'Why not waffles!': Niantic family opens waffle truck

·3 min read

May 15—EAST LYME — Inspired by their yearslong custom of getting Liege waffles while skiing in Vermont, and born out of conversations from ample family time in the coronavirus pandemic, a Niantic family has started a waffle truck.

Dan and Alicia Walsh started The Walsh Waffle Wagon with their 17-year-olds, Riley and Jack, and 14-year-old, Luke. The food truck had its inaugural stop at the Niantic Artisan & Vintage Market on Saturday.

Dan Walsh commented the day before, "I'm psyched. I haven't been this excited about work stuff in a while, and it's great. It's great. I'm looking forward to working with my kids on that thing, and hopefully we can make a lot of people smile."

The Walsh Waffle Wagon was parked alongside other food trucks in front of Pro Tek Auto on Saturday, a sunny day that brought many downtown. The Walshes served their crispy waffles, including some in a bowl with ice cream and a drink umbrella.

Dan said the concept has "been probably years in the making, a little bit of discussions about it here and there."

While skiing at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, the Walsh family has loved getting Liege waffles, a smaller dessert waffle made with yeasted dough and pearl sugar, from Waffle Cabin.

"I thought that would probably be a great idea for where we live, and I think the kids always wanted to get involved and do something on our own together," Dan said. With a lot of time together this past winter, the Walshes started getting more serious about the idea.

Previously a pilot and now working in genetic sequencing, Dan has never run a business before, but he said he has an "immense appreciation" for the restaurateurs and entrepreneurs he spends time with as president of Niantic Main Street.

It was just recently, with the food truck idea, that Dan started making waffles. The recipe includes dough, yeast, vanilla extract, and pearl sugar imported from Belgium. The truck also has a proofer, which is between 70 and 110 degrees, for the process of allowing the yeasted dough to rise.

Dan said proofing will double the size of the dough in about 2 1/2 or 3 hours, which keeps the waffle from becoming too chewy or too dry.

He said they're keeping the menu simple, focusing on a waffle that also can come with a milk chocolate drizzle or the chocolate drizzle plus ice cream. The Walsh Waffle Wagon is using ice cream from the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe, and Dan said the flavors now available are vanilla, mint chocolate chip, and birthday cake.

Jack Walsh said he and his twin brother run the food truck's Instagram page and have put out surveys on what ice cream flavors people want. He said friends and classmates are excited and asking questions.

"I think it's really fun, because it started off sort of as a conversation at the dinner table over whether or not we all wanted to do this," Jack said, adding, "I think it's been a great bonding experience."

Dan said his sons also have good ideas about developing merchandise, like hats and shirts. The logo comes from local designer Rita Rivera, who is also involved with Niantic Main Street, and the tagline is "Why not waffles!"

In addition to waffles — which range from $4 to $8, depending on whether chocolate and ice cream are included — the food truck serves scoops of ice cream, root beer floats and coffee.

e.moser@theday.com

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