No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same popularity as Waffle House. Since its launching in Atlanta some 60 in the past, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now expansive across 25 U.S. states using more than 2,000 locations. Slinging humble breakfast fare 24 hours a day, Waffle House inspires deep and unyielding devotion 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 in some way taste better when you’re intoxicated? The waitresses that undoubtedly call you “honey”? Likely some combination of all the above, plus a small amount of that inexplicable Southern diner magic – call 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 As the Waffle Burns as well as one by way of a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel In accordance with Waffle House breakfast prices. The chain, which claims to 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 look back on the legend, and for fans near and far, everything you need to find out about Waffle House.
Your First Step – The initial Waffle House made its debut in 1955 within the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The vision: combine fast food, available round the clock, 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 the best way to run it.’” They named it Waffle House because waffles were probably the most profitable menu item (and thus, the things they most wanted customers to buy).
The initial Waffle Property is now a museum. The business began franchising in 1960 and in the beginning grew slowly, but expansion acquired inside the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a complete 50 % of the 50 continental states, even though it’s concentrated within the South, Waffle Houses can be obtained as far north as Ohio so that as far west as Arizona. Waffle House remains a privately owned company today – Rogers’s son, Joe Rogers Jr., is currently the chairman – and will not disclose annual sales figures, nevertheless in 2005 the organization claimed it uses two percent of eggs created in the U.S.
The Key Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House for the first time requires becoming versed in a new vernacular – exactly what the hell does “scattered, smothered, and covered” mean? True Waffle House devotees have their own hash brown orders committed to memory, however for everyone else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” refers to spreading the hash browns out throughout the grill therefore they get crispy throughout – otherwise, they’re cooked in a steel ring – and is among the mostly commonly heard terms thrown around at WH; many also order them “well-done.” Another topping options 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 by using it and order them “all just how.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Like most any other diner, orders at Waffle House are susceptible to lots of customization, through the various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to those 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 including mayo packets and pickles in different, highly specific arrangements, servers can communicate to cooks what food should be prepared for each plate. As an example, to indicate a purchase of scrambled eggs with yousvj toast, a tub of jelly is positioned on a larger oval plate upside-down on the six o’clock position. (Best of luck memorizing this technique except if you actually work there; everyone else will surely have to look up with awe.)
Famous Everyone Loves Waffle House. Though Waffle Home is prized as a refuge for that common people, plenty of celebrities have also pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House has played host to numerous 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/Should you ever 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 also the Blowfish have a cover album titled “Scattered, Smothered, and Covered.” Oddly enough, WH also possesses its own record label, breakfast-themed cuts (think “Make Mine With Cheese” and “There’s Raisins inside my Toast”) from which can be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.