Press Waffle Co. is the brainchild of brothers Caleb and Brian Lewis, who wanted to introduce American taste buds to authentic Belgian-style waffles. Like a lot of American food, waffles are also limited to over-processed mass-manufactured iterations that come out of a box. The brothers discovered freshly made waffles on their European trip, where they would serve them in every small roadside café.
Upon returning to the US, the brothers realized they could not find the waffles they had in Europe anywhere in their country. This realization led to the inception of Press Waffle Co., an eatery solely dedicated to the art of freshly made waffles.
The business tapped into a market with a lot of demand as the company continues to thrive and is opening locations across the American South. Starting with a food truck, they moved to upscale food hall locations and now have a bustling franchise program, making the company a nationwide name.
The Lewis Brothers always maintained that they wanted their business to maintain longevity. A look at their franchise programs and new locations scheduled to open shows that they have achieved this goal. Serving delightful waffle concoctions, the business is a massive success story to come out of Shark Tank.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
The Brothers entered their Shark Tank Pitch with the Sharks already intrigued by the massive dessert spread they had set up for the demonstration. The brothers were calm and assured in their business valuation and communicated that confidence to the Sharks. They asked for $200,000 in exchange for 8% of their business.
The duo outlined the main idea behind their business: to serve freshly made authentic Belgian waffles to the American public. They wanted to elevate the waffle from convenient to-go breakfast food to an entire experience. Their eatery provided that experience by including the option for customization. The customers would choose between multiple dessert toppings such as fresh fruit, cookie butter, ice cream, etc. They could even select savory options such as chicken and waffles.
The brothers handed out freshly made waffles to the Sharks as a demonstration. A taste test completely sold the Sharks on the product as they looked borderline giddy eating the waffles. The brothers admitted that their product was indulgent, thus, not necessarily targeted toward health-conscious people.
After being convinced by the products, the Sharks began to discuss numbers, and the brothers confidently handled all the questions thrown their way. The duo revealed that they had done around $900,000 in sales last year. These numbers come up to about $5000 per square foot, an impressive metric for restaurants. The Sharks were visibly impressed with the sales. The brothers’ setup in food halls also helped in the pitch as those charged rents in accordance with sales. A food hall would take around 15-25% of the business’s revenue as rent. This arrangement was very lucrative, and the brothers were looking for investment to expand to other food halls across the American South.
The Sharks were impressed with the sales as much as the product, and a bidding war began among them. Mark Cuban expressed that an 8% stake was too less; he offered $350,000 for 20% of the company.
Barbara Corcoran cited the success of another restaurant called Cousin’s Maine Lobster that she was overseeing. After establishing her experience, she made two offers to the brothers. $200,000 for 15% or $400,000 for 30% of the company.
Kevin O’Leary thought the brothers would be foolish to part with 30% of their company and offered them a differently structured deal. He offered them a loan of $200,000 with an interest rate of 7-11% for 3% equity. He even threw in an offer to finance additional costs.
Lori Greiner thought O’Leary’s offer was excellent and backed out of making an offer because she could not better it.
Robert Herjavec put forth an open-ended deal offering the brother $600,000 in exchange for their choice of equity. The brothers were unwilling to part with more than 20% of the business, for Herjavec revised his offer to $400,000 for 20%.
The brothers were now left with a dilemma with all these offers on the table. They emphasized that their goal was the longevity of their business. They asked Corcoran if she would be willing to do $300,000 for 15%. After a back and forth, Corcoran accepted the terms, and the brothers left the pitch with the deal they were looking for.
Our Review of Press Waffle Co.
Press Waffle Co. is a culinary experience that combines America’s penchant for excess with European cuisine that leans toward fresh ingredients. The combination has led to gourmet desserts that are excellent in quality. There are, however, a few issues that could be ironed out, just like the waffles.
Pros of Press Waffle Co.
- Different toppings are available for customization. The eatery offers a range of 16 different toppings right now to make the waffle of your choice.
- Savory options are Waffles are not limited to dessert options only.
- Dessert drinks such as milkshakes are also available.
- Waffles are made right after your order; therefore, freshness is not compromised.
- Large portions
Cons of Press Waffle Co.
- Customers complained of service issues
- Incredibly high caloric count
- No mention of allergens
The business could probably benefit from introducing a range of waffles for people with different dietary preferences to increase their market further.
Who Is It For?
Press Waffle Co.’s main attraction is decadent dessert waffles. Their primary consumers are people with sweet tooth. People who enjoy desserts and are looking for an indulgent treat, or even children who are craving sugar, are all the target audience for Press Waffle Co. Their savory options expand their audience a bit; therefore, people who enjoy experimental food such as the mix of sweet and savory are all also the demographic for Press Waffle Co.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Many restaurants and diners offer waffles on their menus. Therefore, they can be thought of as alternatives. There are, however, not many waffle-only establishments. This sets apart Press Waffle Co. and makes it unique, especially in Texas and adjoining areas.
Press Waffle Co. is an excellent introduction to the US gastronomical scene. It takes the best elements from European food culture and introduces them to American taste buds. The shift from processed food to freshly made will expand the customer base in the future. It is an option that people will turn to once they are tired of over-processed food.