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Progress: Iron Waffle brings new twist to the breakfast standard

LAKE SHORE--Berries of all kind. Nutella, Biscoff spread, peanut butter, caramel, marshmallow fluff, hot fudge, chocolate syrup, apple butter, honey, cream cheese, maple syrup. Nuts, goat cheese, bacon, meat, Oreos to peanut butter cups.

The Iron Waffle Coffee Company owner Stacy Stranne displays one of the Lake Shore shop's specialities. The Iron Waffle offers its signature pastry waffle, with chunks of pearl sugar, served with powdered sugar, to the build-your-own waffle, to its breakfast, savory and sweet speciality waffle menu items. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
The Iron Waffle Coffee Company owner Stacy Stranne displays one of the Lake Shore shop's specialities. The Iron Waffle offers its signature pastry waffle, with chunks of pearl sugar, served with powdered sugar, to the build-your-own waffle, to its breakfast, savory and sweet speciality waffle menu items. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
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LAKE SHORE-Berries of all kind. Nutella, Biscoff spread, peanut butter, caramel, marshmallow fluff, hot fudge, chocolate syrup, apple butter, honey, cream cheese, maple syrup. Nuts, goat cheese, bacon, meat, Oreos to peanut butter cups.

The list of toppings a customer can order on their "Iron Waffle" is long, and equally difficult to choose from for customers stopping in at the Iron Waffle Coffee Company.

The Iron Waffle Coffee Company is on Interlachen Road in Lake Shore, next to Sherwood Forest. Owner Stacy Stranne's opened her seasonal business in 2015 and the waffle company has become a place area residents and tourists want to visit. The business-open from Memorial Day to Labor Day-has gone so well that Stanne is in the process of opening another Iron Waffle in Colorado and she is considering whether to keep the business in Lake Shore open all year-round.

"It's been going great," Stranne said of business while sitting on the front patio of The Iron Waffle Coffee Company during a hot day in July. "I honestly didn't expect this. We have had good business. During our first weekend open I was taken back with everyone who came. People have been so supportive and like the waffles."

Stranne said the location by Sherwood Forest is perfect, as it's a cozy area nestled among towering pines and the area is known as a little community to the locals and visitors. People didn't have a place to go that was close and now they do, she said.

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The Iron Waffle offers its signature pastry waffle, with chunks of pearl sugar, served with powdered sugar. There are "build-your-own" waffles and the breakfast, savory and sweet speciality waffle menu items.

People can order a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin, bagel or, of course, a waffle. The Maple Liege Waffle is the restaurant's signature waffle topped with butter and local maple syrup.

Then there are the savory waffles-signature waffles topped with the right ingredients to please the customer, including The Bacon Goat, topped with goat cheese, bacon and honey, and The Skinny topped with vanilla yogurt, a choice of fruit and granola.

And then there are specialty waffles, for those with a sweet tooth. This menu offers refreshing ice cream sandwich to sweet waffles, like the S'mores, Peanut Butter Cup, Dirt Cake, Nutty Marshmallow. And not to be forgotten, the Pecan Cinnamon Roll, topped with cinnamon sugar blend, sweet icing, caramel sauce and pecans.

The waffle shop also offers hot and cold drinks, such as specialty coffee, Italian soda, lattes and chai latte to fruit smoothies and ice cream treats.

Stranne said when creating the menu, she researched several places around the country that made waffles to come up with her own menu. She said she chose waffle creations she thought people would want in the lakes area. She knew people would want breakfast so she added the breakfast items, added the savory and dessert items to have a good mix, trying to please everyone.

The Iron Waffle's top sellers are the waffle sandwiches and the breakfast items. Stranne said the maple bacon is a good seller. "Everyone loves bacon," she said.

Stranne, a 2008 Pequot Lakes High School graduate, always wanted to open a business, but not with food. She wanted a boutique or something with interior design. However, she said Nisswa has plenty of those businesses and not many specialty food places.

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"I thought this would be unique enough for people to come," she said. "People come because they are curious. ... The biggest hurdle was people thought they would be getting a really big waffle, and it's not. This is the original waffle, it's not the American waffle we have today. It is made out of dough and it is filling."

The idea of starting a waffle specialty shop came to Stranne while she was in Colorado with her boyfriend Jeremiah Duvall, who is a pipeline inspector. There she saw a food truck that sold dessert waffles with ice cream.

Funny thing was, Stranne had never eaten a waffle.

"I was never a big breakfast eater," Stranne said. "I had my first iron waffle on the food truck and the freaky thing was I fell in love with them."

Stranne began to research ways on how to start her own waffle food truck in Nisswa and ordered the heavy iron waffle maker. However, it sat in a box for a few years until Stranne was approached by John Poston, who owns the Iron Waffle building, which was the restaurant's old bunkhouse. He asked her if she wanted to lease it. Poston, along with Matt Annand and Nick Miller, operate 3 Cheers Hospitality LLC, overseeing Sherwood Forest, Prairie Bay and Lost Lake Lodge. Stranne said Poston thought it would be nice if she opened a business to complement Sherwood Forest.

Through those discussions, the Iron Waffle Coffee Company was created.

Stranne said they went through ups and downs when they first opened as they learned the perfect hours to be open and making sure the other daily operation tasks were going well. She said the first few weekends were swamped as summer just began. Stranne's friends and family helped pitched in to help.

Stranne has a staff of five, including Kay Saxvold, the business' baker.

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"I've known Kay all of my life," Stranne said. "She hired me at age 14 at the Dairy Queen in Nisswa and Pine River. I also hired my friend Sarah Markham, who also worked with us at the Dairy Queen. We all know each other's work ethic and get along great."

Everything at The Iron Waffle was going so well, Stranne opened another Iron Waffle in Springs, Colo., this past May. There are seven employees and the location is larger than the one in Lake Shore. However, the menu is similar.

Stranne said they also tried to decorate the Colorado house the same as the one in Lake Shore, to keep the cozy, rustic feel. Stranne said her former boss at Red Umbrella in Nisswa, PJ Overvold, helped her decorate the waffle house. The two of them in the past had decorated Sherwood Forest for the Christmas season.

Stranne said she is happy with how business is going at the two locations. She has been traveling back and forth to keep them running, but plans to hire the appropriate staff so she won't have to travel as much.

"This never would have been possible without the support of my family and friends," Stranne said. "They've stepped up to help me so many times. I also thank all the customers and employees, without them this wouldn't be possible."

Factbox

Business: The Iron Waffle Coffee Company.

Address: 8785 Interlachen Road, Lake Shore.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Employees: Five plus the owner.

The waffles: The mini-waffle is called the Liege, a richer, denser, sweeter and chewier waffle native to Eastern Belgium.

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