The Sunshine City is brimming with brilliant entrepreneurs who add their own flavor to our small business cauldron. Sara Fludd, owner of Pop Goes the Waffle, has built a mobile empire that continues to entice and enchant the taste buds of local residents.
On August 29, residents can enjoy a free maple bacon liege waffle thanks to support from #GrowOnUs, a campaign by Grow Financial. The free waffle will be available beginning at 7am at the intersection of 56th Street and Park Boulevard North.
But what goes into bringing a business like Pop Goes the Waffle to life? Hard work, passion, perseverance, personality, and dedication, y’all. Sara Fludd possesses the qualities of all great small business owners. More than creating something for herself, Fludd has grown an opportunity for other locals to gain valuable work experience. Yes, my eyes light up anytime I see the Pop Goes the Waffle truck at a festival.
Pop goes the wild waffle
You can find Fludd’s famous waffles at local spots like Southside Coffee Bar, Kahwa Coffee. These aren’t just ordinary waffles, either. Fludd has made varieties like the Hot Cheeto Waffle Dog, a Fruity Pebble-covered waffle, sweet waffle donuts, Bacon Cinnamon Bun Waffle Pops, and hearty handheld chicken and waffles.
I passed along 10 questions to Sara Fludd to learn about her entrepreneurial journey.
What was your very first job?
I worked at the Wendy’s drive-thru in Conway, South Carolina the summer I turned 15.
What is the best advice you ever received about running a business?
I can’t attribute this to one person – but the gist of it is – play to your strengths. Focus on the things you do best and surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses. (For me – that means an ace CPA because a hate MATH!)
In your opinion, what is a perfect waffle?
Any waffle on our menu. 🙂
What do you look for in an employee?
High energy, punctuality, and the ability to handle long lines and challenging customers with a smile.
What is one other locally-owned business that you admire?
Are you trying to start a fight? Seriously …1??? ONE??? Well if I’m picking one – I’m picking Keep St Petersburg Local founded by the amazing Olga Bof. But in picking that one I am also picking ALL the KSPL member businesses because I admire them all.
A journey from South Carolina to the Sunshine City
Did you grow up in St Pete? If not, what drew you to St Pete?
I grew up in South Carolina – then lived in Georgia, Los Angeles, and Greenwich, CT. We moved to St. Pete in 2017 when our only child left for college. We chose St. Pete because I was tired of walking the dog in the snow, for the beaches, the affordable housing (in comparison to CT at least) and for the thriving small business community.
How do you see your business growing in 5/10 years?
I need a Magic 8 ball for this one! In the short term – we’re figuring out how to get our waffles directly to consumers. I don’t know if that means brick and mortar or a robust online store, but it will definitely start with the latter. I’m seeking ways to get our vegan friendly and gluten friendly to local customers – so we may be popping up again at more local markets or hosting special sale events at our production facility.
We are shifting some focus away from Blossom the waffle truck and using her exclusively for large events/festivals and catering only while we ramp up our list of wholesale clients. We are bursting at the seams at our 532 sq ft commissary – so a larger production facility is at the top of my to-do list. We want our waffles all over the state, then the southeast region, then the nation.
Not sure how yet – but to quote Walt Disney, “We keep moving forward…”
What’s the best customer reaction you’ve ever received?
Customers generally take a bite, close their eyes and moan. This happens quite frequently.
What it’s like owning a biz in the ‘Burg
What’s your favorite part about opening business in the Burg?
The incredibly supportive community – not just our incredible customers – many of whom have supported us since we were lugging a tent and portable generator around town; but I have the good fortune of having an amazing network of friends – mentors really – that own small businesses here. From Celine at Valhalla Bakery, to Chef Melly at Three Generations Food Truck, to Jen at Wandering Whisk, to Andy at Vanchetta, to Carlos at Clara Rose, to Katie and her Fine Cookies, to Zack at Funnel Vision, to Sarah at St Pete Ferments to Colleen the St Pete Taco Lady and so many, many more. All of these people have educated, encouraged and inspired me on this journey.
What my least favorite part about opening a business in the Burg. (I think it’s only fair to ask this response too – no business is all sunshine and roses.)
Paying the city for a food truck permit every year for the privilege of NOT being allowed to park my truck anywhere in the city. If I can only park on private property in the city, what exactly is this permit for?
It’s baffling and infuriating.
Describe your business in one sentence:
Pop Goes the Waffle is an innovative waffle company providing exceptional sweet and savory waffles and waffle pops.