Belgian waffle restaurant and coffee shop to open in downtown Ann Arbor
Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com
Wafel Shop’s specialty: two different types of Belgian waffles with an extensive selection of toppings. It will also serve coffee drinks from local roasters and other beverages.
Noah Goldsmith and his business partner, Rob Daly, signed a lease in January for the 1,040-square-foot space at 217 S. Fourth Ave., formerly the A2 O’Hair salon. Michael Yi owns the building.
Goldsmith, who grew up in Ann Arbor and attended Community High School, said the idea for the Wafel Shop stemmed from his trip to the Netherlands while he was studying abroad in college.
“I had waffles unlike any I had ever had before,” he explained. “And I never found anything else like that, so after a couple dozen attempts at different recipes to hone it on my own, I was finally able to get it pretty close to what I had in the Netherlands.”
Wafel Shop will serve two different types of waffles: the Brussels waffle - with a fluffy interior and crispy exterior - and the Liege waffle - a dense, sweet waffle with chunks of pearl sugar on the inside.
Goldsmith said there will be an array of toppings people can choose from, including dulce de leche, Belgian fudge, homemade whipped cream, locally-sourced fruits, nuts and a ginger cookie spread. There will also be coffee and juices.
“It’s pretty straightforward in terms of the beverage menu,” he said. “We’re sticking to the mission of being a waffle shop that serves coffee, rather than a coffee shop that serves waffles.”
The goal, he said, is to attract customers all throughout the day, not just during breakfast. Wafel Shop’s tentative hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I think it’s a great spot to pick up food on the way to work and to hang out and get work done on the computer,” he said. “But we’ll also be open late into the evening and we’re hoping people will forgo some of the great desserts in the Main Street area and come over to us for a late-night waffle.”
Renovations are underway at the shop and Goldsmith is aiming for an April opening date. He said he’ll likely hire four additional employees.
He said the space is already very “attractive” with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group is working on the project.
“This space has a very classic feel to it,” he said. “We’re keeping the space and character pretty much as it is.”
But aside from the quality of the space, Goldsmith said he’s always felt passionately about downtown Ann Arbor and Fourth Avenue in particular.
“I grew up in Ann Arbor, went to Community and spent a lot of time downtown,” he said. “I’ve always loved Fourth Avenue and I think there is a really, really great and vibrant community of businesses there.”
Building owner Yi agreed and said Wafel Shop will help to attract more people to the area.
Although Goldsmith acknowledged “notable” turnovers in downtown Ann Arbor businesses in recent months, he added: “I think there are also a lot of great success stories people forget about.”
Along with local businesses Logan, West End Grill and Espresso Royale, Goldsmith pointed to his first job, which was at Zingerman’s, for teaching him about important business lessons.
“It’s not enough to deliver great food, great coffee and a great environment,” he said. “You really need to deliver that service as well, and I think the Ann Arbor consumer is very conscious of that.”
Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lizzyalfs.
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.
Not much is better than a waffle. Hopefully the price is right.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.
Waffle ice cream sandwich with pure maple syrup! There goes the diet!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.
What a relief, this town sure can use another place downtown to get a cup of coffee. The equivalent of Columbia's gross national product, already downtown, is nowhere near sufficient!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.
I've never eaten a waffle without a cup of coffee to go with it, and I will be dining at Wafel Shop, so I'm glad they're serving coffee.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.
I think I'd rather just go to The Broken Egg but I'm willing to try it out.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.
Interesting. All the food snobs who showed up to diss the unhealthiness of Culver's offerings are nowhere to be found. I guess Belgian Waffles are America's New Fat-free Health Food!
Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.
You know who had been selling Belgian Waffles for years? Big boy.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.
Actually, franchises (like Culver's) are cool for the suburbs, that's where they belong, but downtown is another matter. Local kid, home recipe, European inspiration, non-franchise... that's a recipe for success!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.
maybe people are "nowhere to be found" because they are waiting to try the waffles before any comment is made. I have eaten at Culvers: there is one a stone's throw from parents home. We went as a group of 4-5 people. No one cares to go back..The food was overpriced and did not taste good. I was not expecting a health food experience, but for the calories and fat , the food was forgettable.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.
