FEATURED RISK TAKERS:
THE PEOPLE’S WAFFLE
To kick off a month of inspirational stories, we’re incredibly excited and privileged to bring you an interview with the owners of The People’s Waffle! Kevin and Jason are two professionals who quit their jobs and opened their dream waffle shop on Glenferrie Road. Operating with authenticity, integrity and hard work, these are two risk takers who are making their dreams into a reality. After taking the big risk to quit their 9-5, they are now making the most delicious waffles we’ve ever tasted. We talk to them about their process of opening their business, the need to ‘just do something’, having integrity, and of course, waffles!
So, why waffles?
There are different types of waffles around the world. There is an American which is a batter base and there are a lot of things on it, there’s chocolate, ice-cream, you can imagine that. You have your Asian pancake or waffle, which is an egg batter base, very rich. But they use pork fat. Which can make the batter really tasteful, but it’s not healthy.
So we have; Europe waffle, Belgium French waffle, which is made of yeast and dough. We thought it’s something different, we could do that. We started doing research, and we found out that this product isn’t that popular in Melbourne but it’s really popular in down in Asia, Japan, Europe and America. So that’s why we thought there’s a gap in here, let’s give it a go. So that’s how the journey starts.
Can you explain to us the process of the waffle making? It sounds quite difficult
It’s quite intense. From cereal to a dough, I would say it’s around 4-6, 7 hours.
Pretty much daily. From dough to the waffle, we put it overnight so the flavours actually get into the dough. And then that takes a couple of hours again. Baking is quick, 3 minutes it’s done, but all the prep work before takes a long time. So everyone is eating a waffle thinking hey, ‘you don’t have a certain flavour, can you make some right now?’ Okay, we can…but unfortunately, 60 minutes. So because of this, we do all the prep work before the actual waffle.
Was it a difficult decision to start a waffle shop?
Yes, it was a very difficult decision, first David is an accredited accountant and his wife as well. Myself, I actually worked for corporate, for telephone, automotive and construction for 12 years. So quitting the job and deciding to open up something ourselves, was kind of a hard decision.
But we all thought that we are in our 30…ish age, so if we don’t do something, I doubt that we are going to do it, or try anything. Because once we have kids and family, once we’re set up, once we have mortgage and are tied down ourselves, it’s hard to give up everything and try do it again. So we thought, it’s about time, okay, let’s do something.
We look at alot of other options, being an Asian, *laughter* we were looking at Chinese resturants. Funny thing is, we’re actually not a big fan of those types of resturants. We thought about dumplings before, but none of us could do it. *more laughter* No point doing something that we can’t do. There’s a theory behind us, regarding opening a waffle store, it was because we both love waffles.
You have a beautiful shop! How long did it take you to set up?
From planning to opening, 9 months, we both quit our jobs.
Was it difficult leaving your jobs?
Yes it is!
Kevin used to actually live in Sydney
He actually relocated with his wife as well.
For the business?
There’s a lot of commitment in here, we both quit our jobs. And while in between I got married and now’s there’s a kid coming. So it’s a totally different story, everything happen at the same time. So there is a lot of risk in here, so we’re willing to take the risk.
So 9 months.
We want to do something. What’s the worst to us. Well, if it doesn’t work out we go back to the old job, or we find a new job. But at least we tried, Same as what we said before, you need to try something.
What have you learnt in your journey so far?
For small businesses all you need is flexibility.
Initally we were not suppling ice-cream at all. Now we supply icecream. Initally in overseas and Australia, we want to make the waffles like bread, something that you can eat it all day. Most people don’t recognise it being a savoury food. As a small business it needs to be flexible. Which is an advantage and disadvantage.
How have you found it personally rewarding?
Just like this morning, there’s a little girl who came in eating a waffle, she’s our loyal customer. Every time we see there’s a loyal customers come through, you smile. There’s a customer working opposite the road, we don’t do icecream take aways, she actually takes two plates to our shop and asks “can I have ice-cream”. That makes your day. Like the lady, the old lady that came here before. She will be drinking one cup of coffee around every week, to me if we can make a small help to her we will do it. If she asks for a strong latte, we only charge her a single shot. And all the tips jar, we never keep it. it all goes to charity. Yes, we are not making money in here yet, but at the same time we want to be a good business. We up hold our integrity.
In the future, how do you see your business? Do you see chains?
Ahh okay, everyone has a dream I guess. We were looking at, manikein in Japan. Which is kind of our concept. We want to open in a place that a lot of people can access without a car so at a train station, it’s there. So you can have it on the way to work, after work. We want something that can fit into people’s lives. not just, I want a waffle today, I’ll drive to this place to have it.
So we want to be approachable, that’s why our prices are quite low, compared to other ones. We want to bring joy to kids and thats why we want to be approachable, family friendly and easy to get access to.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue their dreams, but are afraid of leaving their 9-5?
If you want to try do something. Do it. But, one thing that you will find, instead of the ten hours, 9 hours sleep you have a day. That will drop into half, or maybe even less, that is what you sacrifice. So don’t expect the business to pick up straight away. once you start. you will be expecting a couple of months or even a year of no income. So if you h
ave that prepared, you’re good to go. And what’s the worst that you can lose, just a year. You guys are young. Do it.
VANESSA BONG – Founder & Content Executive
Vess is a writer, graphic designer, illustrator and creative director based in Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about design, art, fashion and story telling. She has worked with a number of well known clients including the Melbourne Zoo, Kelly Thompson Illustrations and currently holds a position at SMASH enterprises as a junior designer. Website / Instagram
VALERIE BONG – Founder & Content Executive
Val is an Arts/Commerce student currently based in Melbourne. As a photographer and documenter she loves celebrating the beauty of the world. With her love for capturing special moments she specialises in fashion, wedding, family and event photography.
THE PEOPLE’S WAFFLE –Hawthorn
Lovingly baked on site everyday, no added preservatives, no nasty ingredients, The People’s Waffle will be your next favourite late night hangout. Open 10am – 10pm, this is definitely a place for that sneaky sugar fix or daily snack! Website / Facebook / Instagram / Urban Spoon