Slice of Life

Say happy birthday to Funk ‘n Waffles, because it’s turning 10

Casey Russell | Feature Editor

Funk ‘n Waffles holds open mic nights every Wednesday night as a way to support student performers. Students can also schedule performances.

As customers put their dishes in the return tray, Funk ‘n Waffles owner Adam Gold asked for feedback on their meals — “delicious” was the response heard over Bob Dylan’s upbeat 1966 love song “I Want You” playing over the loud speaker.

“Good luck over there,” Gold said as the customers thanked him and left the shop.

The vibrant, quirky and well-loved University Hill staple Funk ‘n Waffles opened up shop in 2007, and on Friday at 9 p.m., it will host its 10th birthday party. For 10 years, it’s been a hub for good food and exciting entertainment. It’s there to serve students.

The restaurant and entertainment venue was originally started by Gold and fellow SU alumnus Kyle Corea when they were juniors, created “by students, for students.” They started messing around with waffle recipes, borrowing their neighbor’s waffle iron and combining unusual ingredients into one plate. Surprisingly, their creations were pretty good.

Throughout their junior and senior years, Corea and Gold threw parties where they served their waffles with a side of live music. The parties became more and more popular, eventually prompting the best friends to enter in a Whitman School of Management competition that awarded a $25,000 sum to the best student-created business. They didn’t win, but they decided to start a business anyway.

That business has been sitting next to Chuck’s Café ever since.

Before Café Kubal and similar eateries opened up, Funk ‘n Waffles was the spot on campus to eat natural and organic food, Gold recalled.

“When we first opened, we were one of the only alternative coffee shops,” he said.

Gold is also proud to have served fellow Orange students for so long. Different student groups have hosted fundraisers at the restaurant, including fraternities, sororities and everything in between.

Funk ‘n Waffles also supports and hosts student performers and musicians, both through their Wednesday open mic nights and through scheduled performances by musically-inclined students like Charlie Burg, who will perform on Feb. 3.

Some of the highlights in the past 10 years for the restaurant include hosting Fred Wesley, the trombonist for James Brown. Brown is the man many music lovers credit with creating funk music. Funk ‘n Waffles also hosted Vampire Weekend before they became popular. Vampire Weekend opened for the Syracuse band Ra Ra Riot to a crowd of about 300 people.

“My old roommate from college is Wes, the lead singer,” Gold said. “So I used to live with Wes from Ra Ra Riot.”

Funk ‘n Waffles was also featured on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and opened up a second Armory Square location in 2015.

Since its inception, the restaurant and entertainment venue has become known on the Hill for its live music and Wednesday open mic nights, not to mention their crazy waffles. The menu serves both sweet and savory, classic and outlandish.

Some of their most popular concoctions include their Chicken ‘n Waffles, the Jive Turkey waffle made with Thanksgiving stuffing, and their Star Child with classic strawberries and whipped cream. Their menu also includes sandwiches, salads, smoothies as well as several gluten-free and vegan options.

For the restaurant’s 10th birthday party, Gold has planned for his band, Sophistafunk, to play starting at 9 p.m. at the Hill location. Following an hour and 30-minute set, the party will move to the 2-year-old Amory Square Funk ‘n Waffles location, and Big Mean Sound Machine from Ithaca will play. Leading up to the party, they will give out free iced coffee, and they’ve composed some specialty waffles for their event. Entrance to the event is free.

Moving forward, Gold is excited to make Funk ‘n Waffles even bigger. He hopes to open up between five and 10 locations, and he’s well on his way to opening a 10,000 square-foot location in Rochester in April.

“I’m really proud of it, I’m really proud of all my staff,” he said. “As long as everyone wants to keep pushing on, then we’ll go ahead and open more Funk ‘n Waffles.”


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