No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same cult following as waffle house breakfast 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 more than 2,000 locations. Slinging humble breakfast fare 24 hours a 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 inevitably call you “honey”? Likely some combination of all 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, together with a first-person narrative from the former line cook titled Since the Waffle Burns in addition to one with 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 of its founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., die in just 2 months of merely one another. Here now, a peek back at the legend, as well as for fans near and far, all that you should find out 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 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 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, what they most wanted customers to buy).
The first Waffle House is now a museum. The business began franchising in 1960 and initially grew slowly, but expansion acquired in the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across an entire half 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 business claimed that it uses two percent of all 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 – what the hell does “scattered, smothered, and covered” mean? True Waffle House devotees have their hash brown orders committed to memory, however for everybody else, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” describes spreading the hash browns out over the grill so that 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 could also just say to hell 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 susceptible to plenty 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 highly esoteric visual coding system. By marking plates with butter pats, mini tubs of grape jelly, and other condiments like mayo packets and pickles in a variety of, highly specific arrangements, servers have the ability to communicate to cooks what food should be prepared for each plate. For instance, to indicate a purchase of scrambled eggs with wheat toast, a tub of jelly is positioned on the larger oval plate upside down on the six o’clock position. (Good luck memorizing this system until you actually work there; average folks will just have to look on with awe.)
Famous People Love Waffle House. Though Waffle House is prized as a refuge for the common people, lots of celebrities have likewise pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Wafflehouse menu has played host to numerous traveling musicians and earned itself a lot of references: Inside the track “Welcome to Atlanta,” Jermaine Dupri raps, “After jpgpiy party it’s the Waffle House/If you happen to been here you know what I’m talkin’ about.” At least one 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 use 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 can be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.