Sure, the menu at Waffles & Soul offers soul food standards like fried chicken, collard greens, candied yams and mac-and-cheese. But that’s not the only kind of soul Ralph Mann was going for when he and his partner created this Bellport eatery.
“It’s the feeling you get at family reunions,” he said, “at barbecues and picnics — any time the family gets together.” And it’s a musical vibe too. Waffles & Soul’s soundtrack is 100% ‘70s soul: Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Al Green, Stevie Wonder.
Mann, a self-described jack-of-all trades, is a trained barber who has also owned retail shops and, before Waffles & Soul, co-owned a wing pop-up. In March 2020, he decided to sign the lease on this shop at the intersection of Station Road and Montauk Highway.
Wings and tenders are the main meat event here. As for the waffles, they came about in a roundabout way: “I love bread,” he said, “but it seemed like no one was eating it anymore. It doesn’t completely make sense — maybe it’s because they are sweet — but people are happier to eat a waffle.”
Wings and fries are $12; waffles are $4. The “Classic” — four wings on a waffle with two sides — is $14. Mann combined a red-velvet waffle with a deep-fried lobster tail in a dish he calls “the Red Sea” ($22). The “soul tower” ($16) is a pileup whose base is a mac-and-cheese waffle topped with a fried chicken breast, candied yams and the house sweet-spicy syrup. There’s also a fried-whiting sandwich on Texas toast, pan-seared salmon and more.
The two-plus years between signing the lease and opening Waffles & Soul in June were stressful, to say the least. “COVID was just the first thing that got in the way,” Mann said, “then permitting, construction, inflation, staffing.” Actually, his staffing problem has been largely solved by recruiting family members. The family connection runs through the recipes, too. The fried chicken recipe is his grandmother’s, the iced tea is his mother’s, the lemonade is his father’s.
Waffles & Soul is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 10 p.m. and Sunday to 5 p.m. 461 Station Rd, Bellport; 631-803-2658, instagram.com/wafflesandsoul