Batter up: Eagle River waffle restaurant caters to a variety of tastes

Monday, December 24, 2018 - 12:59
  • Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green hands out a fresh waffle to a server at the new restaurant, which opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green poses for a photo outside his new restaruant, which opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green squirts syrup on a waffle at the new restaurant, which opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Waffles and Whatnot opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Waffles and Whatnot opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green squirts syrup on a waffle at the new restaurant, which opened in late November in downtown Eagle River. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Waffling about what to eat? A new restaurant in Eagle River has you covered.

Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green says customers who visit his new eatery are guaranteed to leave happy — even if they don’t know what they want to eat.

“When you offer the Chef’s Special it’s very simple: If you like it, you pay for it. If you don’t like it, all we ask is that you tell us what you didn’t like it so we can fix it for next time,” he said.

It’s a guarantee that usually pays off in satisfied customers.

“In two and a half years I still have had less than five people who haven’t paid for their meal,” he said.

Green said he has one customer who has never ordered off the menu. Has he ever been disappointed?

“Nope,” Green said.

Green — a former National Guard military policeman who moved to Eagle River in 2005 — has gained a following in the Anchorage area in recent years thanks to his Waffles and Whatnot food truck, which serves up a diverse array of waffle treats both savory and sweet. The food truck has since been parked while Green focuses on the new restaurant, but the eclectic menu is still very much a part of the Waffles and Whatnot theme.

“I want to have the most culturally diverse restaurant in America,” he said.

He’s well on his way. From chicken adobo to goulash to waffles topped with Nutella, Green said there’s no telling what his chefs will come up with on a daily basis.

“You may come here one week and we’re featuring Puerto Rican food. And then you come back and we’re featuring food from Rwanda. And you may come back and we’re featuring German food — you just never know,” he said.

Green’s unique tastes actually developed through a tragic period in his life. He first started experimenting with different ingredients while his former wife, Shirili, battled cancer. She struggled to keep most foods down, he said, so Green had to find foods she could.

As it turned out, waffles proved to be a good base upon which almost any recipe could be built.

“I started learning those things and then looked at what would hold it. Waffles and pancakes are things that can hold it really well,” he said.

That lesson served Green well, and now he says he can accommodate any type of dietary restriction, food allergy or individual taste.

“I haven’t encountered a food restriction yet I can’t accommodate from my kitchen,” he said.

Shirili died in 2013, but before she did she made Green promise not to give up on chasing his dreams.

He hasn’t slowed down since.

In 2015, Green left the National Guard and started a pair of public service campaigns, including a “pop-up feed the homeless” event in Mountain View and a walk to help raise awareness of veteran suicide.

“It was a moment in life where I had to do something,” he said.

Next, Green and his new wife, Liron, started selling coffee on the Kenai beach during dipnetting season. Sometimes he’d work for 24 hours straight, he said. Soon, the Waffles and Whatnot food truck was born.

Green’s goal is to grow his business into a franchise. He’s a member of the Facebook Business Council, which has allowed him to grow his business quickly through social media, he said. Before settling on his new location, Green briefly operated a standalone business on JBER.

He plans to offer stock options to employees and offers his waffle batter at cost to schools for use in fundraisers. He said he doesn’t just want the restaurant to be a place to eat, but a focal point for the community.

“We’re very community oriented,” he said.

Green said he hasn’t spent much time promoting his restaurant, instead relying on word-of-mouth. Judging by the steady stream of customers coming in on a recent weekday, that plan seems to be working.

“The waffles are on point,” said customer Charles Andersen, who drove in from Wasilla for a heaping plate of waffles.

Andersen said he’s never been disappointed with the food, which typically comes in heaping portions.

“You get more than you pay for,” he said.

The new restaurant opened last month at 12801 Old Glenn Highway in the same strip mall that houses Piccolino’s Italian Restaurant; they’re open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday and closed Monday-Tuesday. Call (907) 854-0178 for take-out.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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