“I think, hopefully, it will just add some more sweet dessert energy to downtown,” said Sylvan Ferrulli, an employee at Mallard Ice Cream, a neighboring business to the new brick-and-mortar.
The co-owners, Nate Brown and Graham Berkwitt, plan to open the store in April 2023. Brown and Berkwitt bought the shell of a trailer in Eugene, Oregon, in 2018 and spent the next two years building it out while working and attending school full time.
“It’s all been self funded as broke college students,” Berwitt said. “It's been a struggle, but [we’re] just putting it into this vision that we had to start a waffle shop and bring this fun, quirky, good, sweet-savory waffle food to Bellingham.”
After building, they opened in May 2021 as a stationary food trailer parked at Stemma Brewery at 2039 Moore St. in Bellingham.
“The original idea before that trailer was just flatline, like a hole-in-the-wall somewhere downtown behind someone's coffee shop,” Berkwitt said.
After struggling to find a small rental space downtown, they decided to build their own hole-in-the-wall.
Operating in a small space came with a unique set of challenges.
“You definitely learn the dance, as we call it,” Berkwitt said. “It was a lot of booty boppin’, it’s a lot of elbowing the side by accident. But yeah, we make it work for sure.”
They typically operate with two or three employees at a time.
“It was an overall good experience,” said Andrew Baesler.
Baesler is a student at Western Washington University and has eaten at Sweet as Waffles.
“All of the waffles were also served with a little dinosaur; that's pretty cool,” he said. “That made the experience more fun.”
Berkwitt and Brown have put the trailer up for sale and will have the brick-and-mortar as well as a smaller vehicle for catering. They are excited to have more space and join the community of downtown Bellingham business owners.
“Being able to be by some like-minded individuals owning these businesses, it's just a really good community sense here,” Berkwitt said.
Ferrulli has worked downtown for over three years and is excited about Sweet as Waffles joining the community.
“I think downtown workers have a good community," Ferrulli said. “WinkWink and Sugar on Magnolia offer discounts to other downtown workers when you mention it.”
In fall 2022, Sweet as Waffles and Mallard Ice Cream had an ice cream and waffle sandwich collaboration.
“I was not working the day that we did the collaboration with them, so I instead came in as a patron and got the waffle and ice cream combo that they were doing with us,” Ferrulli said.
Location played a major part in the business decision. They are expecting more foot traffic and hope to broaden their market to college students and a younger demographic.
“Make this brick-and-mortar just like the bustling breakfast and late night spot,” Berkwitt said.
Along with location, they plan to use the space to expand their services.
“To have free range to actually complete our vision board in our businesses is nice,” Brown said.
After having complete control over the business and the space, they look forward to more opportunities like a larger menu, coffee, alcoholic drinks and even wholesale waffles.
Lauren Eydt (she/her) is a city news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second-year visual journalism pre-major and is working on a Fairhaven or studio arts double major. Lauren also loves to crochet, pet her cat and watch movies all at the same time.
You can reach her at email@example.com.