No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite exactly the same popularity as Waffle House near me. Since its founding in Atlanta some 60 years ago, 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 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 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 – call 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 Since the Waffle Burns as well as one by way of a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel In accordance with Waffle House. The chain, which states have sold its billionth waffle sometime in 2015, recently saw each of its founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., die within just two months of merely one another. Here now, a glance back on the legend, as well as for fans near and far, all you need to learn about Waffle House.
The Beginning – The 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 had 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 the most profitable menu item (and thus, what they most wanted customers to order).
The first Waffle Home is now a museum. The business began franchising in 1960 and initially grew slowly, but expansion acquired within the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a complete 50 % of the 50 continental states, and though it’s concentrated in the South, Waffle Houses can be found as far north as Ohio and as far west as Arizona. Waffle House remains a privately held company today – Rogers’s son, Joe Rogers Jr., has become the chairman – and fails to disclose annual sales figures, but in 2005 the business claimed that it uses two percent of eggs created in the U.S.
The Key Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House the very 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 focused on memory, but for all others, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” identifies spreading the hash browns out over the grill so they get crispy all around – 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 (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 along with it and order them “all the way.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Similar to most any other diner, orders at Waffle House are susceptible to a lot of customization, from your various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to people signature hash browns. To make certain 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, and other condiments such as mayo packets and pickles in various, highly specific arrangements, servers are able to communicate to cooks what food should be ready for each plate. For instance, to indicate an order of scrambled eggs with wheat toast, a tub of jelly is placed on a larger oval plate upside down at the six o’clock position. (Good luck memorizing this system unless you actually work there; the rest of us will simply need to look on with awe.)
Famous People Love Waffle House. Though Waffle Home is prized as a refuge for that common people, a lot of celebrities have also pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House near me has played host to numerous traveling musicians and earned itself lots of references: In the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After jpgpiy party it’s the Waffle House/If you ever 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 and also the Blowfish use a cover album titled “Scattered, Smothered, and Covered.” Oddly enough, WH also has 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.