The insanely popular Wafels & Dinges truck opened its first brick-and-mortar location this morning at 2nd Street and Avenue B, and owner Thomas DeGeest hopes it’ll function primarily as a neighborhood coffee shop.
Brooklyn Roasting drip and cold brew are on the menu, as well as a full bar of espresso drinks. The amped-up menu also includes new savory waffle options, such the 2nd Street Salmon Waffle with lox, lemon-dill sour cream, and pickled onions. Milkshakes are another new addition, including one made with the truck’s popular speculoos ice cream, which tastes like gingerbread cookies.
“Everything that we do is visual,” DeGeest said, about café’s roundtable bar, where all the waffle-ironing and coffee-brewing will be done. “There’s no hidden kitchen in the back.”
DeGeest took great pains in the design, hoping to avoid a “run of the mill fro-yo type look,” and as you can see below, the place isn’t exactly, er, dingy (sorry: we weren’t going to go there, but we waffled). DeGeest hopes the airy, mulit-windowed interior will recall industrial kitchens from the 1960s. The walls are decorated with Belgian waffle irons from the early 1900s and zoomed-in photos of the New York-based cycling team that the company sponsors (according to DeGeest, “waffles and bikes are very closely connected in Belgium”).
The biggest change from the truck to the café? The store offers packaged versions of some of the goods (butter waffles, stroop waffles, and speculoos cookies) that the truck uses in its decadent concoctions, and is also selling a Belgium chocolate spread called Kwatta that can only be found at the café (DeGeest says he’s the only importer of the stuff in the United States).
Wafels and Dinges trucks currently travel all across Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, but DeGeest made a conscious decision to plant his first store on the Lower East Side/East Village border. “This neighborhood is a great mix of families and nightlife,” he said. “Plus, I live down the block.”
The café opens at 7am daily and on Thursday through Saturday, it’ll stay that way until 1am. Are they hoping to become a mainstay for those on the hunt for drunchies? “It’s inevitable that we’ll get some of that business,” DeGeest said, about folks stopping by after leaving the area’s many watering holes on the weekends. “We’re looking forward to it!”
Wafels & Dinges, 15 Avenue B, East Village