Brothers Bryan and Caleb Lewis of Dallas-based Press Waffle Co. appear on Shark Tank. Courtesy of ABC Shark Tank
"The House" is one of Press Waffle Co.'s most popular waffles with strawberries, Nutella, whipped cream, and cookie butter drizzle. Courtesy of Press Waffle Co.
Press Waffle Co. has chicken & waffles called the Soulman. Courtesy of Press Waffle Co.
Dallas-based brothers Bryan and Caleb Lewis of Press Waffle Co. are set for a big spotlight moment, an appearance on this Sunday’s episode of ABC’s Shark Tank. The Richardson natives opened their waffle business as a food truck in 2016 and have expanded to four locations, including one in the Houston area and one coming soon to Oklahoma City.
I visited the brothers at their Legacy Hall food stall in Plano to learn more about their experience in the Tank and check out the sweet and savory waffle concoctions.
Press Waffle Co. stands out right as you walk into the North entrance of Legacy Hall with its modern European design and the wonderful smell of waffles. It’s surrounded by quite a few empty booths in the Plano food hall, six of which recently shuttered, but will soon be replaced by new restaurant concepts.
The idea of a waffle company came from a trip that Bryan and his wife took throughout Europe. They saw and tried Liege waffles, a Belgian dough-based waffle loaded with caramelized clusters of pearl sugar in each bite, in France, the United Kingdom and various other countries. When Bryan came back home, he looked for these kinds of waffles, but they were nowhere to be found. He decided to try making them himself in his kitchen.
His younger brother, Caleb, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in accounting around this time. Bryan approached his brother with the thought of starting a waffle food truck. The two dove into the idea. It was a perfect match with Bryan’s creativity and Caleb’s business practicality.
As soon as they opened their food truck in 2016, the brothers knew that they wanted to try out for Shark Tank at some point.
“We loved the show and have been watching since Season One,” Caleb tells PaperCity. “We had always wondered how we could be on the show.”
Before Press Waffle, Bryan had been a high school theatre teacher for five years and Caleb had been a student. They finally had their reason for trying out for Shark Tank with their unique waffle business.
Bryan and Caleb had auditioned once before and went through a couple of rounds back when they were working their food truck. When they came back for the second time, after opening at Legacy Hall, the casting team remembered them as the “Waffle Guys!” One even told them that she still slept in a Press Waffle Co. T-shirt because it was so comfy.
“They told us that they were hoping we would come back,” Caleb says.
Before going into the Shark Tank, Bryan said that they had “basically watched game film.” They had been watching the show for so long. They felt prepared for any questions that Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec might ask.
“We were surprised with how real it really was,” the brothers say. “We had all the opportunity to either impress or screw up.”
As it quick as it goes by on television, they were actually in the Tank for about an hour and a half. As nervous as they were before going in, they immediately got comfortable once they got in front of the sharks.
“It felt almost like we knew them,” Bryan says, of their familiarity from being avid Shark Tank viewers.
The Waffle Revolution
The Press Waffle Co. slogan is “A new way to waffle.” The duo is looking to grow and has a franchising program to pursue their goal of putting Press Waffle on the map and finding other people who think the idea is cool.
On top of more locations, they’re also looking to one day expand past food stalls and hopefully open a counter-service restaurant at some point.
“I do believe that we have a flexible footprint,” Bryan Lewis says. “We have 35 or so other menu items that could expand to a restaurant.”
“When we started we decided that if we were going to do it, we’re gonna make it as big as we can,” Caleb says. The favorites on the menu currently are “The House,” which has strawberries, whipped cream, Nutella and cookie butter drizzle. It’s amazing.
“Soulman” is a savory favorite, a chicken & waffles concoction. Customers also have the option of customizing their waffle any way they like.
The brothers have made their company a family business and wouldn’t have it any other way. The whole family is involved and they also invest in the employees they hire, developing part-time employees into managers. And contrary to what people say about not mixing business with family, the brothers don’t believe in that.
“I can’t imagine doing this without my brother,” Bryan Lewis says.
Watch Shark Tank this Sunday, March 24, at 9pm on ABC to find out if the Lewis brothers got a deal.