continued after they married, started a family and moved from Montana to Richland.
In October, they united their love for crepes with a long history of launching businesses by opening Kagen Coffee & Crepes in the former Golden Croissant location in Richland at the Uptown Shopping Center, 270 Williams Blvd.
It is a labor of love for the busy couple. Jennifer focuses on raising their two young children. Kagen works in track maintenance for BNSF Railway at the Pasco hump yard.
While he works for the railroad, Kagen Cox is an entrepreneur at heart.
“I’m that guy that’s had 50 different side businesses out of my garage, trying to get something to stick,” he said.
Two past endeavors were viable. He was offering European-style taxidermy services to area hunters until he tired of working with dead animals and later tried his hand at a specialized custom paint business.
Kagen Coffee & Crepes serves espresso as well as sweet and savory crepes and offers gluten-free options.
The crepe business owes its existence to the couple’s daughter and her school fundraisers. As Kagen recalls, he decided to buy a coffee machine and figure it out when his wife couldn’t find people to serve coffee at school events.
He found the vacant Golden Croissant spot at Uptown and was chiefly interested in using its kitchen to test his coffee skills. The church next door asked the Coxes to consider opening a coffee shop.
They prayed about the idea and decided to open not only a coffee shop, but a crêperie as well. They took out a loan backed by Kagen’s 401(k) retirement plan and, with plenty of support from friends, opened Oct. 16.
Buoyed by a feisty social media campaign, Kagen was overwhelmed on opening day. The Coxes planned for 60 and bought enough ingredients to last for four days.
More than 400 people showed up, and the restaurant closed early when the food ran out.
“It was unbelievable. I get choked up when I talk about it. The Tri-Cities has been so awesome for us,” he said.
He immediately bought a third griddle and will add a fourth to keep up with demand that has resulted in customers waiting as much as an hour for their orders. Crepe griddles cost $700.
“I can’t have that problem all the time,” he said.
Kagen spends most of his non-railroad hours at the restaurant, stopping in early in the morning to set up and returning at night. The restaurant employs five.
Kagen Coffee and Crepes is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. It serves espresso as well as sweet and savory crepes and offers gluten-free options.