In mid-2015, Martín Madriz found himself in a difficult position—the loss of thousands of dollars in property investment and uncertain prospects of how to get his waffles off of the griddle and into grocery stores. He had just learned that the City of Watsonville had denied his business license and he would be unable to sell his product, The Green Waffle, due to permitting issues related to accessibility at the space he and his wife Blanca had rented for their production.
The county health department recommended that Martín contact El Pájaro Community Development Corporation (El Pájaro CDC) about using the Commercial Kitchen Incubator for his production space. “Having the kitchen as an option was definitely a turning point for us,” Madriz says.
Martín had been a nurse’s aide for twelve years when he decided to turn his green waffle recipe into a business. With his wife’s wholehearted support, he decided to leave his job and start a new venture. His family and friends had been eating and loving his recipe for the past few years. It went through several iterations of development including crepes and pancakes before he settled on the waffle.
“I love the practicality of the waffle; you can make it and freeze it. You can then toast it whenever you want it. Our kids love them, and that was a huge plus. I couldn’t be happier feeding them something healthy and that isn’t a frozen burrito or piece of toast,” he says.
The Green Waffle comes in four varieties made with only five ingredients. The first four are the same—egg whites, spinach, oats, and banana; Madriz also adds one of the following: yam, blueberry, cauliflower, or green apple. “I played with the recipe for about six months. I’d call myself a somewhat stubborn person. That stubbornness and not letting go often would get me into trouble. This time it’s paying off.”
The Green Waffle began production in the Commercial Kitchen Incubator at the start of 2016. It is distributed locally in four retail locations: Staff of Life Natural Foods in Santa Cruz, Deluxe Foods of Aptos, GNC and Second Street Café, both in Watsonville.
With their kids out of school for the summer, Martín and Blanca intend to add a few more retail accounts to their distribution now that they have more time to dedicate to the business. Ultimately, Martín aims to establish The Green Waffle as a healthful food brand with several product lines beyond waffles.
Martín credits El Pájaro CDC and the move into the Commercial Kitchen Incubator for helping his business achieve its modest success. “The exposure to other experienced entrepreneurs and knowing that we have access to professional advice, whether or not we always seek it out, gives me peace of mind.”