Local Business

Wannawaf opens second store in Portland

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 8:00am

Wannawaf will be serving up its decadent ice cream confections wrapped in warm waffles in Portland when a second store opens at 15 Monument Square.

Owner Anya “Waffle Girl” Arsenault is planning on a June 28 Grand Opening. The Portland location will be open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (initially), and Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m.

Demolition began May 22. “I can't wait until the demo is over and we're set up so I can get in the kitchen, start experimenting and finalize the menu,” Arsenault said. “Everything will be made from scratch just as it is in Boothbay Harbor.

But, there will be a few differences between the two locations. Because Arsenault will have more space in Portland, she is expanding the waffle selection to include gluten-free and falafel variations.

The falafel waffles are made from garbanzo beans and will be served with tzatziki, a savory Greek sauce made of yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, garlic and fresh dill.

Instead of hot dogs, new recipes baked in a waffle will include Black Forest ham and Brie and fried popcorn chicken topped with gravy or maple syrup.

A build-your-own-breakfast waffle bar will provide all the makings for the creative, hands-on customers.

“The Wannawaf stores are really colorful, have good food and music,” Arsenault said. “I love to cook, I love food, and the more butter, the better.”

The décor will be just as colorful as the original Wannawaf, but more in keeping with a 1940s kitchen, flavored with flirty pinup girl art that will be “classy not trashy,” according to Arsenault.

Arsenault's entrepreneurial spirit was evident from a young age. As a young girl she set herself up with a small cash register in her family's garage and sold all her Barbie dolls. “(I) love the transaction,” she said.

While working for her uncle Tony Heyl at his jewelry store A Silver Lining, Arsenault, then Anya Heyl, talked of starting her own business. “Uncle Tony said I should rent the space under Andrews' Harborside from Craig (Andrews) and do waffle ice cream sandwiches like they did at Coney Island,” Arsenault said. “I thought, I could do that, but I would make stuff from scratch.”

The same afternoon Arsenault and Heyl had that conversation, Andrews walked into the A Silver Lining. She asked him if he would rent the space to here; he said no.

But a few days later, Arsenault said Andrews came back to the store to see if she was serious, and the waffle batter hit the griddle.

Arsenault and close friend Liz Evans Pochee began experimenting until they came up Wannawaf's original dessert waffles, names and flavors.

Arsenault has been busy building what she refers to as her “anti-chain” since Wannawaf began serving up waffles and ice cream in May of 2003. She admits there have been years she almost sold the Boothbay Harbor shop, especially after her bad season in 2009. She has received multiple offers over the years.

“But, I love doing this and I love the connections with the people who come to Wannawaf and the people working for me,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault's alter ego Waffle Girl (a nickname given to her by Shain's of Maine owner Jeff Shain), will be experiencing some costume changes.

It's all a bit of a secret right now, but when all is sewn and done, Arsenault said Waffle Girl will never again be confused with Wonder Woman.

Outfitted for escapades, Waffle Girl will be starring in a series of webisodes bearing such titles as “The Adventures of Waffle Girl” and “Waffle Girl vs the Evil Pancake Man.”

When it comes to sidekicks, Arsenault's son C.J., now 7 and a half years old, is the original. He has told her he wants to be part of the new store, too.

“Can't you just picture it? This adorable strawberry blonde child outside shouting out the names of waffles on the street?” Arsenault said. “That was his idea.”

What names might he be shouting out? There's Cheeky Monkey, Classic, Grand Tradition, Chocolate Complex … and one new one, Sweet Jams, a peanut butter and bacon waffle served with a tart fruit jelly.

“Boothbay Harbor is the original, but Portland will be the flagship store, the testing ground, the template for all subsequent stores in my 'anti-chain,'” Arsenault said. “If we really pull this off, I see us opening a third location … maybe in Minneapolis, my hometown,” Arsenault said.

The original Wannawaf location, below Andrews' Harborside Restaurant at the footbridge, will continue satisfying sweet tooths in Boothbay Harbor.

Wannawaf is opening there on Thursday, June 13, and will be managed by long-time employee and friend, Matt Forgues.

You know you wanna waffle, you know you do.

And Waffle Girl does too.