No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same popularity as Waffle House menu prices. Since its founding in Atlanta some 60 years back, 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 night and day, 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 somehow 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 – refer to it as 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 with a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel Based on Waffle House. 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 a single another. Here now, a peek back at the legend, and then for fans near and far, all you need to find out about Waffle House.
The Beginning – The very first Waffle House made its debut in 1955 in 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 demonstrate the best way to run it.’” They named it Waffle House because waffles were probably the most profitable menu item (and therefore, the things they most wanted customers to order).
The first Waffle House is now a museum. The organization began franchising in 1960 and in the beginning grew slowly, but expansion found within the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a complete 50 % of the 50 continental states, and 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 company claimed which it uses two percent of eggs produced in the U.S.
The Key Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House 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 dedicated to memory, but for everyone else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” describes spreading the hash browns out across the grill therefore they get crispy throughout – otherwise, they’re cooked in a steel ring – and is probably 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 (pieces 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 the way.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Like most any other diner, orders at Waffle House are subject to a lot of customization, through 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 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 are able to communicate to cooks what food should be equipped for each plate. As an example, to indicate a purchase of scrambled eggs with wheat toast, a tub of jelly is placed on the larger oval plate upside-down in the six o’clock position. (Good luck memorizing this method unless you actually work there; average folks will just have to look up with awe.)
Famous People Like Waffle House. Though Waffle Property is prized as being a refuge for your 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 plenty of references: Inside the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After jpgpiy party it’s the Waffle House/Should you ever been here do you know what I’m talkin’ about.” A minumum of one rap music video has been 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 within my Toast”) from which can be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.