Waffle House Claims To Be The World's Leading Provider Of One Type Of Steak

Don't be fooled by the name. Waffle House doesn't just serve waffles. The American dining institution, which serves up diner and short order entrées quickly and inexpensively in a sit-down restaurant setting, offers familiar breakfast favorites like eggs, bacon, and waffles, and lunchtime fare such as cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches, and numerous variations of hash browns. 

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution, there's a whole lingo system involved for customizing hash browns. One of Waffle House's signature menu items can be ordered as "scattered," "smothered," "covered," "chunked," "diced," "peppered," "capped," "topped," or "country."

Waffle House certainly feeds hungry customers plenty of waffles and hash browns (with breakfast served around the clock), but somewhat surprisingly, it claims to be the world's top seller of another versatile food: the T-bone steak (via the Houston Chronicle). Can it be true? Does Waffle House really move more massive, meaty, and juicy T-bone steaks than any other restaurant company on the planet?

How Waffle House can sell steaks so cheaply

Certainly part of the appeal of the Waffle House T-bone steak — and why the chain sells so many of them — is its price. Generally perceived as an expensive option, and the reason for the existence of upscale and pricey chains like Morton's and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Waffle House's steak-based breakfast comes at a cost that probably can't be beaten. For example, in 2022, a T-bone at a Waffle House in North Carolina would set customers back $8.80, not including tax and tip — and that's for a hefty, 10-ounce portion, too.

Part of the reason why Waffle House can offer big and meaty T-bone steaks for under nine bucks a piece is that it's literally second-rate meat. The item is described on Waffle House's menu as "USDA Choice," which according to the University of Texas A&M's Meat Science department, is one tier down from the top level of beef, USDA Prime. Steaks are classified, or graded, according to the level of marbling, the mixture of lean meat and fat. That largely determines whether the meat will earn a Prime or Choice classification. Prime steak has "abundant" marbling, while a Choice steak is classified as merely "moderate." Accordingly, Prime beef costs substantially more than Choice.

The T-bone almost went away for good

By 2012, according to Restaurant News, Waffle House had grown so steadily and become such a popular outlet for "Good Food Fast," its registered trademark of a slogan and approach to business, that it purported itself to be the globe's biggest seller of waffles, hash browns, country ham, grits, pork chops, and T-bone steaks. Nevertheless, Waffle House also announced in 2012 that it would remove the T-bone steak from the menu at its thousands of stores. 

It didn't disappear suddenly, however; Waffle House launched a year-long marketing and publicity campaign to allow customers to get their fill of the company's signature meat product before it disappeared after around 40 years of availability. But then, the year was up and the T-bone was marked for removal. Right around that time, in a 2013 YouTube video, Waffle House senior vice president Vecus Miller explained the reason for the "T-Bone Farewell Tour 2012." 

According to Miller, the company planned on making the move in order to make room on the menu for a recently introduced and well-selling ribeye steak. But then, after fielding a slew of communications from customers unhappy that the T-bone was going away, Waffle House decided to leave the T-bone alone and let it remain on the menu indefinitely.

Could Waffle House really sell that many T-bone steaks?

It may seem far-fetched or at least an exaggeration on the part of Waffle House to be the world's biggest (and most unassuming) mover of the otherwise lofty T-bone steak. However, the math checks out, and it's more than reasonable for the company to assert its dominance of the T-bone steak sector.

As of 2019, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Waffle House claims to have grilled and served almost 135 million T-bone steaks since it opened for business with a single Atlanta location in 1955. The company (via First We Feast) says that over the years and into the present age, that works out to about four steaks a minute, chain-wide. 

According to ScrapeHero, the United States is home to more than 1,970 Waffle House outlets. Four steaks a minute works out to 5,760 steaks sold every day, company-wide. Split out into its 1,970-plus locations results in each individual Waffle House serving approximately three steaks every day. That makes for a healthy and robust steak trade for Waffle House.