"Noah Goldsmith and Tia Hoffman, combining their love for Belgian-style waffles and quality coffee, opened the Wafel Shop in downtown Ann Arbor on Monday.
The restaurant at 113 E. Liberty St., the former Cafe Japon space, opened at 10 a.m. following several months of renovations.
“We’re really excited,” Goldsmith said. “It’s been a long journey.”
Goldsmith originally hoped to open the Wafel Shop on South Fourth Avenue, but canceled those plans after realizing the building’s electrical capacity would not meet the restaurant’s needs. In October, he partnered with Hoffman and signed a lease for the space on East Liberty.
The menu at the Wafel Shop includes two types of Belgian-style waffles: the Brussels, with a crispy exterior and fluffy interior, and the Liège, a dense, sweet waffle with chunks of pearl sugar on the inside. A gluten-free waffle will be available next week.
Toppings include fruit, nuts, bacon, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, Nutella, peanut butter and Biscoff spread. Each waffle is $5, and toppings cost between $1 and $2. Powdered sugar and butter is included for free.
"We are a waffle shop,” Hoffman said. “We serve waffles and the toppings that adorn them. We’re not doing hash browns or anything like that.”
Goldsmith agreed, saying: “I think that the waffle is really something you can eat any time of day, particularly the Liège waffle. Coming from Belgium, it’s the street food…I think it’s a great blank canvas to add whatever you want to it.”
Their favorite waffle combinations include: the Liege waffle with strawberries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and almonds; or the Liege waffle with Biscoff, whipped cream and strawberries.
The Wafel Shop sources produce from Frog Holler Produce Co., dairy products from Calder Dairy, and Zingerman’s is making a Wafel Shop coffee blend.
“As an owner of a small business, we feel it’s really important to support other small businesses as we grow,” Goldsmith said in a statement. “We’re focused on providing exceptional service and products, and we want area businesses to be involved from the start.“
There are 16 seats at the restaurant, but because it only takes three minutes to make a waffle, customers can get them to go..."
Interestingly, Michigan has a Belgian connection since there was a vibrant Flemish community in Detroit for many years. They even had their own newspaper.
The prices are a little high compared to what they are in Brussels but if they make them correctly and it does seem that they know what they are doing, I trust that they will be successful.
photo: Richard Harris
The Pastry World Cup, the world's most demanding pastry competition which took place in Lyon last weekend, saw fierce competition between the 22 qualifying countries. A traditional pastry heavyweight, the Belgian team took a relatively disappointing 8th place.