It may have seemed an unlikely time to open a new restaurant, but the second location of Waffles on Maple quietly opened for business just prior to Passover. Holding kosher certification meant that no sooner had it opened, then it was time to close in observance of the eight-day Passover holiday. All kosher restaurants must close for Jewish holidays including the weekly Shabbat holiday.
But that’s all part of the business plan and the model intended for the restaurant by owner Rotem Dahan.
Dahan had opened his first Waffles on Maple Uptown in April of 2014 just prior to Passover of that year. The original location on Maples Street in the shadow of the Tulane campus, features sweet and savory varieties of waffles. That location is Cholov Yisroel (“milk of an Israelite”)and Pat Yisroel (“bread of an Israelite”), signifying that an observant Jew has supervised the kosher observance for the restaurant. When Waffles on Maple opened it was the first and only commercial kosher dairy kitchen in the region.
Now, the second, expanded location in Metairie at 4650 West Esplanade Avenue South, means that there will be double that number. However, the new location will have some differences.
“We’ve developed more waffles,” he explained in an exclusive interview with the CCJN. “The concept got bigger and the feedback that we get from the people is good. We always come up with new waffles.”
Two of his newest creations are the “Pretty in Pink” and “Blues Brothers” varieties, each bearing food coloring to make the dining experience more playful and fun.
“We also started developing lunch menus over here and dinner menus,” he continued. In addition to the usual 10-inch size pizzas sold at the Uptown location, the Metairie location also offers 12-inch varieties.
“Here we’ve got fried food. We’ve got cheese fries. We’ve got fried fish,” Dahan reported. They also are offering lunch specials like wraps with chicken, tuna salad and spicy tuna salad or a seared salmon steak with pasta swimming in a thick and creamy sauce.
“Here it’s not Cholov Yisroel. It’s not Pat Yisroel, so I have more to play with the products that I‘m buying,” he said. “I have more choices.”
While the level of kashrut is not as high at the newest location, it still bears certification from the Louisiana Kashrus Committee headed by Rabbi Yossie Nemes.
The new restaurant is operating at capacity every Sunday, the most popular day of the week. “So far it is right on track,” the happy owner admitted.
Dahan owns the strip mall in which the restaurant is located. He first built out the six spots in the mall and had leased space to a chiropractic clinic and a nail salon before he began to build the restaurant. The sign went up over a year ago, but the actual build only took four months, he noted.
“It took us a year to get going,” he stated in referring to the Uptown location. “And every year it keeps growing and growing. Dahan expects the new location to have a similar growth pattern.
“Ninety percent of our customers are non-Jews,” he advanced. Still, he said, it was important to him to ensure that his restaurant was kosher.
An Israeli born to parents of Morrocan heritage, Dahan considers this important. “It is kosher because I want it to be kosher,” he confessed. “Over here it may be as much as 95% (are non-Jewish).”
Dahan has also begun offering gluten free waffles and other items that he bakes. The recipes are often made by his wife, whose specialty baking includes special gluten-free king cakes offered at Carnival time.
The Dahans began to experiment with gluten-free products after the discovery that one of their children required it. “I’m really thinking about offering the gluten-free waffles in the supermarkets,” he said. An investor has already offered the financial backing to do so, but Dahan has elected to take that option slowly. “Maybe down the road it will be an option. It’s a Belgian waffle.”
Cheesecakes are also baked on a daily basis in Metairie. Cake items baked Uptown can be shipped to the Metairie location because of its Cholov Yisroel and Pat Yisroel designations. The baked goods at Metairie, however, cannot be sent Uptown.
The new location also offers increased seating capacity of up to 100 patrons. There are eight double-sided waffle makers that can roll out 16 waffles at a time every three minutes.
In addition to an expanded menu, the staff at the Waffles on Maple Metairie location also offers a number of freshly-ground coffee items made with a medium “Conquistador’ roast of 100% Puerto Rican coffee. Coffee is sold by the bag as beans or ground.
His staff also makes its own praulines at both locations after determining. “We started making our own.
“We’re going to expand. I’m going to probably open up two more locations,” the businessman revealed. “I’m already franchising everything.”
He has received inquiries from Europe and across the country from interested parties. The name will stay, though. “People don’t know what it means. You think they know it’s on Maple Street?” Dahan asked. “Instead of maple on waffles, it’s Waffles on Maple.”
At any event it’s a sweet and savory proposition, now available in an expanded location in Metairie as well as Uptown.
Hours of the newest Waffles on Maple, 4650 West Esplanade Avenue South are 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Friday hours are 7:00 a.m.. – 3:00 p.m. and closed on Saturdays and religious holidays.