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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Professor opens waffle bar downtown

<st Saturday at around midnight when almost all the stores in downtown Northfield were long closed, a place was still packed with Carleton students. At one point, about twenty customers were spotted standing in line waiting to order waffles from this restaurant. Opened on December 17th, Sweet Lou’s Waffle Bar is Northfield’s newest dining place on Division Street.

But why waffle? “The idea of opening a restaurant in Northfield started about three years ago,” said Professor Louis Newman, the president of Sweet Lou’s. In December 2004, Newman and his wife were on a trip to Israel to visit their son, Etan, who was then volunteering in Jerusalem. Etan took Newman to a small restaurant that served waffles and coffee. Newman observed that the restaurant was a favorite among young Israeli students, and that it always opened late.

After his trip to Israel, Newman had a vision of a waffle bar, where students can relax, hang out, talk to other people, and do their homework. Newman then began to work on turning his ideas into a reality. In the next several years, He would meet with many people to get opinions on hours, menu items, interior design, and the website layout of this future restaurant.

After three years of planning, Newman’s initial vision has become an actual waffle house at 303 Division Street. Walking into Sweet Lou’s, one would find square tables of varying heights to the side of the space. In the middle of the dining area are two sets of one-seater couches for those who prefer enjoying their waffles in a more relaxing way. To the right of the entrance is a smaller lounge with leather sofas, armchairs, and coffee tables. This setup, along with free wireless internet access and the high ceiling of the restaurant, provides diners with a spacious, comfortable environment that matches Newman’s vision of Sweet Lou’s—a waffle bar and coffee shop that offers a welcoming atmosphere where customers can “hang out, study, borrow wi-fi, or just relax.”

Newman also obtained advice from his nephews who were chefs working at high-end restaurants, and their advice proves invaluable to Sweet Lou’s innovative menu.
Sweet Lou’s offers a variety of waffles accompanied by interesting names. “Hail to the Maize and Blue,” probably referring to Carleton’s school spirit, is a waffle with Lemon and blueberry toppings. “Judy Garland” has peach and granola. But not all of Sweet Lou’s waffles are sweet; there is also a line of savory products. “Bob Dylan” is a waffle with smoked salmon, sour cream, and sliced cucumber, while “Minnesito Burrito” has cheddar, salsa, and sour cream spread on the waffle.

Not in the mood for a waffle? Biscotti, muffins, and other baked goods from Minneapolis’ renowned French Meadow Bakery are also available. The coffee, sold under a Sweet Lou’s label, will come from the Twin Cities as well.

Many customers respond favorably to Sweet Lou’s’s waffles. Rory Collins ’10 says, “I love their [Sweet Lou’s’s] waffles. I went there almost every day for the past couple of days.”

Since it opened in mid-December, Sweet Lou’s has served about 150 customers per day, a figure with which Newman is satisfied. He said that the waffle bar’s business has been quite good for a new restaurant that is still establishing a customer base.

Given the amount of work involved in starting the restaurant, however, some might have concerns about other obligations to the college that Newman has, who is both the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies and the Director of Judaic Studies at Carleton. When asked if being the president of Sweet Lou’s would distract him from the work of a college professor, Newman assures that he only has one full-time job—that is, teaching at Carleton. He said that he has never missed a class or a student appointment because of the waffle bar, and that he would never allow that to happen. Newman also made clear his role in the restaurant: he receives no salary from Sweet Lou’s and is only one of several owners of the waffle bar. Moreover, since Sweet Lou’s was open last December, Newman has become less involved in the management of the restaurant. Rick Davis and Dawn Holcomb, an experienced restaurant management team, is responsible for the daily operations of the waffle bar.

Sweet Lou’s is open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. everyday. However, those who are planning to visit the waffle bar this week will be disappointed. Sweet Lou’s is temporarily close because of a water leakage problem in the building. Sweet Lou’s will open again as soon as the repairing is finish and will place an announcement in the Carletonian. For more information about Sweet Lou’s Waffle Bar, including a complete menu, visit

At the time of this printing, Sweet Lou’s Waffle Bar is temporarily closed due to unspecified internal damages.

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