No 24-hour diner chain inspires quite the same cult following as Wafflehouse menu. Since its founding in Atlanta some 60 years ago, the restaurant has been elevated to cultural touchstone, now expansive across 25 U.S. states with 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 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, 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 In accordance with Waffle House. The chain, which states have sold its billionth waffle sometime in 2015, recently saw both of its founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., die in just two months of one another. Here now, a glance back at the legend, and for fans near and far, everything you need to learn about Waffle House.
The Start – The very first Waffle House made its debut in 1955 within the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The vision: combine fast food, available twenty-four 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 create a restaurant and I’ll explain to you the best way 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 acquire).
The original Waffle Home is now a museum. The company began franchising in 1960 and at first grew slowly, but expansion picked up inside the ’70s and ’80s. Its empire now spans across a full half of the 50 continental states, despite the fact that 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., is now the chairman – and will not disclose annual sales figures, but in 2005 the business claimed which it uses two percent of all the eggs created in the U.S.
The Secret Waffle House Language. Eating at Waffle House for 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 dedicated to memory, however for all others, the menu translates each esoteric term: “Scattered” refers to spreading the hash browns out across the grill therefore they get crispy throughout – otherwise, they’re cooked inside a steel ring – and is among the mostly commonly heard terms thrown around at WH; many also order them “well-done.” The other topping alternatives 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 in which.”
Hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered. Like most some other diner, orders at Waffle House are subjected to lots of customization, from the various egg preparations (over easy, scrambled, et al) to those 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, as well as other condiments including mayo packets and pickles in a variety of, highly specific arrangements, servers have the ability to communicate to cooks what food should be equipped for each plate. As an example, to indicate an order of scrambled eggs with wheat toast, a tub of jelly is put on the larger oval plate upside-down on the six o’clock position. (Best of luck memorizing this technique until you actually work there; the rest of us will just have to look on with awe.)
Famous Everyone Loves Waffle House. Though Waffle Home is prized as a refuge for your common people, plenty of celebrities have also pledged their allegiance. Prominently located just off busy interstates, Waffle House near me has played host to a lot of 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 do you know what I’m talkin’ about.” One or more rap music video has been filmed in a Waffle House parking area, and nineties sensation/current butt of endless jokes Hootie as well as 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 within my Toast”) from which may be heard playing on the jukeboxes that occupy each location.