Despite the recent closure of a number of local shops in the area, one Ann Arbor native is returning to his hometown in hopes of finding success in his quest to expand he city’s culinary offerings.
Noah Goldsmith recently announced that he plans to open a new eatery focusing on specialty waffles at 217 S. Fourth Ave. in April. The restaurant, to be called Wafel Shop, will be established in the former location of A2 O’Hair salon.
Goldsmith wrote in an e-mail interview that the menu was inspired largely by his study abroad experience in the Netherlands. Along with his business partner Rob Daly, Goldsmith constructed the menu primarily around two varieties of waffles — the Brussels and the Liege.
The Brussels waffle has “a soft and fluffy interior, and a crispy exterior,” and the Liege waffle, Goldsmith’s favorite, is “dense and sweet, baked with chunks of pearl sugar that caramelize throughout,” he wrote.
The design of the new space will utilize preexisting architectural elements, including the building’s original tin ceilings and wood floor, according to architect Bill Smith of Kraemer Design Group.
“The space as it is right now has a lot of character to it … it’s a small little storefront but it’s got a lot of character already,” Smith said. “What we’re trying to do is work with that. We’re not trying to hide it or compete with it. The space itself can be really beautiful.”
Goldsmith added that he hopes the shop will become a unique mainstay in the community.
“It’s the simplicity of the Wafel Shop that will set the restaurant apart from its many competitors,” Goldsmith wrote.
The shop will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Goldsmith wrote that he hopes the flexible hours will inspire costumers to come for waffles at all times of the day, not just in the morning.
“We’re not trying to be all things to all people — we want to produce one item better than anyone else. We also don’t see The Shop as serving only breakfast — you could eat a Wafel as a meal or a snack any time of the day,” he wrote.
Despite the Wafel Shop’s sweet offerings and convenient hours, nearby restaurants said they aren’t worried that the new restaurant will negatively impact their breakfast business.
Tom Hackett, owner of Afternoon Delight on East Liberty Street located right around the corner from the new shop, said he does not anticipate Wafel Shop to pose a threat.
“It won’t affect our business,” Hackett said. “It’s just another restaurant coming to town. We’ve got plenty of them.”
Afternoon Delight began closing at 3 p.m. approximately 10 years ago, and Hackett said he doesn’t foresee the restaurant hours changing even with Wafel Shop now offering late night fare for customers.
According to Steve Vangelatos, owner of Angelo’s Restaurant on East Catherine Street, Wafel Shop is located too far from away from his business for it to experience a negative impact.
He said Angelo’s won’t be as greatly affected as downtown restaurants due to its “isolated” location, adding that the two businesses will likely experience different clientele.
“(We primarily serve) University people and people that drive here,” Vangelatos said. “I can’t imagine (Wafel Shop) is going to affect us.”
Wafel Shop’s longer hours also do not seem to be a concern for Vangelatos. Like Afternoon Delight, Angelo’s was previously open late into the evening many years ago, but the long days meant Angelo’s staff had little time for family life.
After its time change, Vangelatos said Angelo’s became one of the first breakfast places of its kind in Ann Arbor and he doesn’t think the business model will ever change.
“It’s just something I don’t think we’re ever going to do. We’re busy enough when we’re open,” he explained.
While other local businesses may not be worried about the effect, students, including LSA senior Rae Underwood, said they are looking forward to the opening of the shop.
“(Waffles) are a very good dessert. I would make them for dessert in the dining hall a lot,” Underwood said.
Underwood added that she believes the new restaurant will be successful downtown.
“Ann Arbor is very into different foods,” she said.