Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Start with two bankers, one conversation over coffee and one recipe and you have Smashed Waffles, located at 718 Dickinson Ave.
When they first discussed the idea in November 2016, owners Justin Cox and Hunter Harrison, dubbed the “Smash Brothers,” wanted to create a new business and streamlined a concept for a waffle-delivery service that was an untouched market in Greenville. They started cooking and delivering waffles out of their home, using simple but effective branding, along with a recipe for sweet yeast-based dough that allows the waffles to hold their shape during the delivery process.
It didn’t take long for word to spread, and, within a few weeks, Justin and Hunter had to find a larger kitchen to rent. They moved their operation to Reimage Church in Winterville and then in April 2017, bought a tiny house-style mobile food truck called the Smash Shack.
Fast forward thousands of waffles later and the two have a new brick-and-mortar home that opened last fall in downtown Greenville. They also have a Raleigh store located across from NC State University on Hillsborough Street. (Each Smashed Waffles location has a church pew to pay tribute to the restaurant’s humble beginnings.)
Hunter and Justin are amazed at how supportive the community has been. Within a few months of opening their storefront, they were recognized as having the Best Dessert in Greenville, an award voted on by the community.
“Seeing people responding to something we dreamed up is incredible,” Justin says.
Those incredible, award-winning waffles start with locally sourced ingredients and are scratch-made daily. The basic dough recipe is the perfect canvas to load on either sweet or savory flavor, and the rest is waffle magic. (All sauces are scratch-made as well.)
Once the recipe was perfected, Hunter and Justin gave menu items inventive and catchy names inspired by their personalities and nostalgia for their childhood.
The Smashed Waffles menu starts with the Famous Five waffles. First is the OG (Original Gangster), topped with honey, OG sauce and powdered sugar. Second is the Swirly Sin waffle with brown sugar butter sauce, cream cheese icing and cinnamon sugar. Next is the Quilted Pig with maple icing, candied bacon crumbles and powdered sugar. Then there is the Chip Chip Hooray with cookie butter, chocolate sauce and mint chocolate chips. Finally, there is the Cereal Thriller topped with sweet cream cheese icing, Fruity Pebbles and powdered sugar.
This last waffle was one of my favorites. The waffle has a chewy and soft inside with a light crunch on top from the Fruity Pebbles cereal. It brought back a taste from my childhood, reminding me of Saturday mornings watching cartoons in my footed pajamas with my brother. A food that can transport you back in time is pretty awesome, and this waffle was so good, it’s Fred Flintstone approved.
All waffles are served with a side of a sweet dipping sauce called Liquid Gold. It’s a waffle’s best mate. Waffles cost $3 each, $8 for three, a half dozen for $15, or a dozen for $21.
Smashed Waffles also has Waffle-Wiches for those seeking a savory waffle or breakfast-style sandwich. Some options include the Happy Go Clucky, a fried chicken breast with bacon and cheese between waffles. There is also The BFF with crispy bacon, fried egg, and white cheddar cheese between waffles. My favorite was the Chatty Patty, which takes the same delicious waffles and adds in a sausage patty, fried egg and cheddar cheese. The flavors were in perfect breakfast harmony. The egg was light and fluffy, sausage savory and robust, with gooey, creamy cheese and the slightly sweet waffles holding it all together. Any time of day, this is a home run in my food book. All of the Waffle-Wiches are $4 each.
Smashed Waffles also serves ice cream sandwiches. Choose from the Campfire, Celebrations or the Nut Job filled with vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, maple and brown sugar butter sauce. These are $5 each.
Pair your waffle with a cup of Joe. All coffee served at Smashed Waffles is premium single-origin beans, locally sourced, based on the theme, “beans that grow together should roast together.” All lattes and coffee are made with espresso beans for a robust flavor. Smashed Waffles offers three coffees, Morning Mojo, the Blackout Dark Roast and the Unleaded decaf. Sixteen-ounce cups of coffee are $2. If you are looking for a unique coffee experience, you can try the Nitro Kegged Coffee. The coffee is cold brewed and allowed to seep for 24 hours, then it’s kegged like beer. The cup of coffee has a frothy top layer like beer foam and has a much smoother flavor that is sweeter and less bitter. The cost is $5.
Smashed Waffles offers 11 lattes with names like The Heist, Hazy, The Cash Money, Full Moon, All Shook Up, Honey Buns and Pretty Boy. Lattes can be made hot, iced or blended. I tasted the TroubleMaker Latte. It starts with Morning Mojo coffee mixed with bourbon caramel syrup, vanilla syrup and brown sugar butter sauce. The perfect pick-me-up, it was a rich coffee that mixes nicely with the velvety sweet flavors of warm vanilla and buttery caramel. If you are feeling a little macho, you can try the Hot Shot Challenge. It is a $5 shot of espresso with ghost pepper syrup and cayenne pepper. If you accept the challenge, you get to keep the shot glass.
No matter what you choose, there is a waffle or latte to fit your food mood. You can visit the restaurant, or order waffles for your next luncheon, business event, wedding, reunion or for your next Saturday morning cartoon festival. You won’t be disappointed. It’s the best getting smashed experience with no hangover.
Smashed Waffles is open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 7 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays. For more information, visit www.smashedwaffles.com or call 364-2872.
Ford + Shep
Chef Brandon Qualls is preparing to open a new restaurant — Ford + Shep — at 718 Dickinson Ave.
“The location was the easy part,” Qualls said. “ I knew that exciting things were happening on Dickinson Avenue, and I wanted to be a part of the change.”
Qualls is the former executive chef of Villedge Wood-Fired Kitchen & Bar at the Hilton Greenville.
The name Ford + Shep comes from the nicknames of his two sons, Redford and Shepherd.
Ford + Shep will occupy both the bank teller building on the corner of Pitt Street and Dickinson Avenue as well as the space located immediately behind Smashed Waffles. The old teller building will be transformed into an outdoor bar that will connect to the main building by means of a glass conservatory space that will facilitate year-round outdoor dining.
Qualls will offer a globally inspired menu that will change every few days to keep things fresh.
The restaurant is expected to open in April. Limited reservations will be taken for the first several weeks and will be announced on Ford + Shep’s Facebook and Instagram pages.