No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same cult following as Waffle House. Since its founding in Atlanta some 60 years back, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now expansive across 25 U.S. states with more than 2,000 locations. Slinging modest breakfast fare around the clock, Waffle House inspires deep and unyielding loyalty in diners like few restaurant chains (except maybe Whataburger) can. Is it the cheap prices? The no-frills atmosphere? Those illustrious hash browns that by some means taste better when you’re intoxicated? The waitresses that undoubtedly call you “honey”? Likely some combination of all of the above, plus a little bit of that inexplicable Southern diner magic – consider it the Waffle House je ne sais quoi.
The chain has inspired numerous books, such as a first-person narrative from a former line cook titled As the Waffle Burns in addition to one by way of a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel Based on Waffle House breakfast prices. The chain, which states have sold its billionth waffle sometime in 2015, recently saw both its founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., die in just two months of merely one another. Here now, a peek back at the legend, and then for fans near and far, all that you should know about Waffle House.
Your First Step – The first Waffle House made its debut in 1955 within the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The vision: combine fast food, available twenty-four hours a day, with table service. Co-founder Forkner once explained how he and Rogers, who had been neighbors, started the chain: “He said, ‘You develop a restaurant and I’ll show you the best way to run it.’” They named it Waffle House because waffles were the most profitable menu item (and for that reason, whatever they most wanted customers to acquire).
The initial Waffle House is now a museum. The business began franchising in 1960 and initially grew slowly, but expansion acquired inside the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across an entire half of the 50 continental states, despite the fact that it’s concentrated within the South, Waffle Houses are available as far north as Ohio and as far west as Arizona. Waffle House remains a privately owned company today – Rogers’s son, Joe Rogers Jr., is now the chairman – and fails to disclose annual sales figures, nevertheless in 2005 the organization claimed which it uses two percent of all eggs created in the U.S.
The Secret Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House the first time requires becoming versed in a new vernacular – what the hell does “scattered, smothered, and covered” mean? True Waffle House devotees get their hash brown orders dedicated to memory, however for all others, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” refers to spreading the hash browns out across the grill therefore they get crispy throughout – otherwise, they’re cooked within a steel ring – and is probably the mostly commonly heard terms thrown around at WH; many also order them “well-done.” Another topping alternatives are smothered (sautéed onions), covered (melted American cheese), chunked (bits of ham), diced (tomatoes), peppered (jalapeños), capped (grilled mushrooms), topped (chili), or country (smothered in sausage gravy). Diners can also just say to hell along with it and order them “all the way.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Similar to most every other diner, orders at Waffle House are susceptible to a lot of customization, from the various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to the people signature hash browns. To make certain order accuracy and kitchen efficiency, Waffle House staff have their own highly esoteric visual coding system. By marking plates with butter pats, mini tubs of grape jelly, along with other condiments like mayo packets and pickles in a variety of, highly specific arrangements, servers have the ability to communicate to cooks what food should be equipped for each plate. For example, to indicate your order of scrambled eggs with yousvj toast, a tub of jelly is positioned over a larger oval plate upside-down at the six o’clock position. (All the best memorizing this technique except if you actually work there; average folks will simply need to look on with awe.)
Famous People Love Waffle House. Though Waffle Home is prized being a refuge for that common people, a lot of celebrities have also pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House has played host to a lot of traveling musicians and earned itself lots of references: Inside the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After the party it’s the Waffle House/If you happen to been here you know what I’m talkin’ about.” One or more rap music video has become filmed in a Waffle House parking lot, and nineties sensation/current butt of endless jokes Hootie as well as the Blowfish have a cover album titled “Scattered, Smothered, and Covered.” Oddly enough, WH also features its own record label, breakfast-themed cuts (think “Make Mine With Cheese” and “There’s Raisins in My Toast”) from which may be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.