Courtesy of Volkswaffle
Terry Jeske’s VolksWaffle is a staple at food truck events, farmer’s markets and big local festivals. And in mid- to late-January, fans will finally have a reliable brick-and-mortar location to satisfy their Belgian waffle cravings.
The location (4140 Manzanita Avenue) once housed City Brew, a tiny coffee kiosk in a Carmichael strip mall. Now that kiosk’s been painted bright red, and with brass accents it’ll soon resemble an adorable gift box. Jeske plans to be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., with drive-through and walk-up options for ordering, but no seating on-site.
VolksWaffle specializes in Liége waffles, one of two Belgian styles and by far the superior one. They’re made from yeasted dough—not liquidy batter—with Belgian pearl sugar that creates caramelized crispiness on the outside as well as sweet, crunchy pockets on the inside. It’s a dense, richly textured delight that you will dare not compare to a doughnut, funnel cake or any breakfast plate from your standard diner. And definitely don’t try putting maple syrup on it, either.
Jeske is Belgian. He remembers eating Liége waffles while walking to kindergarten. He loves these waffles. His obsession over ingredients and authenticity means he had no choice but to import pre-made dough from a Belgian bakery—even a frozen dough shipped from Belgium to France to New York and finally to California is far better than what he or a bakery out here could make, he says.
“Dough is so finicky and I am so meticulous; dough is everything,” he says. “We go the extra mile and it’s very costly.”
Packaging, shipping, taxes, fees. It adds up. That’s why he charges about $5 for a waffle. He imports the heavy-duty waffle irons, too.
Liége waffles are taking quite some time to really land in the U.S. That’s a matter of the dough’s time-consuming requirements—not a matter of deliciousness. But you can find plenty of short-cut versions these days—even the frozen food aisle at some grocery stores. Jeske says the best way to test the quality of Liége waffles—and his preferred method of enjoyment—is to eat them plain.
“Toppings can hide something that’s mediocre,” he says.
But people adore their toppings, and VolksWaffle obliges. The brick-and-mortar will offer the same menu as the truck—plain waffles, Belgian chocolate-dipped waffles, waffles with slabs of ice cream or whipped cream and fruit—with some additions. Expect a caramel-pecan waffle and caramel-walnut waffle—with those ingredients being baked into the dough, not thrown on top. Jeske will also serve espresso drinks and Belgian-style coffee.
More VolksWaffle expansion is on Jeske’s radar as well. He called the Carmichael location a “test pilot,” but hopes to open some sit-down locations in the greater Sacramento region. He’d also love to bring Belgian fries to Sacramento, either at a brick-and-mortar or in a separate food truck. For the uninitiated, Belgian fries are traditionally fried in beef fat and duck fat, piled high into a paper cone and served with a slew of mayo-based sauces. It may seem like a big departure from waffles, but Jeske’s efforts are more about maintaining Belgian tradition in general.
“I didn’t create anything,” he says. “I’m just part of a long chain. My big thing is to give them honor, to keep it all going.”