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Waffle Shop to close in August

The Waffle Shop, a local restaurant and art project run by Carnegie Mellon art professor Jon Rubin, will close its doors on Aug. 1. At the Waffle Shop, guests can eat waffles and participate in an in-shop television show. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Senior Photographer) The Waffle Shop, a local restaurant and art project run by Carnegie Mellon art professor Jon Rubin, will close its doors on Aug. 1. At the Waffle Shop, guests can eat waffles and participate in an in-shop television show. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Senior Photographer)

The Waffle Shop, located at 124 South Highland Ave., has become a unique part of the Pittsburgh arts community over the past four years. The Waffle Shop and the programs it facilitates will continue to operate through the summer. However, the popular combination art project and restaurant will close its doors on Aug. 1.

Although it serves primarily breakfast fare, the Waffle Shop is only open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays and from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Over waffles, patrons are invited to discuss art, politics, or anything they desire. The conversations are filmed and broadcast live, and highlight reels are released on the Waffle Shop’s website. The building also houses Conflict Kitchen, an affiliated project that sells takeout food from countries the U.S. is in conflict with.

“After four years of operation, I feel that [the Waffle Shop] has kind of run its course,” said Carnegie Mellon art professor Jon Rubin, one of the founders of the project. “We have to raise a lot of money to support the project. Our food sales cover about 40 percent, and the rest comes from foundation support. We get a lot of support from [East Liberty Development, Inc.], and our landlord’s been very generous with us. But it’s quite a bit of money to have to raise on a yearly basis, and I’m not sure we can keep doing it. We have fewer people coming to the project, so our numbers have been going down for the past year slowly.”

Rubin said that the Waffle Shop has had a successful four years. “I think it’s been an amazing run, especially for the students who have worked as employees,” he said. “All good things come to an end.”

Rubin plans to focus future efforts on Conflict Kitchen, which will soon be moving to a Downtown location to increase visibility.

The Waffle Shop’s closing will also have a large impact on some other programs, such as the Waffle Wopp, a talk show for teens run by the mentoring organization Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K.

“[The closing is] devastating to the Wopp, and we hope we can continue to run this program,” Jamar Thrasher, Chief Communications Officer for Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K., said. “We provide this service to over 2,000 students.”

In the past, the Waffle Shop has provided both equipment and its unique environment to the Waffle Wopp. Despite the loss this poses for his organization, Thrasher maintains a positive attitude.

“We still have a great relationship with the shop. We have a huge relationship with CMU. I think it’s great [Carnegie Mellon] students are involved; we really get to see the work ethic of theirs,” he said.

Sophomore art major Nathan Trevino said that late-night trips to the Waffle Shop are a College of Fine Arts tradition. “I know almost all the art school is going to miss the Waffle Shop. It was just a thing that we did. It was late, so we went and got waffles,” he said.

Trevino summed up his opinion of the Waffle Shop as a whole: “Go there now.”