There are few chains that inspire more loving devotion than Waffle House. Just about everyone in the South has one within driving distance, and it seems like everyone who’s ever visited one has a special place in his or her heart for this unique chain. But even if you’re a loyal devotee, we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this all-American favorite.
The original menu had 16 items on it, and the most expensive (and most profitable) one was the waffle. By making it their flagship item, the founders also assured that they’d have a better chance of pulling a hefty profit.
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One of the chain’s founding principles was to be always open, always.
Since 1955, Waffle House has served more than 2.5 billion eggs.
By 2007, the first location, which had been sold in the early 1970s, was languishing as a Chinese restaurant. The company bought it back and remodeled it using the original blueprints, and today it’s a private company museum that’s used for corporate events but is occasionally opened to the public.
When Waffle House says that they’re open 24/7, they mean it. The chain’s disaster management plan is so well-thought out (with portable generators, food, and ice brought in in advance of natural disasters like hurricanes) that the Federal Emergency Management Agency gauges the severity of a disaster based on (among other criteria) how the local Waffle House responds to it, a system they call the Waffle House Index.
You’ll find a jukebox stocked with 45 rpm singles in just about every Waffle House. But look a little closer and you’ll discover that many of the songs are actually about Waffle House, with titles including “Waffle House Thank You” by Jerry Buckner and “Waffle House for You and Me” by G'ane. CDs of the music are available on Amazon, and at some Waffle House locations if you ask nicely.
The hash browns come in so many varieties, there’s a special way of ordering them: smothered (with onions), scattered (spread out on the grill), covered (with cheese), topped (with chili), capped (with mushrooms), chunked (with ham), peppered (with jalapeños), diced (with tomatoes), and all the way (with everything).
Bert’s Chili, a top-selling item on the menu, was in fact invented by former Waffle House president and CEO Bert Thornton in the 1980s in Dallas. Each pot of chili is still made to Bert’s exacting specifications.
Waffle House sells more than 10,000 T-bone steaks daily. It’s also the world’s leading server of waffles, hash browns, eggs and cheese, country ham, pork chops, and grits.