Main Photo: Ocean Flower Island, Hainan Province, China
Date: August 2019
Locations: UK and China
Name: Waffle Jack’s – opening 2020
No. of Covers: 40 in Wimbledon, London UK and 250 in Hainan, China
The Brand: Waffle Jack’s – a South African Expat breaks into China big time with an American diner concept
Stephan Theron and his wife Adele started their working career in their home country, in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa and like a lot of his fellow-countrymen decided to try their luck in the UK in 2008.
They found an empty shop in residential Wimbledon…not the town or the village, where restaurants have opened and closed at an alarming rate and started a small 12-seater coffee shop on Effra Road, Wimbledon in 2011.
It was managed by the couple for just under 5 years, when on a holiday break to St Ives, Cornwall in 2013, they stumbled on to a small waffle shop that produced really amazing waffles. They thought it would be a good idea to start making waffles at the coffee shop, so on their return, they did their research and Stephan’s wife, Adele, formulated a recipe which enabled them to create a waffle that is unique.
“Our waffles did so well for us at our coffee shop that we decided to introduce our waffles to a larger audience and embarked on the creation of Waffle Jack’s. What you have to keep in mind is that we were only looking at starting up a waffle shop but as we were developing the concept, we realised that we should offer more than just waffles within the area that we were looking at setting up shop.” says Stephan.
“We considered other food options such as burgers, hot dogs and bagels, and this is how the American Diner Theme came about. When we launched Waffle Jack’s American Diner in 2015, it became apparent quite quickly that we were on to a winning format.”
Stephan and Adele had the brand trademarked with a view on future expansion. They were fortunate to be recognised for their success through the years and this not only resulted in a number of Awards (Time Out’s Best Local Independent 2016 and Time Out’s Most Loved Brunch Spot 2018), but little did they think that this might lead to such a future in 2019…
They received an invitation to visit China with the purpose of establishing their Waffle Jack’s brand in a number of major tourism attractions being developed throughout China in 2018.
The first development being situated in Hainan Province. The deal with the second largest property developer in China, Evergrande, consists of opening upto 17 Waffle Jack’s restaurants throughout the most popular tourist areas in China!
China is on a major tourism drive and a large and unique number of theme-park resorts, with large residential flats are being developed, with the first scheduled Waffle Jacks opening, with 250 covers, planned for around the middle of 2020 on Ocean Flower Island. “The name alone got me excited” says Stephan.
This is where the couple will be based as of next year. “We are now in the process to source partners to develop our brand within the UK and potentially throughout Europe, not least of all, a young enthusiast with catering experience, but an entrepreneurial flair to take over the Wimbledon site on a franchise-basis.”
Our slogan is “Awesome food…Awesome people””
THPT Comment: Not a hotel, but an American Diner and a story of how David beat Goliath to the front seat! Shows that enterprise and hard work can still prosper!
First Seen: EP Insights
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