Smash Waffles, the popular Greenville-based waffle delivery service, has announced that its first brick-and-mortar location in the Triangle will be across from N.C. State University.
Smash Waffles will open at 2304 Hillsborough St. this fall on the first floor of a new six-story building, a few doors down from Insomnia Cookies and Bruegger’s Bagels.
Smash Waffles, owned by Justin Cox and Hunter Harrison, launched in Greenville in December and quickly earned a following. Since March, they have been selling their scratch-made waffles out of Pizza La Stella on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh.
Harrison said he hopes to open the new Raleigh location by September or October.
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“We felt being across the street or as close to N.C. State as possible, it’s really the market we wanted to appeal to,” said Harrison, 34. “That’s what we’ve done in Greenville. The Raleigh store is really our prototype.”
In addition to waffles being delivered, they have been a key part of a new brunch service launched at Pizza La Stella this spring. Pizza La Stella owner Rudy Theale formed a partnership with the Smash Waffles owners to help their business grow.
The Smash Cafe is opening in Greenville in late July. It is informally known as the “Smash Lab,” with a production facility in the back of the shop for deliveries and a test counter in front for counter sales.
The Raleigh location will have seating and a more expansive menu with savory waffles, coffee from local roasters, “woffles” for dogs and waffle sandwiches.
The waffles, with a recipe developed by Cox, are doughnut-sized and can be eaten by hand. There are flavors like “The O.G.” (signature waffle with honey and cinnamon cream sauce), The Campfire (think Nutella s’mores) and the Cereal Thriller, with a different cereal each day.
“A lot of people still think waffles are breakfast items,” Harrison said. “We hope to change the perspective here.”
Both Harrison and Cox had other jobs before creating Smash Waffles. Cox was in banking for 10 years. Harrison ran a social media content agency. They started the waffle business as a test. Within two weeks, they left their jobs to pursue Smash Waffles full time.
Harrison said he can’t pinpoint why the waffles proved to be so popular. He calls it a “perfect storm.” The product was tasty, for starters, he says, thanks to Cox tinkering with the recipe to perfect it.
“Just out of nowhere, I knew about a waffle that doesn’t get soggy where it could be delivered like a doughnut or a bagel,” Cox said.
The branding, with users photographing their waffles and tagging it with a “smashtag,” also helped.
“The newness of getting something like that delivered to you,” he said. “All that came together to be a shareable brand.”
Their business backgrounds have informed their growth plan. They knew deliveries could only be sustained for so long and that eventually they would want to have retail sales.
They decided not to pursue a food truck, though they have built a Smash Shack to take to events.
As a result, the company has attracted national attention with the hopes of adding more cafes. But they want to make sure growth is handled wisely, the owners said.
“We’re trying to be the next big thing, as competing with the cookie and the doughnut,” said Cox, 29. “When Hunter and I got together, we wanted to disrupt an industry.”
Info: 2304 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. smashwaffles.com, facebook.com/SmashWaffles, instagram.com/smashraleigh/