North Texas Daily

Waffle wagon still rolling and serving community

Waffle wagon still rolling and serving community

Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

Waffle wagon still rolling and serving community
March 18
00:57 2014

Javier Navarro // Staff Writer

Childhood dreams never fade, at least for Rachel Black, as her dream was to open her very own café.

This past summer, she decided to venture into the culinary business – a plan in the making for a number of years.

“Each year I was always like ‘maybe next year,’” Black said. “It’s kind of crazy. One day I just woke up and said ‘today’s the day I’m doing it.’”

Black opened The Waffle Wagon food truck in January of this year and has served customers a variety of different waffle combinations. While not a café, Black said operating a food truck is a good start to understanding how running a business works.

She added that the food truck industry has given her a sense of community, which is important to her.

“When I go to a food truck park, to me it’s a community,” Black said. “With all the people and the other food truck owners themselves, I just love that connection.”

The Waffle Wagon offers customers up to seven different choices. Those include the chicken and waffle dish and the hot turkey, which is ham and melted Swiss cheese sandwich on a waffle with a side of raspberry reserves. Finally, the dessert waffle is topped with peanut butter, bacon and bananas.

They range between $4 and $8, with the plain waffle dashed with sugar being the cheapest and the chicken and waffles dish being the most expensive.

Black said the customer favorite is chicken and waffles, though she said her favorite is the hot turkey, ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on a waffle meal.

“I always tell people it’s underrated,” Black said. “When people get it, they say that’s their favorite.”

Waffle Wagon

Getting the wagon rolling

The idea of starting a waffle business struck Black when she was at a crowded restaurant that was serving a specialty brunch. The specialty was waffles, and seeing how much people enjoyed them at that time of day inspired Black.

“Everyone loves brunch but not everyone can get it on a Sunday,” Black said. “I feel like with a food truck, people can have brunch any day.”

Black was also yearning for a career change.  Black worked at an information technology job with the Navy for more than 10 years and wanted a shift in scenery.

“[I was] behind a computer a lot and I wanted to do something more fun,” Black said. “[Running a food truck] is so different.”

Last August, she finally made the switch. When Black told her family she was opening a food truck, her sister, Katie Vaughan, said the family supported her all the way.

“I knew this was something she wanted to do and I supported her 100 percent,” Vaughan said. “I was most surprised when she told our parents. I thought our parents would be a little hesitant, but everybody has jumped on board with her.”

Black purchased an empty truck and went to Houston to have the truck custom built. The process was supposed to take six weeks, but instead took four months, delaying the opening of her business. Black declined to disclose how much the truck’s makeover cost.

While the truck was being built, Black was trying out different waffle combinations and had her family taste-test them. Vaughan said she ate so many waffles that she eventually grew tired of them.

“You know, there’s just so many waffles that you can eat and taste-test,” Vaughan said. “But we definitely gave a lot of feedback.’”

Running the business

With the business now in operation, Vaughan said she usually helps out and works in the food truck from time to time. Vaughan said she normally takes customers’ orders or makes waffles.

Finding help can be hard at times for Black. She said one stable employee and her brother-in-law provide the bulk of the help. There was even an occasion where Black was short-handed and had someone she just met help her out.

Black also said making the waffles takes a great deal of work to prepare.

“People probably don’t think that [making waffles] involves things like a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk,” Black said. “It’s more than just Bisquick.”

Nathan Wallace has worked at the food truck for about a month and described the environment as “fun” and “laid-back,” even if it is occasionally stressful.

“At night here, it can be especially stressful,” Wallace said. “The orders just pile up and it can get very busy.”

Wallace said the truck has taken 15 orders at once on one occasion.

Though it can be busy, both Vaughan and Wallace said orders usually take about three to five minutes to prepare. As far as business, Black said she usually makes the money she spends every month for the business back from sales.

Business still rolling

On a Friday night outside of East Side Social Club, Black and her staff prepared the kitchen for a 7 p.m. opening. Black said she makes her own schedule, deciding the time and location of the truck from week to week. The truck will be a part of the soon-to-open Austin St. Truck Stop, a food truck park near East Side.

Recently on The Waffle Wagon Facebook page, a picture of Rachel Black with her arm in a sling was posted and said that it may be a few weeks until The Waffle Wagon is “back on the streets.”

Two months since its opening, the Waffle Wagon has seen plenty of customers and has gotten a great reception, Black said. She can only recall a few days that business was “disappointing.”

Customer Lindsay Lilly has eaten at the Waffle Wagon since it opened. She said she has been there five other times and has recommended it to friends.

photo 5

“It’s unique and different,” Lilly said. “I’ve tried a lot of the food trucks in Denton and there’s lots of great ones, but Waffle Wagon is one of the best.”

Black said she has enjoyed running the business and being surrounded by other food truck owners.

“Everybody is so cool and it’s such a relaxed group of people,” Black said.

Black wants to run the truck for another three years and eventually open a brick and mortar restaurant. Black also said she is glad the reception to her business has been positive.

“It’s so scary. You open the food truck for the first time and you’re like ‘Please everyone come’ because you’re so nervous,” Black said. “But I think it’s taken off much better than I ever thought.”

Center photo: Chicken and waffles with a side of syrup from the Waffle Wagon. Photo by William Darnell / Editor-in-Chief 

Bottom photo: Lindsay Lilly (left) receives her meal from Rachel Black (right) at the Waffle Wagon parked outside of East Side Social Club on Oak Street on Feb. 7. Photo by Javier Navarro / Staff Writer

Feature photo: Rachel Black opened the Waffle Wagon food truck on Jan. 11. The Waffle Wagon serves burgers, BLT’s, hot ham and turkey and fried chicken on a waffle with syrup. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer 

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