Opening Monday: Social Misfits brings unusual waffles, art to Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Foodies will get their first taste of Ramen waffles Monday afternoon as Social Misfits celebrates its grand opening in Grand Rapids.

The milestone comes almost a year to the day owner Spencer Raymond first started moving on the ground-floor space in the triangular Residence Inn by Marriott hotel.

(A Dec. 17, 2021 photo shows the main dining area at Social Misfits, located in the ground floor of the Residence Inn by Marriott hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.)

“My four-year-old, he doesn’t eat anything other than peanut butter and jellies, chicken nuggets and waffles- Eggo waffles. And so I don’t know, it just grabbed ahold, at some point I said, “Waffles, there’s got to be a spot. And then lo and behold, there really, wasn’t a lot of savory waffles out there,” Raymond said.

That concept went into Raymond’s digital version of a Rolodex until a consulting job with Wahlburgers brought him to Grand Rapids’ newest hotel.

“I walked the Wahlburgers space here in Grand Rapids, just checking it out. And then the landlord’s rep showed me this space and said it was available,” Raymond said.

(A Dec. 17, 2021 photo shows the banquet overlooking the kitchen at Social Misfits, located in the ground floor of the Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.)

About six months later, the hotel contacted Raymond again and he began pitching his concept: a waffle, cocktail and coffee restaurant called Social Misfits.

Raymond teamed up with James Beard four-time semifinalist Philip Speer and acclaimed mixologist Lauren Paylor to create the menu, which features 10 cocktails and a dozen savory and sweet waffles.

Some waffles are best shared, like the salmon and cream cheese RBG waffle croquettes and the Peter Parker churro-like waffle. Others push the boundaries, like Raymond’s favorite: a waffle filled with ramen noodles and topped with a soft-cooked egg, Japanese furikake seasoning and scallions, dubbed Yasuke.

“I loved it. Just the strangest, most flavorful thing I’ve had in a very, very long time. And I’m excited for people to try it. If I can do anything to… pique someone’s interest to try something just completely off the grid and wild- that. Just try that,” he said.

Social Misfits is also bringing The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. to West Michigan. The Detroit-based company will operate a café inside Social Misfits, partnering with the restaurant to serve up coffee, espresso drinks and cocktails, like an espresso martini and a White Russian with a twist.

(A Dec. 17 photo shows a glass of Social Misfits’ rum milk punch.)

Brand development director Brad Goulding said Great Lakes Coffee creates its own lavender syrup in house, uses only natural sweeteners and offers a rotating selection of pour-over coffees sourced from small farms and roasted in small batches.

(A Dec. 17, 2021 photo shows the bar area in Social Misfits, used by The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co.)

“People are caring about the sourcing. They’re caring about the story. They’re caring about the ingredients. They’re caring about it not being flavored. So nothing we touch is flavor. We don’t do K-cups. We don’t do frack packs… It’s about true coffee experience done the right way,” Goulding said.

(A Dec. 17, 2021 photo shows a lavender latte made by The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co., located in Social Misfits.)

Visitors to Social Misfits will have plenty to talk about after glimpsing the “plethora of oddities” throughout the 2,700-square-foot space. Pop culture tributes blanket every room of Social Misfits, from a portrait of Pennywise to Raymond’s favorite: A picture of Chunk from “The Goonies” doing the “Truffle Shuffle.”

“(It’s) just different eclectic art and stuff that makes you laugh, stuff that makes you just kind of scratch your head, stuff that inspires you, stuff that brings you back, nostalgia. It’s a mix of all of that,” Raymond said.
One thing you won’t find inside Social Misfits is a television.

“I didn’t put a TV in this restaurant for a reason,” Raymond said. “I feel like it takes away from that conversation that should be had when you’re going out and enjoying a meal with somebody or enjoying a cocktail with somebody or a cup of coffee and getting to know, you know, getting to know somebody better or meeting up with friends.”

Social Misfits is more than a name to Raymond. He says while he may not look the part on his family’s Christmas card, he considers himself a misfit and he thinks everyone else should, too.

(A Dec. 17, 2021 photo shows messaging on the wall at Social Misfits, located in the ground floor of the Residence Inn by Marriott hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.)

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be like a negative connotation. I think it should just some something that’s different about one person or another,” he explained. “This day and age, I think celebrating those differences is a good thing. I think it’s somebody’s superpower to be different and eclectic.”

Social Misfits will be open to walk-ins only. Regular business hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

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