Keeping Customers Cool

03 Jul 2024

Dolly Llama Waffle Master keeps customers cool with unique sweet treats

By Monica Kreber

Photos by Yevgeniy Soldatenko

Skip the syrup – these waffles make customers scream for ice cream.

Nestled in the corner of the Wando Crossing shopping center in Mt. Pleasant is the new Dolly Llama Waffle Master, a shop that is home to a new dessert concept that is sure to keep customers nice and cool this summer.

The shop’s specialty is waffles loaded with ice cream—and other goodies—as well as milkshakes. Waffles can come slathered in cookies, Nutella, fruit, candy and more.

As it turns out, llamas interact very well with people; they are social, friendly and outgoing – and this is just the vibe that Candace McNerny, a married mother of three, has been shooting for ever since she and her husband, Michael, held the shop’s grand opening last November that included an actual llama.

The McNernys own and operate this new dessert hotspot, but they would be quick to say that it is not just about the waffles and ice cream—it is about the experience.

“There’s always good music on, there’s always happy people—jovial people,” Candace said, adding, “I would say the vibe is definitely joy.”

The Dolly Llama is actually part of a franchise that started with its flagship location in Los Angeles in 2017. It now has more than a dozen shops across the country. The franchise is named after a real llama named Dolly that one of the franchise founders met in the South of France. 

The McNernys were introduced to the franchise as they started making their way to the Lowcountry from Nevada a few years ago; Candace got her first taste of Charleston when her oldest daughter was applying to colleges and ended up being accepted to The Citadel. 

For Candace, visiting Charleston for the first time was like love at first sight.

“From the moment I got off the plane…something inside me told me this was where I was supposed to be,” she said. “It was a goal of mine to eventually get here.” In June, the family will celebrate two years living in the Lowcountry.

While making their plans to move to Charleston, the McNernys explored different dessert eateries and were introduced to the Dolly Llama franchise. Candace said she felt connected to the franchise’s commitment to making visits to any of its shops an experience; Candace values “old-school” hospitality and customer service, which the McNernys have found in working with the Dolly Llama.

“I believe that my team has already made an impact on the Charleston community,” Candace said. “Our reviews speak for themselves and my guests’ experience is the most important thing to me, which is kindness and hospitality.” 

Candace said that from her experience, the overall feeling people get when they come into the Dolly Llama is excitement.

“I think the environment inside the shop is joyful because people can’t contain their excitement when they walk in,” she said. “It’s a fun, interactive product and adults literally turn into the proverbial ‘kid in a candy store’—my favorite is when adult men load on the rainbow sprinkles.”

The Dolly Llama offers Liege and Bubble waffle combinations; the Liege waffle is a traditional Belgium brioche-like dough mixed with pearl sugar. The Bubble waffle is a Hong Kong street food egg batter waffle that is slightly crispy on the outside, soft and custardy on the inside. It has round bubbles that are formed when being prepared in the waffle iron. 

The shop’s number-one seller is the Dolly’s Dream, which pairs well with either type of waffle; it features their Blue Monster ice cream (blue vanilla ice cream) with Oreo cookies and cookie dough, topped with Nutella, brownies and strawberries. 

A majority of the ice cream the shop carries is Bluebell Ice Cream, although the shop also carries handmade vegan and specialty flavors provided by Cookies and Creme Jax Beach, a husband-and-wife team from Jacksonville. Some of the vegan flavors include birthday cake, peanut butter chocolate, matcha and ube (pronounced “oo-bey”), the shop’s most popular flavor which is a traditional Philippine flavor derived from a purple yam.

The McNernys are looking to do events that bring the community together, as well as continue to grow the team they have in place and keep on finding ways to make a trip to the Dolly Llama as sweet as its waffles.

“The summer is here and I am really looking forward to seeing lots of happy faces,” Candace said.

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