No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite exactly the same popularity as Waffle menu. Since its founding in Atlanta some 60 years ago, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now sprawling across 25 U.S. states with over 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 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, such as a first-person narrative from the former line cook titled Because the Waffle Burns in addition to one by way of a pastor called – naturally – The Gospel Based on Waffle House. 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 in just sixty days of one another. Here now, a peek back at the legend, and then for fans near and far, everything you need to know about Waffle House.
The Beginning – The initial 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 were 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 probably the most profitable menu item (and thus, the things they most wanted customers to buy).
The initial Waffle House is now a museum. The company began franchising in 1960 and initially grew slowly, but expansion acquired within the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a full 50 % of the 50 continental states, even though it’s concentrated within the South, Waffle Houses can be found 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., is now the chairman – and will not disclose annual sales figures, however 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 first time requires becoming versed in a new vernacular – exactly what the hell does “scattered, smothered, and covered” mean? True Waffle House devotees get their hash brown orders focused on memory, but for everybody else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” describes spreading the hash browns out across the grill so 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.” One other 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 may also just say to hell by using it and order them “all the way in which.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Like most some other diner, orders at Waffle House are susceptible to lots of customization, through the various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to the 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 different, highly specific arrangements, servers are able to communicate to cooks what food should be prepared for each plate. For instance, to indicate your order of scrambled eggs with wheat toast, a tub of jelly is put on a larger oval plate upside down in the six o’clock position. (Best of luck memorizing this system until you actually work there; the rest of us will just must look on with awe.)
Famous Everyone Loves Waffle House. Though Waffle House is prized being a refuge for that common people, lots of celebrities also have pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House delivery has played host to a lot of traveling musicians and earned itself plenty of references: In 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.” At least one rap music video has become filmed in a Waffle House car park, 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 inside my Toast”) from which may be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.