Three 29-year-old friends took the risk of their lives two years ago and now, New York City is reaping the delicious rewards.
On March 31, David Chan, Yiming Hui and Peter Li, all 29 years old, opened the doors to Wowfulls, a Brooklyn-based parlor serving 1950s-style Gai Dàn Jai. That is better known as Hong Kong egg waffles that are crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside, piled high with ice cream and a horde of toppings.
On the first day, people waited on two-hour lines just to get their hands on a Wowfull, and after TheStreet tried one, we know why.
Wowfulls started as a part-time traveling business in October 2015, which Chan said he and the others took to music festivals and street fairs. Chan said by 2016, people were on the edge of their seats wondering when they would make a permanent home for their sweet treats. So, he, and Hui and Li, quit their jobs in May of that year and took a dive into craft food. Chan was in marketing and advertising and held positions at major corporations including Prudential Financial (PRU) .
"We have a mission for our company," Chan told TheStreet. "People ask us how we're different from our competition. We pride ourselves on making our waffle as authentic as the one in Hong Kong."
Chan said one of his biggest fears before opening Wowfulls was that his establishment would become a night-time-only destination - a place where people stopped in after dinner - and that it wouldn't be enough to sustain the business. Or that it would become just a fad.
"So many businesses open up and close down," Chan said. "Even now, we don't know if it can sustain but that's the risk we want to take. If we fail, we're still young. We'll get back up."
Wowfulls certainly appears to be prepared for success. In the process of creating a unique brand for itself, the company also found a friend in Hershey (HSY) .
Chan said before opening the Brooklyn shop and partnering with Queens-based "mom-and-pop" homemade ice cream parlor Max & Mina's, which provides Wowfulls with various flavors of ice cream, Hershey sold product to the company.
Chan said Wowfulls still buys their crazy vanilla flavor from Hershey and signed a non-compete agreement with the chocolate king so it only sells that particular flavor to them.
Chan's ambitious attitude is rare and he, and his business partners, wanted to spread some of their bravery to other young entrepreneurs. Wowfulls hires only college students who are looking for an experience more than just a part-time job. Chan said he, Hui and Li teach the students how to be successful, "things they won't learn in a classroom." Plus, if they boost their GPA while employed, they get a $500 bonus.
Still, the issue of high rent, which has weighed heavily on a number of dining establishments in New York City, was a concern to Chan, but he said his situation seems to be "good enough for us to survive."
Here's how the Wowfull creation is made.
The batter is put in the waffle iron. Then, they let it cook for three to four minutes. Customers can opt to have coconut flakes sprinkled on top for extra flavor.
When TheStreet asked the secret to making the waffles so crisp, soft and sweet all at the same time, Chan pointed to a recipe found on Google (GOOGL) - "I'm not much of a cook."
Chan said after it's cooked, the waffle enters the cooling station - complete with tiny fans - which gives it its crisp outer layer. When they're stationed outside, Mother Nature provides the wind for the all-natural cooling process, but since they've migrated indoors, they need a bit of assistance.
Wowfulls offers a variety of unique ice cream flavors to choose from including crazy vanilla, green tea lemon and cotton candy Pop Rocks.
Top it off with some Oreos, strawberries, hot fudge and chocolate chips? Chan said customers can choose from one of Wowfulls' original creations or concoct an assortment of their own.
A Wowful is born.