It's not a chain of fatty, substandard fare. At least they're trying something different.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.
Sounds like these guys have found a niche! Not even the annarbor.com naysayers and curmudgeons like me have anything negative to say. Good Luck with the new venture!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.
hope it lasts
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.
Sounds delicious...will you have Gluten Free options, please?!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.
I feel sympathy to for the gluten free crowd, which includes my wife. I hear all the time that a gluten free recipe is close to the real thing, but in all honesty, after over 100 attempts,they are at best adequately edible.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.
Yes for Gluten Free!!!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.
I almost asked the same question! It would be a crime NOT to serve gluten-free waffles! It's a huge market these days (esp in Ann Arbor) & with the increased awareness of gluten-free food, it's becoming easier to accomodate people who can't eat gluten.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.
Found a crispy waffle recipe that uses Club Soda that my family loves...
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.
I wish them success but worry that such a limited offering will so limit them that they don't make it. Hopefully they have a business plan that includes adequate and sustained fund for marketing. Seems like many of the recently closed businesses had neither.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.
Don't underestimate the pull of a good waffle, if they're good, people will seek them out!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.
NIce idea but when will we get a waffle house in Michigan?
Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.
Really?! Instead of a hometown entrepreneur bringing a slice of wafel heaven to our fair city, you are hankerin' for a not-so-good chain restaurant?! Give me a small, quaint and local restaurant ANY day if the week.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.
Are you freakin' kidding me!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.
As soon as we resurrect Stuckey's .
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 7:18 a.m.
Now that sounds great, local stuff and waffles, hey I will be there, please tell when it opens.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.
Reminds me of Waffles & Dinges in Manhattan. I hope it's as good and successful. @Arborist I agree, spekuloos is good stuff.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10 p.m.
I can't wait for this place to open - Belgian waffles are my favorite dessert when I visit Brussels; they're amazing with the Speculoos ginger spread. Best of luck to the future proprietors!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.
If they don't serve real maple syrup, I'll bring my own. The breakfast fare on 4th avenue currently is bleak. No names mentioned
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.
Don't panic Tom - there should be syrup, but if they go traditional it will be something called stroop - Which is kind of like a dark toasted golden syrup. Delicious too!!!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.
Oh, please tell me you're going to serve the hubcap-sized pancake that has bacon cooked in (had them in the Netherlands...so delicious!) Topped with hot maple syrup and a nice cup of coffee or tea: heaven.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.
I'd be in favor of them ditching the waffles altogether in favor of those pancakes (pannekoeken). I've been to Amsterdam four times, and I've eaten those pancakes at least 10 times. To die for. Must have stroop to pour on top!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.
DOH - meant rings of baked apple with powder sugar and cinnamon - must have been day dreaming too much to write properly!!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.
YAYYYY...and the rings of apple with powder sugar and rings of baked apple
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.
Please Please Please can you consider also doing the other delicious dutch treat of poffertjes (aka dutch miniature pancakes) - they would go so well with waffles (fond fond childhood memories!) And please all of you people who want crispy bacon, maple syrup, chicken etc......go to an American diner - that is SOOOOOO not a Dutch / Belgian thing!! Can't wait till you open!
say it plain
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.
I gotta say I'm with you lol...not to diss the whole bacon, chicken and/or southern US "waffle house" thing, but I'd like something Dutch/Belgian/different-than-diner too!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.
Must have syrup .... and bacon, bacon, bacon ! LoL.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.
So, WAFEL is how to spell this food item in Dutch. I hope this comes up in a Google search for someone looking for waffles to eat. I thought for a second Ann Arbor was going to qualify for being in the South, by having a Waffle House, in our midst. That is definitely a regional cultural icon.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.
I'm a bit of a homemade waffle fan/specialist. For bacon lovers, put 3 half strips on top of the batter just before closing the waffle iron. A good, wholesome basic waffle I like uses 2/3 whole wheat pastry flour to 1/3 oat bran. Toasted pecans rock with maple syrup. If the "great customer service" Zingerman's trains is brought to this venture, look for longevity. Let the countdown until the April opening begin.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.
How did someone manage to respond to a story about a waffle shop in a way that got them censored?!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.
They probably said some snarky remark about the Porn business that used to be there and connected it in some obscene way to Waffles!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.
They waffled. Or revealed the waffle truth. Or... OK, I'll stop now.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.
This sounds good to me, too, especially with a side of bacon.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.
YUM!!! One idea maybe worth pursuing, waffle sandwiches...2 waffles with a little slab of ice cream in the middle. Dessert to go!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.
Count of Monte Cristo - Two waffles with ham and melted cheese in between! Not something I'd go for, but some do apparently.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.
So with the rent prices what they are in A2, how many waffles must one sell to break even?
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.
speculating it was the bank of M&D
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.
If the waffles are as good as I'm hoping they will be, then I'm sure these guys will do just fine even in expensive downtown. They just have to make sure to keep the quality of their product high, have excellent customer service, and don't go crazy with the prices and they will flourish.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.
Oh Yeah good luck with the new business.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.
Can't wait to try this new place out! Hint: the post-movie/post-concert crowd could always use another dessert destination. Maybe if they stay open a little longer on Friday and Saturdays?
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.
Sounds yummy. I hope they will have real maple syrup, really whipped butter and also serve bacon :)
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.
My hope is the Liege waffle is like the sugar waffles found slope-side in Vermont and Colorado, oh those are so good and so addictive.
say it plain
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.
Mmmm...waffles! make mine met schlagroom! Good luck to Noah and Rob...this should be a nice addition to downtown! The smell of waffles is always a great addition to any street... (Plus I like the idea of some cuisine inspired by those regions --belgium, netherlands-- being added to the downtown mix)
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.
Oh cool thanks guys! Yes I will have mine met sclagroom too :)
say it plain
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.
yep, @Hmm I was getting nostalgic for the way I recall asking for my waffles when in belgium and holland an age ago(but I think I misspelled it...should be slagroom according to google-translate? I thought there was some ch in there back then lol)
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.
schlagroom = Whipped cream
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.
@Hmm: Make mine with cream!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.
What is schlagroom if you don't mind me asking?
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.
From Danish News to Belgian waffles - times sure have changed for Fourth Ave.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.
Actually Danish news was closer to Kerrytown area. There was another porn store there in the seventies (as well as the Velvet Touch Massage Parlour upstairs).
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.
Can you say awesome!?
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.
Oh yeah! :)
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.
I'm on that very block a couple of times a week every week, and I love waffles (as well as pancakes). Here's one vote for them offering as an option some whole-grain varieties.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.
Oooh exciting! If it's anything like the Waffle Window in Portland we can all expect to put on about 20 pounds in the next year. You really can't get those Liege waffles anywhere (if you know where I CAN, let me know).....
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.
Mmmm...please serve them with a side of really good, crisp, crisp, crisp bacon. Good Luck!
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.
oh b/c reading annarbor.com doesn't waste any of your time?
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.
Thanks bunny, there's 2 minutes I'll never get back.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.
if you love bacon: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/2129889439/sizes/o/" rel='nofollow'>http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/2129889439/sizes/o/</a>
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.
Maybe they can get a deal on the plates from the "squares" resturant.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.
Chicken and waffles? I hope so.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.
Actually the Pennsylvania Deutsch serve Chicken and Waffles but it's in a clear butter sauce with roasted chicken, instead of fried.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.
Nick's on Ann Arbor/Saline Rd. near Meijer serves Chicken and Waffles...
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.
this ain't Caleefor-niA
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.
Sounds great. If they can also do some good to-go breakfast sandwiches, it'll be killer.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.
Mid-morning comma? Is that like an afternoon question mark or an evening dollar sign? Just kidding, now .... got to chuckle .... LOL.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.
How about waffle breakfast catering....but keeping them warm and fluffy would be a challenge. I'd love to come into my morning meeting and have waffles served - it'd be a perfect catalyst for my mid-morning comma.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.
A creative idea! Waffles, mmmmmmm.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.
A new place to eat - how wonderful! :)