What’s So Funny ’Bout Peace, Love, and Waffle Branding?

Sure, the name’s whimsical, but Dover-Foxcroft’s Peace, Love & Waffles takes brunch seriously.

Table full of waffles from Peace, Love & Waffles
By Brian Kevin
Photos by Sienna Renee
From our February 2023 issue

Among hashtagged images on Instagram, #pancakes has more than double the representation of #waffles, which seems to me an injustice. I could no more choose between them than pick a favorite child, but as a palette for creative expression, a pancake would seem to have nothing on a waffle, which both accommodates more elaborate toppings (thanks to its surface area and squares) and better lends itself to savory interpretations. Yet foodie photogs post far fewer waffle pics, which might be because of what the Portland Press Herald pointed out last year, in a piece explaining why waffles are restaurant-menu rarities even in epicurean Portland: waffle irons are space hogs, and while they crisp one waffle at a time, a griddle the size of two of them can turn out an armada of flapjacks. So pancakes proliferate, while it’s hard to go out for waffles.

Peace, Love & Waffles
1282 Bangor Rd., Dover-Foxcroft. 207-564-7700.
Waffles $8–$12 À la carte sides (bacon, eggs, hash browns, etc.) $3–$6
House Joe
Bangor’s Wild Life Coffee Company roasts the smooth house blend, which, if your breakfast isn’t sweet enough, you can have poured over cotton candy.
Flannel Fave
Among PL&W’s bestsellers is the Maine classic red-flannel hash: a cornbread waffle topped with beets, potatoes, and corned beef from Guilford’s Herring Brothers Meats.

Not so in Dover-Foxcroft, where Peace, Love & Waffles has 23 menu entrées, 22 of which are waffles. Owner Michael Begley envisioned a food truck when he first came to the Piscataquis River town, in 2019. An itinerant Kansan, he’d been running a gyro truck in Prescott, Arizona, that catered to a bar crowd, and it was a grind. So when his mom (herself a nomad who came to D-F for the scenery and affordable real estate) suggested they launch a waffle truck, he packed his bags for Maine. Then, a downtown space came up for rent, and they thought, why not? Peace, Love & Waffles opened there first. After COVID nixed indoor dining, though, Begley’s mom and stepdad put a kitchen and a ton of renovation into a 19th-century barn on their property east of town — an idyllic spot with fruit trees and room for an outdoor waffle garden — and, in 2021, the idiosyncratic restaurant reopened, even idiosyncratic-er.

At first, Begley worried his downtown regulars wouldn’t schlep six miles for their waffle fix. But schlep they have, and the waffle barn is a destination for brunch buffs from Bangor, 30 miles away, which is where I came from on a recent visit. My family scanned the chalkboard menu above the pellet stove, placed orders at the counter, then settled into the snug, maximally homey dining room, where six tables are surrounded by country bric-a-brac and wall-to-wall chalkboards full of coffee-klatch koans and Friends and Gilmore Girls quotes. Begley recently took over as sole proprietor, after his mom and stepdad moved to Missouri, but his mother’s cheery stamp is all over the décor.

The waffles? Superb! My kids went sweet: a mound of house-made whipped cream cheese crowned both the blueberry-cheesecake waffle, smothered in berries, and the Black Forest, atop a chocolate waffle with cherries (there’s a concise kids’ menu, but it’s basically all a kids’ menu, if your kids are hungry enough). My wife tucked into a feta- and spinach-topped beauty, one of several golden potato waffles made with spuds from nearby Smith’s Hideaway Farm. My chicken-and-waffles was an outstanding vehicle for several generous pours of addictive habanero-infused syrup, from G&M Maple Products, in neighboring Charleston. In season, PL&W gets produce from Stutzman’s Farm Stand, in Sangerville, and its apples, pears, blueberries, and black raspberries from right out back. The batter filling the kitchen’s five waffle irons? Good old Golden Malted.

And yep, every plate on the table was colorful and decadent and extremely Instagram friendly — although the friendliness that has mattered most to Begley has nothing to do with social media. “It’s crazy how much people have appreciated us here,” he says. “I mean, in Arizona, we made some good chicken gyros, but no one appreciated them. The response from people here has just been huge.”

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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