This weekend marks the opening of La Belle Crêpe (825 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-333-1100). Owner Alain Lesse can't wait.

"Every day for the past few weeks, we've had 80 to 100 people a day poke their head in and ask, 'When are you opening?' " he said. "Even the mayor came in."

That's the bonus of doing business at a high-profile location. The slip of a space is just off the glorious lobby of the Medical Arts Building, a few steps from the last crêperie to grace downtown (the former Magic Pan) and fronting the city's busiest pedestrian thoroughfare.

Lesse hopes to capture more attention with a pair of crêpe griddles in the window, where he'll be cooking breakfast, lunch and an unfashionably early weeknight dinner (to 7 p.m.), offering both sweet and savory options: buckwheat crêpes filled with eggs, Gruyère and ham; a lightly sugared flour crêpe filled with berries and crème fraîche; and a design-your-own option taking advantage of a long list of ingredients.

Prices will range from $3.50 (for a classic cream-and-sugar combo) to $8.50 (smoked salmon, asparagus and Havarti). "With today's economy, everyone wants to spend $10 or less," said Lesse. "I'll be giving them affordable fast food." Lesse will also stock Izzy's ice cream as well as popular Italian and French sodas. No seating -- there's no room, given that the space was once home to what seemed to be the World's Smallest Fannie Farmer Store -- but Lesse has added a standing-room-only counter that's roomy enough to fit a dozen eat-and-run diners (that's probably eight or so shy Minnesotans with personal space issues).

Lesse, a native Frenchman who has been in Minnesota for 19 years ("I count them as 19 winters," he said), will be a familiar face to many local diners, with a long tenure as a server in a number of Twin Cities restaurants, including Meritage and the former cafe un deux trois. "I've been around the block," said Lesse with a laugh. "It's time for me to be out on my own."

Doing Uptown a big favor

The Favor Cafe (913 W. Lake St., Minneapolis) is now cooking in the former Restaurant Miami. The Crockett-and-Tubbs interior remains the same, but the made-from-scratch food is a world apart: catfish po' boys, fried chicken with collard greens, shrimp-crawfish gumbo, fried okra and peach cobbler.

RICK NELSON