Waffle House

Scattered, Covered and Smothered

Down south, where I live, there is a Waffle House restaurant just about everywhere you go. It is the 24 hour a day place for breakfast or that late-night meal on your way home. My friend Tim’s Dad went there every morning for about 20 years for coffee and to meet up with his friends.

In 1955, Joe Rogers Sr. and Tom Forkner were living in Avondale Estates, GA (near where I live now), when they decided to open a 24-hour, sit-down restaurant for their friends and neighbors, focused on people on both sides of the counter.

Today, the Waffle House system is more than 1,900 locations in 25 states. All open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Good food with outstanding service has made it a beloved icon of the South for the past 60 years.

Waffle House is headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Part of their fame is that they are so prominent along Interstate highways in the South.

[as of 2022]

Locations

Alabama – 154
Arizona – 15
Arkansas – 44
Colorado – 10
Delaware – 3
Florida – 173
Georgia – 439
Illinois – 2
Indiana – 23
Kansas – 4
Kentucky – 63
Louisiana – 94
Maryland – 12
Mississippi – 88
Missouri – 40
New Mexico – 2
North Carolina – 182
Ohio – 77
Oklahoma – 16
Pennsylvania – 11
South Carolina – 169
Tennessee – 130
Texas – 117
Virginia – 63
West Virginia – 6

Obviously, they are famous for their delicious waffles. The waitresses yell out the orders (their version of diner lingo) that the cook, that is right there, somehow remembers and cooks fresh for you. Some of the jargon is like when placing orders for hash brown potatoes: “scattered” (spread on the grill), “smothered” (with onions), “covered” (with cheese), “chunked” (with diced ham), “diced” (with diced tomatoes), “peppered” (with jalapeño peppers), “capped” (with mushrooms), “topped” (with chili), and “all the way” (with all available toppings).

After opening the fourth restaurant in 1960, the company began franchising its restaurants and slowly grew to 27 stores by the late 1960s, before growth accelerated. The company is privately held and does not disclose annual sales figures, but says they serve 2% of the eggs used in the nation’s food-service industry.

Waffle House sells more than 10,000 T-bone steaks daily. This is the most sold anywhere. I’ve had them many times and I always say that I’ve had the best T-bone I’ve ever eaten and the worst T-bone I’ve ever eaten at a Waffle House.

In 2004, Waffle House reacquired the original location, which had been turned into a Chinese restaurant, and re-opened it in 2008 as a museum. The founders of the Waffle House brand died in 2017 within two months of each other: Joe Rogers Sr. died on March 3 and Tom Forkner on April 26.

Waffle House has always had Jukeboxes. Until the 2000’s they were the kind that played 45rpm singles and later in some locations compact discs. Now they play digital content. Waffle House has released music through its own record label, Waffle Records.

It has released songs from “Saturday Night At My Place” by Gary Garcia released in 1995 to “They’re Cooking Up My Order” by Alfreda Gerald released in 2006. Waffle House locations kept jukebox singles being produced even after most 45rpm singles had died out.


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: