With the goal of creating a fun, family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot for the community he loves, Bellevue Club member Paul Ross opened The Waffler—where the breakfast food reins king. Using creative combinations like fried chicken and waffles and chorizo waffles, he says he’s found his sweet spot on the Eastside.
Reflections magazine: Have you always loved cooking?
Paul Ross: Absolutely. I grew up cooking. I’m from an Italian family from New York. I was born on Staten Island, and my family was cooking around the clock. My grandpa was a master with pizza.
PR: I knew I wanted to do just breakfast and lunch, but I was trying to think of something unique. Then one day I wanted a sandwich and didn’t have any bread, but I had waffle mix from the day before. And it was really good. I thought, Let me see what else I can do with that. I started trying different toppings and flavor profiles. I used the waffle as a feature to build around, and it became the menu. It evolved from there.
RM: What else was important to you when starting your restaurant?
PR: I wanted to emphasize fresh and local ingredients in a neighborhood kid-friendly place.
RM: What’s the key to making the perfect waffle?
PR: To make sure the batter is cold, consistent and thick. I like keeping the batter really cold, and we use a good amount of butter. Also, we make thinner waffles because they cook up crispier.
RM: What’s your waffle of choice?
PR: My favorite is the fried chicken waffle. We use Draper Valley chicken, and we cut and fry them ourselves.
RM: With football season in full swing, do you recommend waffles with Seahawks games?
PR: Yeah, we tried that a few times. We figured out waffles with ice cream was pretty good for watching football. The kids love it.
RM: What’s in store for you and The Waffler?
PR: More locations, definitely. I’d also love to have a food truck and some catering to do business lunches. We’ve already got the kitchen, the staff and social media presence, but we need to start small and perfect everything and then get bigger. I really want the focus to stay on the quality. I’m really proud of our open kitchen and that all the waffles are made to order. We don’t have a microwave and didn’t even have a freezer until we started selling ice cream. We want to make sure we’re staying true to who we are.
RM: Any advice for others thinking about opening a restaurant?
PR: Have the ultimate patience. We got pretty lucky with some things, but it can be a really long process.
For more information, please visit thewaffler.com.