omer orian

Off the Waffle Moves to Downtown

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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.

The Orian brothers have remained true to their organic message at Off the Waffle. Photo courtesy of Off the Waffle.

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.

Off the Waffle’s logo has become synonymous with the best of Eugene. Photo courtesy of Off the Waffle.

“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.

 

Eugene’s waffle imperialists

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Eugene’s Waffle Imperialists
by R.L. Stollar, EDN

“And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede” – Chaucer, The Miller’s Tale

Off the Waffle on Willamette St.

You can’t help but notice the giant orange afro that graces the front of Off the Waffle on Willamette St. Like a guardian angel sent from the 1960’s to watch over owners’ Dave and Omer Orian, it beckons and tempts you to try the creations within. Really, though, the orange afro is a publicity stunt. “We thought it might get people’s attention,” says Omer. And apparently it’s working just fine.

Dave and Omer have been in the waffle business since 2008. Their love began, though, when they were children in Belgium. As they got older, they decided to take their love public. They began as a small waffle shop in the west jefferson neighborhood, then expanded to a food cart in Eugene on 13th St..  The business was becoming successful enough that they consolidated both of those and moved to their current (and only) location a couple years later, commandering the old Baskin Robbins spot at 2540 Willamette St.

Off the Waffle brings their authentic liege waffles to your table.

Off the Waffle’s specialty is “authentic liege waffles.” For waffle newbies, it is important to know there are many versions of waffles. What you usually find at, say, IHOP or Denny’s is just scratching the surface. What we know as a waffle — a batter-based breakfast cake cooked in a distinctive iron — originated in ancient Egypt.

Made with emmer, a primitive wheat, the Egyptian waffle was a “wafer,” an unleavened bread taken during a religious ritual and treated as the body of Osiris, an Egyptian deity. The wafer became a part of Christian rituals as well, stamped with a honeycomb pattern to appear as interlocking crosses.

Sieving flour and making wafers; Velislav Picture Bible, Bohemia, c. 1340.

In the Middle Ages, these wafers became a fasting food sold by monasteries. As their popularity grew, wafers became less religious and more commercial. By the 1600’s they were served with spices, leavening, jellies—luxurious additions that made the wafer a dessert. Soon street vendors, called waferers, could be found on every street corner.

The modern waffle is the leavened form of a wafer. And it takes many forms: the thin American waffle, the plump Belgian, the syrup-filled Stroopwafels in the Netherlands, the yolky Hong Kong grid cake, and, of course, the Belgian liege waffle. The liege, Off the Waffle’s claim to fame, is an adaptation of brioche. Pearl sugar is folded into the dough and caramalizes as it is baking in the cast iron waffle machine. As Off the Waffle says, “This caramelization is the secret.”

"The Felony," a delicious fusion of mango, coconut, and banana.

But it’s not just sugar that makes the orange fro’s wares such an attraction. It’s also the amazing diversity of flavors that Dave and Omer add. Where else can you find “Goat in the Headlights,” a sweet waffle topped with savories like goat cheese, fresh basil, and smoked paprika?

"All Decked Out": two sunnyside up eggs topped with gorgonzola, basil, and bacon.

Or “The Felony,” a concoction of mango sorbetto, coconut flakes, bananas, and whipped cream? With over 16 waffle creations, 3 flatbread sandwiches, 30 toppings, and daily omelette specials, Off the Waffle is an experience unique to Eugene. Not to mention they have their own arcade game in the building.

Dave and Omer are optimistic about the future. Omer says, “We envision a waffle empire of sorts.” Whether or not that empire happens soon is unknown. But they’re definitely well on their way to making waffle lovers of everyone in Eugene.

You can visit Off the Waffle at 2540 Willamette St., Eugene, OR, 97405. To contact them, call (541) 515-6926 or visit their website at http://www.offthewaffle.com.