Simply Wafflez: The Hornchurch restaurant owners who hope to 'overcome stereotypes'

Simply Wafflez

Owners of Simply Wafflez Dayo, 36, and Lara Oluwamuylwa, 38 - Credit: Simply Wafflez

A Hornchurch couple are hoping to change society's perceptions of success as they enter their second year as award-winning black business owners.  

Parents-of-two Dayo and Lara Oluwamuylwa opened Simply Wafflez at Station Lane in June last year.   

Although the 36- and 38-year-old both work full-time jobs alongside running the restaurant - Dayo in investment banking and Lara as an SEN teacher - they were crowned best newcomer in the Havering Small Business awards in March. 

The couple pride their business on offering “outstanding customer service”, they said. This includes keeping prices affordable as the cost-of-living crisis strips many families of the ability to afford treats, because Dayo and Lara said they “love to see joy on people’s faces”.  

“Our service could change someone’s life in five minutes and that’s incredible," said Lara.  

Simply Wafflez

Lara and Dayo - Credit: Simply Wafflez

Dayo said upholding a good reputation has been instilled in him from his younger years. 

“Being a black business, growing up I remember my headteacher once said to me: ‘It’s tough because as a black man you have to work twice as hard’, and that’s something I've always had to do," he said. 

He said, when setting up Simply Wafflez, the duo were concerned about how a black-owned business would be received - and they have faced comments about the race of staff, Dayo said.

“People don’t say it on purpose but it’s ingrained and there is a stigma there due to the media," he said.  

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“We love that we get to overcome stereotypes when people come in and see we’re so pleasant.  

“We’re changing somebody’s perspective to the point where they don’t see us as black, they see us as people,” added Dayo.   

Having been married since 2012, the pair set their sights on becoming entrepreneurs in 2018 after visiting a franchise exhibition and agreeing to peruse a “side hustle”.  

Sweet waffle

A sweet Simply Wafflez treat - Credit: Simply Wafflez

They launched a dessert franchise in Station Lane in 2019.

However, the couple felt they could “offer much better” than the franchise by introducing new products, changing aspects of the restaurant and having a “long-term vision” they could both enjoy, said Dayo.  

The most sought-after item was waffles, they found, and Simply Wafflez was born.  

Dayo said their time as franchise owners saw them deal with some “unscrupulous characters”, but “it’s good as it gave us experience and wisdom and that’s how you grow".

Simply Wafflez offers a range of sweet and savoury dishes including waffles with chicken, sticky toffee pudding and milkshakes.  

Lara said their waffle-focused menu is unique as the battered dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert and made in under five minutes – catering to the age of instant gratification.  

“We’re building a brand that will be a household name and that isn’t just about dessert,” said Lara.  

Chicken and waffle

Chicken 'n’ Wafflez dish - A hot waffle served with four southern fried chicken strips with a choice of BBQ sauce, piri piri hot sauce or cheese sauce - Credit: Simply Wafflez

 

Lara and Dayo extended their thanks to the Hornchurch community and their pastor, Victor Darteh of Elpis Christian Ministries, who has supported them in owning their own business and property.