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Longboat Key Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 1 week ago

Crisp Waffle Co. opens on St. Armands Circle

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Owner Todi Garay is making liege waffles out of dough rather than batter.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

Todi Garay is bringing a new kind of waffle to St. Armands Circle with Crisp Waffle Co., which opened at 17 Fillmore Drive in early September. 

Crisp Waffle Co. offers Belgian liege waffles, which are different from the classic Brussels waffle you might be used to. This one is made with a dough instead of a batter, so it’s sturdier and stands up to more ingredients like berries and speculoos on the sweet offerings and chicken tenders and avocado on the savory offerings. 

“It's just been a little bit of an education process because people come in and they think, ‘Oh, it's for breakfast,’ and then somebody will come in and go, ‘Oh, it's dessert,’” Garay said. “And then we're like, ‘Well, it's not really all day because it's a dough, and it's not super sweet, so it lends itself to having all the fixings on it.”

Garay imports her dry ingredients from Belgium and makes the dough fresh every day. She tops some with dark chocolate or speculoos, a cookie butter sauce with a caramel-like consistency, which are both imported from Belgium as well. If there’s something she can’t make well, she’ll turn to local sources to add to her waffles, like Sarasota Honey Co. for jam, Yoder’s for ice cream or Whiskey Barrel for chicken. 

So far, the most popular item on the menu is the Strawberry Extreme, which is a waffle topped with strawberries, speculoos and chocolate. The waffle bites are also a hit item amongst the passersby who want to continue walking the Circle but who can’t pass up a good treat. Finally, the Monte Cristo on the Beach is quickly becoming a fan favorite — it’s the classic sandwich with turkey, ham and cheese with jam, but it’s on a waffle instead of bread. 

“The only challenge I have is to not eat one every day,” Garay said. 

Garay has had a passion for baking for years, fitting it in when she could find time away from her job as an underwriter for an insurance company. But in 2020, she lost her job during the pandemic and found herself with time on her hands. 

“During the pandemic, you want to be able to see your close friends and your family, so your community got a little bit smaller,” Garay said. “We always had pizza parties at the house because we make our own dough and our own sauce and it was always fun, but we were like ‘OK, well how many parties can we have? How about a waffle party?’ We had all the fresh fruit, we had ice cream, we had all the toppings and the fixings for them. Our family and friends were like, ‘You really should sell these,’ and I said, ‘Well, I'm kind of looking for my next adventure.’ I started looking into trying to find a small space to make the waffles.”

So far, the response on the Circle has been supportive. Garay has had some passersby drop in for a coffee and leave with a waffle, while some have come in looking for a grab-and-go meal outside their comfort zone. The Nespresso and Katy’s Iced Teas have also been hits to pair with waffles. 

“It's worked out really well,” Garay said. “Using the dough, it's so versatile. You can make so many things with it. We just want them to experience the waffle.”

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