Well folks, we’ve been open for a little over 8 months and today, we were paid a visit from a health inspector named Gil. He’s the local inspector for the area of North Park and he was quite surprised he never knew we existed! And he probably never would have except last week, they received a complaint regarding our operation – operating without a valid health permit.
Who filed the complaint? Who knows… You can be sure it was someone that keeps their eyes open for such things but regardless, the blame very much falls on us for not going through the proper channels. Here’s the meat and potatoes of it all.
We opened in 2012 surviving only off Farmer’s Markets and events. Anyone who does the farmers market living, knows it’s not quite a living. It’s hard to make ends meat which is why you see the same vendors spread through out the 60+ markets in SD. We all have dreams of a “brick & mortar” – but not making a living and opening a store doesn’t really go hand in hand which is why things like Kickstarter and Fund me exist. Anyways, with a store front not quite seeming possible, we chose to increase our wholesale market and with that, we needed a kitchen closer than our shared kitchen in Miramar, so we could cook up those little waffles for all the SD coffee shops. We stumbled across the back alley of the laundry mat and well, it cost too much. So we said goodbye and kept searching, to really not find anything. A year later, 30th Street Laundry took new ownership and the new owners offered us an affordable rate. And so we had our space which we designed so we could cook waffles and sell them on the wholesale market, but not the public. We opened our gate on June 20th and slowly but surely, people stumbled in to see what we were about. We had one communal table, some plastic forks and knives, and thus Waffle Headquarters (HQ) was born. People kept asking for more seats and more options, coffee, and tea, and an expansion of the menu. Over the last 8 months, we adding touches here and there to every aspect of the venue changing it from a headquarters to a full on dining establishment. As it grew, we knew we needed to upgrade our permitting so we made plans to do it – those of you who have been with us from the start, you may have noticed, we closed for 1 week in November to renovate. But 1 week wasn’t enough to get it all done.
Our health inspector friend, Gil, said it perfectly, “You know, usually when I have to close a space, I’m really hyper, but not here, it’s really peaceful. I want you to feel peaceful too. Don’t see this as something coming against you but as an opportunity to do it the way you had wanted to.”
What’s on the check list: upgrade commercial stove, upgrade ventilation, close off garage (either literally keep the door closed or secure with glass and windows, upgrade floor drains, submit these changes to the department of environmental health, pay money, get approved, re-open.
So, we’re not at square 1 but we have to up our game. After submitting the plans, obtaining approval can take 30 days, but we hope it’s sooner. We do have a few tricks up our sleeves and very much appreciate the support during this challenging time for us. We do have a proper health permit to be at markets, events, catering services, etc. and really anything “temporary” – our permitting did not allow us to be somewhere “permanently”. When visiting the Dominican Republic last year, I met a man from Canada who had fried chicken shops throughout the island. I asked him, why did you leave Canada to start a business here? He said, “the hoops and ladders of the system in Canada just made it impossible to go into business for yourself. I just wanted to sell good chicken and I can do that here.” Well, we’re not moving to the Dominican Republic, but we see his point. We just want to bring you good waffles, build community with you, and pay our bills. Please be patient as we go through this process.
Honestly, the saddest thing about closing the gate temporarily is that our sweet team of 8 will have their hours cut greatly since we don’t need all of them for our upcoming events and markets. Keep all of us in your prayers.