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THURSdAy, dECEMBER 3, 2009THE BROWN dAILy HERALdPAGE 2
“We ha no iea what we were oing”
— Erik Ornitz ’10, Van Wafels creator
small problem. “We had no clue what
we were doing,” Ornitz said. Armed
with recipes rom the Internet, a small
wae iron and simple ingredientslike cinnamon, eggs and butter, he
and Pruisken made the frst o many trial batches.
“It was very experimental,” Ornitz
said, “trying to fgure out a recipe.”
In the middle o October last year,
they fnally decided to give the public a
taste o their product. Ater 11 straight
hours o baking, Van Waels held a
sale on the Main Green and sold every
last cookie — including the ones they
prepared on-site. Ater a second suc-
cessul sale, the duo began making
plans to expand.
stoopwl, ot ou ploolt p oo
Pruisken spent winter break re-
searching Holland’s stroopwael ac-
tories and returned with an industrial wae iron and a new source o advice
— the Dutchman who sold Pruisken
the iron. He oered Pruisken words o
wisdom on how to “tweak (the) recipe
and optimize the cookies,” he said.
Though Ornitz said he andPruisken “get more efcient” eachtime they make the cookies, it is a “labor-intensive process” that they
still take on themselves. The dough is
baked, pressed in the iron and sliced
so they can pour on the caramel layer
and put the cookie’s two sides back
together. “Every single one must becrated by hand,” he said.
“We joke we should have just made a chocolate chip cookie,” Or-
At best, the duo can “make 150cookies in an hour,” Pruisken said,
adding that Van Waels has begun to
collaborate with the University’s Divi-sion o Engineering “to streamline the
whole production process.”
Ater moving to a bigger kitchen,
obtaining a ood license and building a ollowing with three Main Green bake
sales, Van Waels started pitching tolocal caes.
“Most places that we’ve gone tohave been really receptive,” Ornitz
said. “We oer them a product that’sreally unique, and a brand and a cus-tomer base. It’s mutually benefcial.”
The team frst approached the Blue
Room. “I thought it would be a great
opportunity to have a unique product in our unit,” said Linda Whittaker, as-
sistant manager o retail operations or
Brown Dining Services.
Pruisken brought samples to Whittaker and made the pitch that
the cookies were “a unique product to
the area, possibly even the country,”
Whittaker said. “He really just had allhis ducks in a row in order to present
the product to us in a proessional
Van Waels cookies debuted in theBlue Room on Nov. 23 and sold out in
two days, Whittaker added.
Blue State Coee and the MeetingStreet Cae have quickly ollowed suit,
introducing the cookies this week,
and the duo has also reached out to
the Rhode Island School o Design,
While the edgling business is
“still in the red,” he said, they project
that they will start turning a proft
mo t pl tut
Despite the challenges they have
aced in balancing schoolwork with
running a small business, Van Waels’
ounders said there’s also a silver lin-ing in being students with a start-up.
“One o the cool things about being
a young entrepreneur is that peopleare excited or you,” Ornitz said.
Van Waels was the frst student business to pitch to Whittaker, shesaid. “It’s so abulous that they had
the initiative to do what they’ve done,”
“There are really no shortcuts
when you’re starting rom the ground
up,” Ornitz said. He pointed to the
added difculty o being so young.
“When you’re older, you have cre-dentials, you have fnancial backing,”
he said. “At this age, it takes a lot more
Pruisken said the business’s evolu-tion was “very ad hoc,” citing the pair’s
lack o experience. They’ve receivedadvice and support rom Barrett Ha-
zeltine, proessor emeritus o engi-
neering, “since the very beginning,”Pruisken said.
‘Utl t tt ’
For now, Van Waels’ oundersare “taking it one month at a time,”Ornitz said. The two are explor-ing new opportunities — and evena chocolate version o their classic
“Our vision is pretty grand, but
there are a lot o steps beore we canrealize that,” he said.Pruisken and Ornitz don’t plan to
let their impending graduation stopthem rom bringing their plans to
Pruisken said he plans to continuerunning the business. Where it will be
located and how many people are on
the payroll “depends on how things
unold,” he said, and “on unding.”
