Len Caric and Jim Rudolph hope that their new restaurant will be a great success.
Affiliates bring Smashed Waffles to 3501 Forbes Ave. in Oakland and plan to franchise the concept across Pittsburgh. Sherree Goldstein, owner of the Square Café in East Liberty, will act as operational partner.
The North Carolina-based brand specializes in waffles, which start as dough balls made from Belgian pearl sugar and are crushed in a cast-iron waffle press. Think of it as a sweet, early morning alternative to a smash burger.
The pastries are baked until golden brown, creating a caramelized outer shell with a fluffy interior. Customers can choose from a variety of sweet and savory toppings, from vanilla icing and fruity pebbles to hot peppers, mozzarella and marinara sauce.
You can also opt for a smashedwich, like the Happy-Go-Clucky – chicken, bacon and cheddar between two waffles – or choose the dessert route and order an ice cream waco. The taco-shaped waffles are filled with vanilla soft ice cream and various sugary extras.
Smashed Waffles will launch in September as a “ghost kitchen,” a business model based solely on deliveries in the East End. The Oakland Store will open for on-site dining in January 2022.
“We have been following the whole concept of the ghost kitchen for some time,” says Caric. “It’s a great way to start this business and get the product out earlier than the restaurant.”
Caric says the neighborhood is the perfect place for smashed waffles thanks to the high density of universities and hospitals. From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., diners can stop by and grab a single waffle (about the size of a donut), half a dozen, or a dozen along with a coffee with beans from a local roaster. Despite the name, Smashed Waffles won’t serve alcohol.
Rudolph is a franchise industry veteran who brought Wendy’s first fast food operation to Pittsburgh in the 1970s, as well as Rita’s Italian Ice.
While on a business trip to Greenville, North Carolina, Rudolph visited the original eatery and fell in love with the concept. Caric believes the Pittsburghers will be ready to be “smashed” too.
“It’s something else that tastes fantastic,” says Caric. “We were so excited about that.”