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Ukrainian food truck owners in Austin raising money for deaf community in Ukraine

Vladimir and Inna Giterman moved to Austin in 1996. In 2007, they opened Crepe Crazy to share their culinary culture with the central Texas community.

BUDA, Texas — Wednesday afternoon, Inna and Vladimir Giterman opened up their Crepe Crazy food truck in a Buda neighborhood.

"I picked crepes because there's not a lot of competition out there like there is for pizza. That's impossible. Barbecue, that'd be impossible. There's so many good places to go get that. But crepes? Nobody but me," Vladimir said.

The couple moved to Austin in 1996. Vladimir grew up in Russia, Inna grew up in Ukraine. They met in Belarus, moved to New York in 1990, then called Central Texas home.

As the war in Ukraine rages on, the couple calls it "sad and difficult."

"My mother still lives there in Kiev, in Ukraine, so she's hiding now alone in an apartment with her cat and I'm still worried about her a lot and I'm hoping she's OK," Inna said.

Inna talks to her mom about once a week, communicating through her mom's neighbor.

The couple uses Vladimir's mother's crepe recipes with the variety of Inna's family's fillings.

"My mom's recipes, the batter, that's where we got that to make the crepes that came from my mom," Vladimir said.

"[Growing up] we put jams in them and things like that, mushrooms. Simple, very simple things. But here we really have grown on top of that," Inna said. "For example, we have peanut butter. And in Europe, they don't use peanut butter. Right? That was something that we added here because we're in America and that's our crowd. Some people don't like it. Some people do like it. So we tried to give a variety of selections that people can be satisfied with."

RELATED: Austin company helps contractor, family escape war in Ukraine

Inna and Vladimir's customers experience another difference when eating at Crepe Crazy: the couple is deaf so customers simply point to what they want on the menu.

"If we were in Russia or Ukraine, it would be extremely difficult to run a business, but America is so much more amazing, there are more services, we have interpreters," Vladimir said through Joshua Evans, an Austin-based American Sign Language translator.

Because the couple is deaf, they're raising money to help the deaf community in Ukraine.

As Ukrainian immigrants and owners of Crepe Crazy with deep ties to our families and communities in Ukraine, we are...

Posted by Crepe Crazy on Saturday, March 12, 2022

RELATED: Ukrainian artists, creators at SXSW share their stories of the war

"We're actually doing a fundraiser selling our sweet dessert crepes," Inna said. "They're running out of food, they're having a hard time finding resources. We just need to help."

Inna noted there were 57 schools for the deaf and hard of hearing in Ukraine. The couple believes all of them are closed due to the military operations happening across the country.

Inna and Vladimir launched Crepe Crazy in 2007, primarily hosting a stand at various festivals. In 2015, they opened their first restaurant in Dripping Springs followed shortly by two food trucks for greater mobility.

RELATED: Ukrainian family in Austin shares story of escaping war

They say only a rare few customers get frustrated having to communicate using rudimentary "sign language." However, sharing their crepes opens up their historic culinary culture to so many in Central Texas.

"There are some, they just don't know about crepes, and we leave that alone," Vladimir said. "Some people get thrilled and they'll buy it. People will email us, come visit us wherever locations we're at. There are people that have been waiting and just sit around waiting and want to talk."

If you would like to follow the Crepe Crazy food truck's locations or the location of dozens of others in Austin, the ATX Food Truck Festival created a new Facebook group to do just that.

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