7 months ago

Waffle Up: A bistro trendsetter

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There is no denying the taste and cravings for waffles. Waffle is a favourite among sweet tooths, thanks to qualities including flavours, textures and toppings. Though the dessert has been around for a while, its rise in popularity in Bangladesh is a recent story.

The origin can be traced back to Belgium. Street vendors outside churches first started making 'Belgian waffles' in the Middle Ages and selling them as rich, crispy street snacks. The dessert spread throughout the world, giving rise to other variations. The reasons are simple - it's easy to make, can be prepared in no time, and tastes good above all.

Grabbing those views, Waffle Up emerged during the winter last year to rock the country's street food scene with waffles. In no time, it became the town's sensation for bringing waffles to the streets, within reach of a much larger customer base. 

Street food in the form of crunchy and chocolaty waffles, which you can have on the go, is a popular demand among street food and dessert lovers. The waffles, similar to cacksicles (a kind of cake pops) because of the ice cream sticks, smell heavenly. Since Waffle Up brought the idea to Bangladeshi streets, foodies from around the capital city visit the food shop, and the strong and mouth-watering sweet smell of waffles continues to flood the streets of Banani road 13 till 2 am at night. 

Mohammed Salman, the founder of Waffle Up and Tree House, made his restaurant stand out by telling his customers about what's delicious, exciting, and otherwise unavailable and offering them what they want. 

Being a trendsetter requires a thorough understanding of the target market and what is popular in the zeitgeist, which Mohammed Salman has done with his skills as a restauranteur. In a conversation with this writer, who herself is a regular customer of Waffle Up, the young entrepreneur talked about the inspirations that led him to establish Waffle Up.

"I realised that if I bring bite-sized waffles, a person can try four different waffles at a go. I am always backpacking around; hence I have seen how street food works abroad. In some countries, steak is sold as street food as well." 

"I also run a startup so I understand the concept of the scalable brand. I wanted a brand that becomes boundary-less. There is a gap in innovation which I wanted to fill," Salman further explained.

The food market is a dynamic one, and it keeps changing constantly. However, Salman sounded like a man with a plan as he shared his thoughts.

"We always knew that many other brands might follow after Waffle Up, but I also feel that this will make our position in the market. The recipe is only known to my partner and me. Also, the awareness is low in the market." 

Aiming for a larger goal rather than just profitability, he added, "We are trying to create awareness and also, we plan to go global after making it big locally. I am not really bothered about the competition because my price point is low." 

Like a creative thinker, Salman knows the importance of innovation and keeps integrating new ideas to make the customers feel fresh every time they eat waffles there.

"Our Banani outlet is in constant renovation," he continued while giving good news for other foddy areas in the city, "we have recently confirmed a branch in Dhanmondi. We are already available in 100 feet and looking for places in Mirpur and other areas." 

"I will not go for full dining because of the concept of Waffle Up. In fact, I wanted to start Waffle Up when I inaugurated Tree House," Salman told the scribe when asked about a full-scale dine-in. 

"The Food industry is competitive and changing. However, I believe we can make food affordable and still stand out. Usually, founders refuse to get out of their comfort zone and take risks." 

Apart from the tasty waffles, there are other things that attract the customers - the location, decoration, ambience and all.

"I think it's everything altogether. We are open till 2 am in Banani. From kids to senior citizens, everyone enjoys our waffles. The colourful packaging, the pink neon outlet, and street food concept seal the deal." 

"We have received positive responses from everyone, and our old clients keep on coming back. Also, one thing, no matter how much I make the packaging and outlet attractive, the main attraction will always be the food," he concluded. 

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