After six months in business, Sweet As Waffles is making a name for themselves by making a wide selection of waffles.
On April 20, the owners of Sweet As Waffles, Nate Brown and Graham Berkwitt, opened the doors to their brick and mortar shop in downtown Bellingham on Railroad Ave. While they have been open less than a year, the roots of Sweet As Waffles extend much deeper.
“We have a number one rule here and all the employees know it,” Berkwitt said. “It’s no soggy waffles.”
Before the idea of the waffle shop came to fruition, Nate and Graham were just a couple of 20-year-olds, traveling the world, working in the restaurant industry and dreaming of something bigger.
Both of them chose different paths. Brown chased surf waves in New Zealand and Berkwitt backpacked through China. On their journeys, they contemplated what their lives would look like upon returning to Bellingham.
“After watching so many incredible businesses close and be replaced with generic coffee shops and apartment complexes, we decided it was time to bring something special to Bellingham,” Berkwitt said. “Our mission was to create a space that emphasizes and revitalizes Bellingham’s weird, fun and quirky culture that we had fallen in love with over the years.”
Brown and Berkwitt were both college students living on a tight budget, and they decided to buy a trailer and build a food truck, which they opened in May of 2021 outside Stemma Brewing.
“The food truck was a great stepping stone to establish our name. And most importantly for us, it was really cheap startup costs,” Berkwitt said. “It was all out of pocket, we didn’t have any loans or investors, and it allowed us to establish the brand.”
After just a few weeks, Brown and Berkwitt were thinking of what their next step may be and how they could expand. Nearly two years later, they left the food truck behind and started working on opening up their new location downtown.
“Once we got the keys it took us about three months to open, but Nate and I were in here every single day 12 hours a day at least, seven days a week. … We never left this place,” Berkwitt said.
Sweet As Waffles now finds themselves fully immersed within downtown Bellingham, creating memorable experiences within the local community.
“We try to do a lot of partnerships with different businesses,” said Berkwitt. “And whether it's having their product on our waffles or doing social media stuff or events, we're just trying to get together building our brands up.”
One way Bellingham seeks to support up-and-coming businesses is through the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, is “dedicated to furthering the vibrancy and growth of our downtown.”
Nathalie Wagler is the events and promotions coordinator for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, and assists in managing events and general promotions for the city.
“We love having them downtown. They've definitely brought such a fun energy to that corner. They have a really cool and engaging social media, and as the Downtown Bellingham social media manager, I really appreciate that they really work to uplift their neighbors,” Wagler said.
Sweet As Waffles is located at 122 E. Magnolia St. in downtown Bellingham, serving waffles starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. On Western Wednesdays, a discount day for Western Washington University students, they offer 10% off all waffles and discounts on drinks. Vegan and gluten free options are also available.
"Their waffles put a smile on my face,” said customer James Ingwood. “The waffles are fluffy, golden brown and perfectly sweet. They offer all sorts of toppings to choose from, so you can find the perfect waffle for your taste.”
Evan Riley (he/him) is a city news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a third-year student at Western working towards his major in News/Editorial journalism. He has dreams of becoming a travel writer and is continually thinking about where he'll go next.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org