Born in the Philippines and raised in Houston, Phi Nguyen always dreamt of opening a restaurant. In 2012, after leaving corporate life, Nguyen followed his entrepreneurial spirit and took the leap to open the first Waffle Bus food truck. He traveled across the country on a quest for the perfect fried chicken and waffle recipe. Testing hundreds of methods to create each waffle from scratch, he created a proprietary recipe that keeps his waffles light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. One of the secrets: grinding his own flour.
A beloved Houston food truck, The Waffle Bus serves classic fried chicken and waffles as a sandwich along with a variety of innovative waffle combinations, like Chicken Thunder Fries (seasoned waffle fries topped with spicy mayo and ancho chile honey butter). After years of success with mobile cuisine, and bringing in over $950,000 in 2017, Nguyen knew Houston was ready for a brick-and-mortar version.
Source: Eat St.
The idea for finding a permanent spot for the Waffle Bus was always part of the plan. Nguyen knew the importance of capturing revenue from a new market while staying true to their loyal customers who have followed them all over Houston was vital to a successful expansion.
Located in one Houston’s trendiest neighborhoods, the Heights, The Waffle Bus brick and mortar will serve customer favorites such as Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Waffle Sandwiches, Fryders, Crème Brulee, and Nutella & Banana waffles. Phi is looking forward to adding menu items that are too challenging to create in the heat of the food truck such as ice cream, and fruit and cream-based waffles and desserts.
Working in the bus provided founder and head chef Phi with an ideal platform to launch a storefront. Phi has fine-tuned his preparation process, created an efficient menu, and developed a deep understanding of what Houston eaters are looking for. This location will supplement The Waffle Bus’s already busy catering schedule by allowing them to prepare food faster and accelerate their in-demand catering services.
It may seem like the competition is hot in the Height’s area, but The Waffle Bus is sure to be a welcome addition with its unique waffle-based creations to the successful franchises already in the area, such as Snooze, KA Sushi, and Hugs and Donuts. Customers in the nearby area are accustomed to dining out and spend 57% more on eating away from home than average American households. Within five miles of The Waffle Bus’s brick-and-mortar restaurant, diners spend over $4K a year on eating out.
Chicken & waffle fryders
Nutella and banana
Marketing the new venture is already in the works thanks to the reputation earned from the food truck. The Waffle Bus has been featured on CNN, The Food Network, Zagat, The Houston Press, The Houston Chronicle, Eater Houston, KHOU, KPRC, CW39, visithoustonTX.com, and many more.
While The Waffle Bus was Nguyen’s first step into the food and beverage industry, this is not Phi's first step into the brick-and-mortar world. He’s also one of the owners of the fast-casual concept Pho Spot, which features Vietnamese southern soul food.