No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same cult following as Waffle House. Since its beginning in Atlanta some 60 years back, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now expansive across 25 U.S. states with over 2,000 locations. Slinging modest breakfast fare around the clock, Waffle House inspires deep and unyielding devotion in diners like few restaurant chains (except maybe Whataburger) can. Could it be the cheap prices? The no-frills atmosphere? Those illustrious hash browns that in some way taste better when you’re intoxicated? The waitresses that unavoidably 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, together with a first-person narrative coming from a former line cook titled Because the Waffle Burns as well as one by a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel Based on Wall house full menu. 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 one another. Here now, a look back on the legend, and for fans near and far, all that you should know about Waffle House.
The Start – 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 have been neighbors, started the chain: “He said, ‘You build a restaurant and I’ll show you how to run it.’” They named it Waffle House because waffles were by far the most profitable menu item (and for that reason, the things they most wanted customers to buy).
The first Waffle Home is now a museum. The company began franchising in 1960 and in the beginning grew slowly, but expansion acquired within the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a complete one half of the 50 continental states, and though it’s concentrated inside the South, Waffle Houses are available as far north as Ohio so that as far west as Arizona. Waffle House remains a privately held company today – Rogers’s son, Joe Rogers Jr., has become the chairman – and will not disclose annual sales figures, but in 2005 the organization claimed it uses two percent of eggs manufactured in the U.S.
The Trick Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House for the 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 own hash brown orders committed to memory, but also for everybody else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” identifies spreading the hash browns out throughout the grill so they get crispy all around – otherwise, they’re cooked inside a steel ring – and is probably the mostly commonly heard terms thrown around at WH; many also order them “well-done.” Another topping choices 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. Like the majority of some other diner, orders at Waffle House are subjected to plenty of customization, from the various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to people signature hash browns. To make sure 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, and other condiments such as mayo packets and pickles in a variety of, highly specific arrangements, servers can communicate to cooks what food should be equipped for each plate. For instance, 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. (Best of luck memorizing this system unless you actually work there; average folks will surely must look on with awe.)
Famous People Like Waffle House. Though Waffle House is prized being a refuge for your common people, lots of celebrities have likewise pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House has played host to many traveling musicians and earned itself plenty of references: In the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After the party it’s the Waffle House/If you ever been here do you know what I’m talkin’ about.” A minumum of one rap music video continues to be filmed in a Waffle House car park, and nineties sensation/current butt of endless jokes Hootie and also 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 inside my Toast”) from which may be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.