No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same cult following as Waffle House. Since its beginning in Atlanta some 60 in the past, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now expansive across Twenty five U.S. states using more than 2,000 locations. Slinging modest breakfast fare 24 hours a day, Waffle House inspires deep and unyielding loyalty in diners like few restaurant chains (except maybe Whataburger) can. Will it be the cheap prices? The no-frills atmosphere? Those illustrious hash browns that by some means taste better when you’re intoxicated? The waitresses that inevitably call you “honey”? Likely some combination of all of the above, plus some that inexplicable Southern diner magic – consider it the Waffle House je ne sais quoi.
The chain has inspired numerous books, including a first-person narrative from the former line cook titled Since the Waffle Burns in addition to one by a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel Based on www.allfoodmenuprices.org/waffle-house-menu-prices. The chain, which states to have sold its billionth waffle sometime in 2015, recently saw both its founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., die within just 2 months of merely one another. Here now, a peek back at the legend, and then for fans near and far, all you need to know about Waffle House.
The Start – The first Waffle House made its debut in 1955 inside the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The vision: combine fast food, available 24 hours a day, with table service. Co-founder Forkner once explained how he and Rogers, who have been neighbors, started the chain: “He said, ‘You develop a restaurant and I’ll explain to you the best way to run it.’” They named it Waffle House because waffles were the most profitable menu item (and thus, the things they most wanted customers to order).
The first Waffle House is now a museum. The company began franchising in 1960 and in the beginning grew slowly, but expansion found in the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across an entire half of the 50 continental states, despite the fact that it’s concentrated in 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, but in 2005 the company claimed it uses two percent of eggs manufactured in the U.S.
The Key Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House the very first time requires becoming versed in a new vernacular – just what the hell does “scattered, smothered, and covered” mean? True Waffle House devotees have their hash brown orders committed to memory, but also for everyone else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” refers to spreading the hash browns out throughout the grill so that they get crispy all-around – 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.” One other topping choices are smothered (sautéed onions), covered (melted American cheese), chunked (pieces of ham), diced (tomatoes), peppered (jalapeños), capped (grilled mushrooms), topped (chili), or country (smothered in sausage gravy). Diners could also just say to hell with it and order them “all just how.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Like the majority of every other diner, orders at Waffle House are subject to lots of customization, from your various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to people signature hash browns. To ensure order accuracy and kitchen efficiency, Waffle House staff have their own 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 various, highly specific arrangements, servers have the ability to communicate to cooks what food should be prepared for each plate. For instance, to indicate an order of scrambled eggs with yousvj toast, a tub of jelly is placed on the larger oval plate upside-down at the six o’clock position. (All the best memorizing this technique except if you actually work there; the rest of us will just need to look up with awe.)
Famous Everyone Loves Waffle House. Though Waffle House is prized as 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 many traveling musicians and earned itself plenty of references: Within the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After the party it’s the Waffle House/If you happen to been here do you know what I’m talkin’ about.” One or more rap music video has been filmed in a Waffle House parking area, and nineties sensation/current butt of endless jokes Hootie and 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 is often heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.