Ornitz, who will be working in New
York ater graduating, said he will “be
involved until the bitter end” despitethe change in location.“That’s who we are, we’re wae-cookie makers,” he said. “It’s not thenext big health invention, it’s not thenext big cure to a disease. It’s some-
thing simple that you enjoy in your
lie.”Health’s distribution protocol.Still, not all students are lining upto get the vaccine.
Alex Wankel ’11 said he is not plan-ning to get the inoculation because thepotential risks o the vaccine outweigh
“They just came out with this vac-
cine and I don’t think it’s very well
understood,” Wankel said.
The swine u is “a lot like other
us, so I’m not worried about it,” he
added. “It would be inconvenient toget sick, but I’m sure I could man-
age.” Tim Terhaar ’11 said he is bank-
ing on a strong immune system. “I’ve
never gotten the u in the past,” he
On the other hand, Halie Rando
’11, a ormer Herald copy editor, saidshe was in a rush to receive the im-
munization because o her asthma. “I
I get (the H1N1 virus) I’ll be in really big trouble,” she said.
Between e-mails rom the director
o Health Services, table slips in the
dining halls and, or some, additional
e-mails rom the athletic director or
residential counselors, students said
they elt well inormed about the vac-
Students didn’t all know the lo-
gistics, such as having to wait or 15minutes ater the vaccination in case
o an allergic reaction, and some were
anxious about FluMist, the nasal spray
through which the vaccine is admin-
istered to individuals without specifc
health concerns.Kate Carbone ’12 said she heard,
but highly doubts, a story about some-
one who “can only walk backwardsnow” because the spray activated a latent neurological disorder. Rosen-baum similarly heard rom a peer that she should not kiss anyone or
48 hours ater getting the immuniza-tion.In reality, the risks o the vaccineare no greater than or any other in-
uenza vaccine, Wheeler said, addingthat the only possible side eects are
rare allergic reactions.
Most students who got the vaccinesaid they booked appointments mainly
because, like Sophie Kainen ’12, they
fgured that “there’s nothing worse
than getting the u during fnals.”“There’s nothing to lose,” Kainenadded.
V w , T
Courtes of Van Wafels
Van Wafels, once sol onl on the Main Green, are now available in theBlue Room, Meeting Street Cafe an Blue State Coffee.
needs to be regular visits,” hesaid. “Since there’s a limit, it’s
difcult.”Students in need o more ses-
sions usually ask or an outside
reerral ater a ew appointments
with Psych Services, Johnson
Besides increasing the number o appointments available, Johnson
said, the new position will “some-
what decrease the waiting period”
or sessions. Students normally
have to wait about a week or anappointment, she said, but about
25 percent o students have to wait
Immediate appointments arealways available to students in a crisis, said Margaret Klawunn,
vice president or campus lie and
student services. “Those needs
will always be met.”
The student who spoke to TheHerald said his waiting time or an
appointment was just three days,
and he was reassured that i hehad an emergency, he could see
a psychologist immediately.In order to aord the new po-
sition, the University “reduced a
couple o positions at Health Ser-
vices and restructured the admin-
istration,” Klawunn said.
Brown’s psych services, noted
the NEASC report, has ewer re-sources available than other peer institutions.
“Most (other institutions) have
unlimited number o appointments
or are oering more than we are,”Klawunn said. But “we are making
improvements as we can” — asevidenced by the new position,
Interviews or the position will not begin until ater winter break, Johnson said. Though it remains unclear when the new
psychotherapist will be hired, shesaid she hopes the position can beflled as early as the middle o the
Several students interviewed
by The Herald were unaware that
Psych Services restricted visits.Perry Ashenelter ’13 said that though she has not used PsychServices, she was surprised to
hear they had a limitation on ses-
sions. “It would probably deter
people rom going when they actu-
ally might need it,” she said.“To me that doesn’t seem likea problem because the point is to
know whether you want to con-
tinue therapy,” Vince Sghiatti ’13
said. “So i ater seven sessions you still need therapy, it’s prob-
ably good that you get a ull-timepsychologist.”
Ashenelter added that the ad-
dition o a new psychotherapist
would “probably be helpul.”
T o !