ITHACA, N.Y. –– Waffle Frolic, an Ithaca-based waffle restaurant located on the Commons, has officially unveiled its food truck on the West End –– expanding the business to serve additional lunchtime customers. The trailer-style portable waffle truck is located alongside On the Street Pita and other lunch proprietors on the lot next to the Jewelbox.
Waffle Frolic has been an Ithaca favorite since 2010, when founder Alexis Randall debuted the restaurant shortly after graduating college. In 2018, Randall sold Waffle Frolic to its current owners, Dmitry and Brittany Serebryany.
“She put in a lot of effort, and she was ready to move on to something else,” Dmitry said, “so she was ready to sell the business and we just happened to fall in line with being interested in it. It just happened to all kind of fall into place the way it did, and so we are now, three years strong, the owners of the business.”
Now onto the next chapter in its history, Waffle Frolic now has a mobile capability to bring waffles to folks across Ithaca and Tompkins County. However, for the time being despite its mobility, the mobile waffle unit will be located in The Jewelbox’s parking lot for the foreseeable future. Dmitry said Waffle Frolic was committed to operating out of that location, a commitment he intends to honor, but did not specify how long they would stay there.
Brittany described Waffle Frolic as a decent success, but that the kitchen is small, so having a food trailer would result in some customers being diverted to the second location and easing the burden on the restaurant. She said running a food trailer grants its owners more freedom compared to running a restaurant, which she said has less flexibility in changing its days, hours or menu.
“If we wanted to, we could move it or change our hours more easily, we could customize what we want to do,” she said. “If an item sells out for the day, that’s fine, too. That’s where the freedom comes of having a food truck.”
Currently, that freedom is limited by practical considerations, such as the labor shortage affecting restaurants. At the moment, only Brittany and Dmitry, along with one or two other staffers, run the food trailer, and to them, the restaurant, with a staff of 17 besides the couple, is a higher priority. Because of the staff shortage, the trailer will be open based on staff availability.
The West End spot is tentatively open Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., though that is subject to change based on staff availability.
The food trailer’s menu is also different from the restaurant, since it is not feasible to store all the ingredients necessary for every item on the restaurant’s menu due to the amount of storage space required for a restaurant of Waffle Frolic’s size. Nevertheless, Dmitry said he is confident in the quality of his product.
“We pride ourselves on the quality of our food,” Dmitry said. “Almost everything on our menu is made from scratch, and that’s, I think, the biggest thing. We fell in love with the restaurant before we purchased it.”
Brittany said the Jewelbox’s parking lot works well because it has free parking across the street which would be beneficial for people who found it difficult to park on the Commons. According to her, there are not many specialized coffee spots in the part of Ithaca where the food trailer is located, and said she hoped to fill that niche by providing morning coffee to people who work in the area.
“There’s a lot of businesses that want their coffee in the morning,” Brittany said, “so I think we’re going to be a great addition to that area.”
Dmitry is not expecting much financial gain from the food trailer, but hopes to build his brand and increase his presence in the community. He is considering establishing a second, smaller, food trailer depending on how the first one fares.
“We know we have a pretty strong following and consistency in the customers that we do get,” Dmitry said, “Hopefully they’ll be interested enough to want to go out and try to see what else we’re offering.”