Press Waffle Co: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Founded by brothers Caleb and Bryan Lewis, Press Waffle Co. is a family-owned restaurant business that brings Belgian-style Liege waffles to eaters Stateside. The idea came to Bryan Lewis when he encountered the food while traveling in Europe and was instantly hooked on the delicacy, known for its yeast-based dough that turns them fluffy on the inside, while the addition of pearl sugar caramelizes the outside.

Not finding anywhere to buy them in his home base of Dallas once returning home, Bryan partnered with brother Caleb to make and sell the treats themselves. The duo started with a Press Waffle Co. food truck in their Texan city in 2016, where they offered customizable, sweet and savory versions of their waffles with an array of toppings, everything from Nutella waffles to chicken and waffles. In 2017, business was so good they were able to move to a brick-and-mortar location.

The interest eventually led them to Season 10, Episode 17 of "Shark Tank" where they pitched the billionaire investors on their business in the hopes of getting funding to continue with their mission of "[teaching] America a new way to waffle." During the episode, which filmed in mid-2018 and aired in early 2019), the Lewis brothers asked for a $200,000 investment in exchange for an 8% stake of the company.

What happened to Press Waffle Co. on 'Shark Tank'?

When Caleb and Bryan Lewis appeared on "Shark Tank," they billed their company Press Waffle Co. as producing real waffles, and leaned into their concept's European origins, comparative to the many mass-produced options available in the American market. The panel of investors literally ate it up, "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" at the samples they were provided. Four of the sharks made an offer — among them, Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, and Barbara Corcoran. Lori Greiner declined because she felt she couldn't match the other offers (though, she also declared the waffles "sick," in a positive way).

After some light grilling about their business, the Lewises indicated that they had concrete plans for another seven Press Waffle Co. locations to open, with letters of intent for affordable new locations, aiming for mostly gourmet food halls. Cuban offered them $350,000 for a 20% stake, while Corcoran offered either $200,000 for 15% of the company, or $400,000 for 30%. O'Leary took a different approach, offering a $200,000 loan in exchange for a 3% stake, while Herjavec offered a whopping $600,000 and told the brothers to name a percentage of ownership, but they felt this would require them to give up too much of the company.

In the end, the brothers favored Barbara's offer, as she was experienced with similar businesses like seafood restaurant Cousins Maine Lobster, but they negotiated with her, settling on a $300,000 investment for 15% of their company, and with that, the deal was sealed.

What happened to Press Waffle Co. after Shark Tank?

When the Press Waffle Co. "Shark Tank" episode aired, the company had just three small locations in malls and food halls, all in Texas, but had plans for a full-sized cafe, too. Almost immediately after the show, Caleb and Bryan Lewis reported a torrent of interest from potential franchise owners, with more than 400 interested parties. However, when speaking to Franchise Times, they suggested that they didn't want to go overboard signing up new franchisees, and that they'd likely whittle the interested group down to about 10 potential proposals.

Before appearing on "Shark Tank," Press Waffle Co. reported they had garnered $450,000 in sales, and when the series followed up on them during a segment in Season 11, the Lewises said they had done $1.3 million in sales since shark Barbara Corcoran joined them. As well, they had expanded outside Texas, with another food hall location in Oklahoma City, and also signed up their first franchisees.

The Lewis brothers hoped to expand quickly, telling media outlets that they planned to open 10 locations in 2019 and another 15 in 2020. Arguably, because it was so well-received by the sharks, their product didn't drastically change after they show. Some menu offerings like toppings may have shuffled slightly, but Liege waffles remain the centerpiece of the business.

Is Press Waffle Co. still in business?

Press Waffle Co. is very much still in business, although the company didn't expand at the rate that its owners expected in the years since appearing on "Shark Tank" in 2019 (COVID-19 also likely interfered with their plans). As of mid-2023, Press Waffle Co. has eight locations open — four in Texas (two each in the Dallas and Houston areas), and one location in Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. They have seemed to be pragmatic with the expansion, rolling them out slowly.

For example, the Colorado, Arkansas, and Missouri locations opened progressively throughout 2021 and 2022. Not every location has stayed in business, however. Press Waffle Co. has since closed down restaurants in Waco and Fort Worth Worth, Texas, although the reasons for the closures haven't been published.

In line with what the Lewis brothers suggested on the show, the waffle company has mostly stuck to mall and food hall locations, rather than opening larger, standalone restaurants. This approach originally drew compliments from shark Kevin O'Leary, as it allowed them to maintain a fairly high revenue relative to the spaces they were renting.

The waffles also seem to be people-pleasers: While this kind of dessert-focused business doesn't typically draw reviews from professional food critics, it still boasts predominantly positive reviews on public platforms like Google and Yelp. Plus, it offers something exotic that's not readily available in many of its locations, giving it a novelty factor.

What's next for Press Waffle Co.?

Press Waffle Co. seems to be chugging along steadily. It's still billed as a family business with Bryan and Caleb Lewis at the helm. In its pitch to potential franchisees, the company leans on the fact that they provide something fresh and in demand as Press Waffle Co. was early on the Belgian Liege waffle trend, while the product also jumps on the ever-popular brunch bandwagon.

It's clear that the company is planning to expand in the future, also open to the prospect of franchisees owning multiple locations. The exact value of the company is hard to estimate as no reliable numbers have been made publicly available beyond the $1.3 million in sales they shared in a "Shark Tank" followup episode in 2020.

At the moment, a new location is slated for the Atlanta area (which will be Press Waffle Co.'s first Georgia location). Other potential new locations don't appear to have been publicly announced as the owners have been largely mum after initially making a range of media appearances in the way they did after "Shark Tank."