By Kathy Hatch for Eugene Daily News
Off the Waffle has been one of the more successful businesses in Eugene in recent history. Omer Orian, along with his brother Dave, started the business in 2009 when they were selling waffles out of their house on Van Buren street.
The instant success of the Belgium Liege waffles saw a need for expansion. Taking their business to the next level, the brothers moved to 2540 Willamette Street in January 2010.
And, while the previous location on Willamette Street helped to boost business, an often cramped space had many anxious customers calling for more room. So, recognizing the need to open up some more space and bring their business into a more centralized location, the Off the Waffle brothers relocated their business into downtown Eugene, with the new location becoming fully operational two weeks ago at 840 Willamette Street.
The new location targets several groups: working people, people going to bars in the evening, people who live in this end of town, and university students. It also serves the spillover from the 25th Street location.
When asked why there has yet to be a grand opening, Omer replied that they prefer organic growth for the time being.
At 2,300 square feet, the kitchen of the new restaurant is about as large as the entire 25th Street restaurant. The tables and booths here are comfortably spaced giving them opportunity for adding more tables later.
Though some businesses would be concerned about advertising and hyping up their business through different avenues, Off the Waffle’s focus remains on getting their vision right. Omer and Dave are working on organizing the kitchen, putting systems in place, and hiring and training additional staff. They want to get it right the first time and not turn off potential customers.
The walls are covered in a wonderful mix of art: photos from one of their employees who is a photographer, Katy Keuter, another wall has quilting art from one of their regulars, Jane Spence, and there is also a collection of small paintings from another artist. The idea is to keep the walls fresh and change this every few months.
Although they have not done much to advertise their new location, customers are finding them. This morning every seat was full as brunch is the most popular time for their restaurant. And, despite business being great at this time of day, Omer wants to remind everybody that Off the Waffle is open for business at just about any time of the day.
“Waffles are not just a breakfast food,” explained Omer. “I enjoy eating waffles any time of day.”
Omer attributes their success to, first and foremost, the food.
“It’s unique, exciting, delicious and fun.”
The businesses obtains their food sources from local outlets whenever possible. Sticking with the local feel and seeking to provide top quality products to their customers, Off the Waffle prides themselves on never serving genetically modified foods, never using corn syrup and only using organic produce. The image that they send out to the world is part of the reason why Off the Waffle has been so successful; they have loyal customers who have been very good at spreading the word.
The liege waffle they make is one of several common types from Belgium. They import the pearl sugar from Belgium and cook on cast iron equipment to get the desired effect – the carmalization of the pearl sugar inside the waffle.
Omer and Dave started working on recipes in 2006 and they are still working on making the ‘perfect’ waffle, although Omer says the changes to the recipe are so small the average customer won’t notice.
With a very profitable new business and a more centralized location, Off the Waffle is looking to become a figurehead restaurant in Eugene. Should that happen, Omer made sure to point out that the brothers are looking to find a goal that many of us overlook in the rush of today’s world.
“I want to be happy.”
Off the Waffle is now located at 840 Willamette Street and can be reached at www.offthewaffle.com.