Located between the popular outdoor music venue The Blueberry Patch and Gulfport’s Tangerine Greenway Park, Pop Goes the Waffle’s 2,400 square-foot location will boast a menu filled with owner Sara Fludd’s unique waffle creations. The ‘Burg-based food truck is known for its sweet waffles, as well as its unexpected savory flavors—like maple bacon, shrimp and grits, and a handheld chicken and waffle.
Fludd, who started Pop Goes the Waffle in 2017 and currently operates it with her husband Rod, has had an incredibly busy 2021 and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Having just completed a nationwide business incubator program and reached her kickstarter goal of $23,483 right before 2021 ended, Fludd heads into the new year with an immense amount of momentum.
Included in Fludd’s long list of recent accomplishments, is a Creative Loafing Best of the Bay award for the Best Black-owned Business of 2021.
And if you’re wondering what the Pop Goes the Waffle menu will look like, the simple answer is “whatever Fludd can fit into a waffle iron.” Alongside a selection of expected vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon liege waffles—which are typically doughier and more brioche-like—will be a savory-forward weekend menu that includes waffle-ized versions of sandwiches and other breakfast favorites.
Fludd is spending the next few weeks in the test kitchen trying to make her wildest waffle dreams come true, which includes a shepherd's pie complete with a mashed potato-based waffle.
Pop Goes the Waffle was also recently featured on Bay News 9, with Fludd making a cornbread waffle topped with chili, green onions, cheese, pickled jalapeños and sour cream—an item that might see the light of day on Pop Goes the Waffle’s specialty menu in the future. Other unique creations that set Pop Goes the Waffle apart from other dessert cafes include a “unicorn” waffle covered in Fruity Pebbles, a lemon poppy seed flavor, and even a hot cheeto-covered waffle-dog.
The Tangerine Avenue building that used to be a pale orange is now bright blue and matches the loud color of Fludd's waffle truck, named “Blossom.” A blueprint that she shared on social media previews a drip coffee station, pastry cases, and 10-12 indoor seats.
The fact that her storefront is adjacent to Child’s Park, a historically Black neighborhood, and will be opening in Gulfport, which was a sundown town well into the 1950s, are also extremely important aspects to Fludd. “As a Black woman, I'm excited to bring a bakery to this part of town and keep engaged with the community there. Education surrounding food insecurity is something I really want to focus on as well.”
She also mentions that balancing her participation in the national business incubator while simultaneously working on the storefront opening has been tricky. Just this past week, Fludd said goodbye to her day job as a member of the digital team of John Hopkins All Children's Hospital, and is ready to move forward as a full-time business woman and waffle connoisseur.
Fludd was one of the 10 winners selected for 2021’s Stacy’s Rise Project, a national incubator that aims to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses. In addition to a $10,000 business grant, she had the opportunity to learn from large corporations like Frito-Lay and PepsiCo, which have helped her improve product packaging and expand e-commerce.
“It was like getting an MBA in 3 months,” she says with a laugh. “The help I got—you can't put a price tag on that. It’s taught me how to think bigger and better about my own business, and scalability is at the forefront of mind now.”
Fludd and her business are experiencing a colossal amount of growth right now—with the Pop Goes the Waffle storefront only one piece of her entrepreneurial puzzle.
When the Gulfport storefront opens in a few months, the bright blue waffle truck will still be kicking it around Tampa Bay, just in a more limited capacity. She says that the truck will focus more on large events and catering gigs instead of pop-ups at local coffee shops and restaurants.
And if you can’t wait until the Pop Goes the Waffle brick-and-mortar location opens, make sure to visit its website where you can get liege waffles delivered to your doorstep, or catch Blossom slinging sweet treats throughout Tampa Bay at one one of these upcoming events.