BREAKFAST IS COMING! Fargo will be home to a delicious pop-up waffle shop for two wafflefully special days.
Simone Wai and Joe Burgum of Folkways are opening The Waffle Room to prove the need for more brunch locations in downtown Fargo and also document the process of opening a restaurant.
Ugly Food of the North co-founder Megan sat down with Simone to chat process, menu options and how they’ve been thoughtful when it comes to sustainable food sources, reducing waste and improving overall operations.
M - Why you decided to do a pop-up restaurant?
S - Well first, we thought it would be really fun! There’s also a lot more open spaces in downtown Fargo than people think and we want to expand people’s thinking about picking a space off Broadway. And with our work with Folkways, we wanted to document the process and create a guide for other people who want to open a restaurant. The goal is to do videos, blogs, and to use that information and come up with a How to Open a Restaurant in Fargo guide.
M - That’s so great. So tell me, why did you decide on waffles?
S - Because everyone loves waffles! Seriously, if someone hears the word waffles, their ears perk up! It’s actually crazy. And it’s been so funny, people will say ‘I’m so glad you didn’t do pancakes. Pancakes suck.’ But I’ve realized over the past weeks that there’s something special about waffles. The fact that you have to have special equipment to make them - to get out the waffle maker and not everyone has a waffle maker - it makes them something special. You can’t just make a waffle. You have to be ready to make a waffle.
M - So true. I never thought of that. So, I know you did a lot of testing to figure out what recipe you wanted to use and what types of waffles you wanted to make. There can be a lot waste generated when doing testing. How did you handle that?
S - Definitely! Well, we invited friends. We paired it with our sauna building so whoever came over to help build got a waffle. There were some vegan ones that didn’t turn out and we couldn’t eat, but we composted those. People are very ready and willing to be taster!
M - I’m sure they are! How do you plan to minimize waste during actual production?
S - First of all, we bought pretty conservatively. We are only open until 2 p.m. the first day, so we’ll be able to assess and do some smart buying purchases. We only purchased 75% of the goods we will be able to sell within the time range. Instead of thinking about how many people will show up (and buying ingredients), we thought about how many waffles we can make per minute and what would be our maximum number. Also, we are going to make the batter as we go, because once you mix the dry and wet ingredients it doesn’t last very long. If we keep the dry and wet ingredients separate, they will last longer.
M - Very smart. So, because I know you’re super conscious about buying locally and sustainably and it’s near the end of November, were you able to do much with local foods?
S - Some of the things that we wanted to buy weren’t available, but we’re trying to focus on getting things locally as much as possible. We are doing local coffee from 20 Below. Prairie Roots is donating strawberries leftover from their smoothie events. Noreen Thomas of Doubting Thomas Farms is bring vegan waffle mix, because (hushed voice) my recipes were terrible! She asked me if I wanted some, and I was like ‘Yes, mine suck!’ And we’re also working with Prairie Plate to get all vintage, reusable plates for the shop.
M - That’s so great. Would you encourage people to bring their own tupperware if they think they can’t eat a whole waffle on the spot?
S - I definitely would! We’re not having to-go boxes because of our speed of waffle making. But definitely. So yes, if you can’t eat a whole waffle, I would be very happy to see a take home container. Also, people on ourFacebook group have been asking, “Will there be bacon? Will there be chicken?” and I said, “If you show up with some, I won’t stop you!”
M - Alright, lastly and most importantly, what’s your favorite waffle you’re making this weekend?
S - Oh gosh! Well, I am Scandinavian by blood so I’m gonna have to pick The Lars, which is our smoked salmon, sour cream and caper waffle. The warm buttermilk melts the sour cream and then it melts your heart.
M - Sounds heavenly. Is there anything else you want to tell me about The Waffle Room?
S - You should come! It’s going to be great and so fun!
The Waffle Room is open this weekend, November 21st and 22nd from 8 a.m. to 2p.m. at 119 5th St N., Downtown Fargo.
- The Paul = Maple Syrup
- The Eloise - Prairie Roots Strawberries, Nutella, Granola & Whip Cream
- The George - Bananas, Peanut Butter, Cinnamon & Whip Cream
- The Virginia - Green Apples, Brie Cheese, Pecans & Maple Syrup
- The Lars - Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Capers
- Orange Juice & Coffee
Disclaimer: The Waffle Room and Ugly Food of the North would like to acknowledge that we have no ill will or negative feelings towards pancakes. We wish them all the best - in breakfast and beyond.