We've seen grilled cheese sandwiches fused together and made crispy in waffle irons, waffles made with bacon right in the batter, and we've seen mistyped menus declaring "Belgium waffles" available at brunch, but an establishment with a food lineup composed entirely of waffles? That might be a new one.
Black Coffee and Waffle Bar, the former Muddsuckers on 15th and Como Avenue near the U of M campus, has been re-branded, re-vamped, and is now reopened. Owners Lisa and Andrew Ply gave the cluttered space a make-under, with a streamlined menu of Dogwood Coffee drinks, pastries from A Baker's Wife (they don't deliver so the Plys pick up before opening each day), and more than half a dozen sweet, savory, very substantial waffles.
The couple took the space over nearly four years ago, but found that change came slowly.
"There was definitely a learning curve for us," says Andrew Ply. "I didn't know that much about the third-wave coffee thing. To be honest, I was a Caribou and Starbucks kind of guy before we got into this whole world. We took our time doing research to see what worked at other shops."
The waffles are a bit of a holdover from Muddsuckers, which served them in addition to a number of soups, salads, and sandwiches.
"It wasn't up to the standard of the kind of food we really wanted to have. We were using Krusteaz waffle mix back then," says Ply. "By simplifying everything, we could really focus on doing one thing well instead of dividing our concentration all over the place."
Now they're making their own buttermilk batter and topping the crispy, springy waffles with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and graham cracker crumbles for a S'mores waffle or layering on almond butter, berries, bananas, whipped cream, and granola as in the Naughty (pictured above). They're currently doing only one savory waffle -- the One Bad Pig -- topped with Swiss cheese and sliced ham from Ready Meats in NE Minneapolis. But Lisa Ply says she has plans to play around with other varieties.
Aside from just wanting to put their own stamp on the business, the Plys also hope that this stripped-down concept and emphasis on high-quality and locally sourced ingredients will help them attract a wider customer base.
"During the school year, students are definitely our bread and butter," Andrew admits. "But we want to be known as more than just a college hangout or 'that place by Obento-Ya.' We want to be a real part of the community and for everyone to feel welcome here."
Black Coffee & Waffle Bar
1500 Como Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily