The Waffle shop is a neighbourhood restaurant with an interactive component organized by Jon Rubin an artist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Inspired by the Seinfeld episode where Kramer rescues a Merv Griffen set from the garbage and sets it up in his living room, the waffle shop has a seventies style talk show stage set up in the back of the restaurant. The idea is that the waffles will lure people inside for food and get to participate in public storytelling. Its an experimental art project and forum for community engagement masquerading as a cafe .
There is a dedicated host sitting at a desk, sometimes a student and sometimes a community member with a mission is to engage that cafe’s clientèle in impromptu conversations about pretty much anything. The conversations run the gambit from Cotton Candy, roofies, and how Tupac is like gravity. The ‘talk show’ is streamed live on the Internet, and the best episodes are archived on the Waffle shop website.
“The shop is a public lab that brings together people from all walks of life to engage in dialogue, experimentation and the co-production of culture.” S
The purpose behind shop is to be a classroom for students from Carnegie Mellon, a business, a TV production studio, and a social catalyst. “Our customers are our funders, audience, and participants as we film during open hours, inviting interested patrons to express their unique opinions and personalities.” S
The restaurant also operates a ‘conflict kitchen’ takeout window that sells street food exclusively from countries that the United States is in conflict with. The take out window features a different country and dish every four months. To enliven the experience the store front changes every four months as well.
The packaging features background information on the represented country with facts about its people and misconceptions about their representation in mainstream media.
Kubideh Kitchen is an Iranian take-out restaurant that serves kubideh in freshly baked barbari bread with onion, mint, and basil. Developed in collaboration with members of the Pittsburgh Iranian community, the sandwich is packaged in a custom-designed wrapper that includes interviews with Iranians both in Pittsburgh and Iran on subjects ranging from Iranian food and poetry to the current political turmoil.
Through food, wrappers, programming, and daily interactions with customers, Conflict Kitchen creates an ongoing platform for first-person discussion of international culture and politics. In addition, the project introduces a rotating venue for culinary and cultural diversity in Pittsburgh, as future iterations will focus on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Venezuela.
The Waffle Shop and Conflict Kitchen can be found at:
124 South Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206