After Bryan and Alyssa Agee moved back to their hometown of Spokane several years ago, they noticed the city was lacking a restaurant specializing in waffles.
While living in Portland, the couple had enjoyed dining at the Waffle Window, a to-go spot that served sweet and savory Belgian-style waffles.
“They were just amazing,” Alyssa Agee said. “When we moved back home, we were missing that experience and kept talking about ‘how can we recreate that here and make it happen?’ ”
The couple launched People’s Waffle last year as a food truck that serves gluten-free waffles with fresh local ingredients. The food truck was a success, but the couple always envisioned opening a brick-and-mortar location.
The Agees, along with business partner Aaron Hein, made the leap from food truck operators to restaurant owners in April when they opened People’s Waffle in the historic Symons Building, at 15 S. Howard St., in downtown Spokane.
“We wanted a central location, a space with good energy, lights and ample parking,” Alyssa Agee said. “This spot in the Symons Building became available, and it was perfect timing.”
The Agees spent months renovating a leased space formerly occupied by The Observatory, a bar and event venue that closed in 2019. Work included installing a new commercial kitchen and removing a stage and sound equipment in the north end of the space to make way for the restaurant’s dining room, Agee said.
People’s Waffle serves a variety of gluten-free sweet and savory waffles made with a recipe handed down from Alyssa Agee’s great-grandmother.
Some favorite menu items include the Lemon Blueberry, which features two waffles topped with lemon curd, blueberries, meringue and crème anglaise, and the Duck Confit served with fig jam, boursin cheese and pickled onion.
“That one was popular on the food truck,” Alyssa Agee said of the Duck Confit.
The Agees and Hein also are opening Emma Rue’s, a coffee, dessert and cocktail bar, in the same space as People’s Waffle.
Emma Rue’s will serves single-origin coffee from Portland-based Coava Coffee Roasters, with plans to feature coffee from other roasters in the Northwest, Agee said.
Emma Rue’s will operate as a cafe during the day and a cocktail bar at night. The cocktail bar will highlight absinthe and champagne pairings with specialty desserts.
The cafe is slated to launch next month. The cocktail and dessert bar is expected to open later this summer, Agee said.
People’s Waffle is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. The restaurant offers takeout and curbside pickup.
While opening a restaurant during a pandemic was a challenging process, Agee said she’s glad to have made the transition from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location.
“Our neighbors are excited to have someone new,” she said. “We have lots of people who work and live in downtown Spokane and they are excited to have a spot they can just walk to.”
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