An Ode to Waffle House

Pecan waffle at Waffle House in Vicksburg Mississippi

Breakfast at a Waffle House in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The only place that matches my husband’s excellent pecan waffles is the U.S. Southern diner chain called, not surprisingly, Waffle House.

The entertainment value there is often unmatched, especially if you grab a seat at the counter. One of my recent visits included lively waitstaff named Weezy and Bobbie (really – I stole a glance at nametags) yelling unintelligible orders to the fry cook, who handled multiple sizzling items at once on a big grill.

Hashbrown potatoes are a staple to go with your eggs, if you’re not into waffles. The laminated Waffle House menu has an elaborate list of ways to ask to have them prepared: Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Diced, Peppered, Capped, Topped, and Country. “Capped,” for example, means with grilled mushrooms added. Part of the order yelling is the hashbrowns shorthand. Yes, there is a lunch/dinner menu, too.

They are more than consistent, affordable food since 1955, though.

Waffle House has disaster recovery and logistics down pat. There is an actual “Waffle House Index” that is a thumbnail measure of how well a community is coming back from a hurricane, tornado, flooding, etc. It is tied to their business culture of being open 24 hours, year-round.

“Waffle House restaurants are often used to gauge the magnitude of disasters in the [U.S.] Southeast: If a store is open, your community has been spared. If the store is open but has a limited menu, you’ve probably gotten some damage. If the store is completely closed, you’re in a disaster zone.”

Their company headquarters in Norcross, Georgia sends in “Jump Teams” to help set up electrical generators and make sure restaurants are stocked to re-open as quickly as possible.

I generally like to eat breakfast at local, independent restaurants where possible, but when the pecan waffle craving hits and I’m somewhere in the South, I Google “Waffle House near me” and follow the directions. Disaster or not, it will almost certainly be open and ready for me.

(Photo by the author)

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