Santa Cruz Waffle Shop crew
Santa Cruz Waffle Shop crew: Graphic designer Eric Villalobos, co-owner Tim Oegema, employee Ryan Balmain and co-owner Brian Tong.
(Lily Belli / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lower Pacific gets a sweet new addition: Santa Cruz Waffle Shop sets up shop at Metro station

Is it a waffle or is it a donut? You can have that discourse with the newest tenant at the Metro station, located on the center island behind El Huarache taqueria. “It’s cake batter, cooked in a waffle iron and decorated like a donut, sometimes like a pie,” says waffle creator and Waffle Shop co-owner Brian Tong.

If the downtown Santa Cruz Metro Center doesn’t immediately spring to mind when asked about hip breakfast spots in town, that’s about to change. Santa Cruz Waffle Shop rolled up its door for the first time on Monday as the newest tenant at the Metro station, located on the center island behind El Huarache taqueria.

Lily

Inside the school-bus yellow interior, guests will find a short but impactful waffle-based menu. There’s a waffle breakfast sandwich with scrambled egg, crispy bacon, cheese and arugula, finished with a curry-scented aioli. It can be ordered “regular” or “spicy” and is just $5.

Then there are the waffles, masquerading as highly decorated donuts. “It’s cake batter, cooked in a waffle iron and decorated like a donut, sometimes like a pie,” says waffle creator and Waffle Shop co-owner Brian Tong.

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On the day it opened, flavors included German chocolate, blueberry cheesecake, lemon meringue and strawberries and cream. They’re pure fun, and the ensuing sugar rush is sure to get you where you need to go faster than any city bus.

Co-owner Tim Oegema is also proud to serve Captain + Stoker Coffee. This is the first outpost for the Monterey-based craft roasters in Santa Cruz County. Right now, Waffle Shop serves espresso and drip coffee, and Oegema says he hopes to soon have bags of coffee available, too.

This is the first brick-and-mortar venture for both Oegema and Tong. Oegema’s culinary career includes stints at such Michelin-starred restaurants as Alinea in Chicago and Sons & Daughters in San Francisco. He was also the sous-chef at David Kinch’s New Orleans-style brasserie The Bywater in Los Gatos.

Most recently, Oegema worked at Pretty Good Advice in Soquel before taking a break to work on opening the Waffle Shop.

Santa Cruz Waffle Shop's menu.
(Lily Belli / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz Waffle Shop is Tong’s first time working in a professional kitchen. A Santa Cruz native, he was an avid home cook but was working in real estate when he and Oegema were introduced by mutual friends and decided to go into business together.

They came into the spot at the Metro station because it was a good fit for their budget, even if they had to do certain upgrades, such as replacing the flooring, by hand. Right now they are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but hope to expand their hours in the future.

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Oegema said the concept was partly inspired by his time working at Pretty Good Advice with chef Matt McNamara, who prioritizes high-quality food at approachable prices: “We want to offer good food for a delicious value.”

920 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Follow on Instagram at @scwaffleshop.