Waffle House is a Southern staple with its bright lights and yellow signs beckoning anyone making their way down a lonesome Tennessee highway or a crowded Atlanta street.
While Waffle House has slowly made its way across the nation, the South is still its home since the Georgia-based restaurant has 132 locations in Atlanta alone. The always-open diner may have waffle in its name, but it’s best known for serving up Southern comfort food, including the hash browns it serves in a variety of ways, none healthy, all delicious—scattered, smothered, covered, chunked and more. Here are 14 things you may not know about the grits and grub serving landmark:
1. It was founded by neighbors
Joe Rogers Sr. and Tom Forkner lived next door to each other in Avondale Estates, Georgia. One night in 1955 they hatched a plan for a diner that would serve up comfort food any time customers were craving it whether at 4 a.m. or 4 p.m. The founders passed away in 2017, a mere two months apart at the ages of 97 and 98.
2. It never closes
Waffle House is open every day of the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. So if your Thanksgiving turkey goes up in flames when you try to deep fry it, just remember the doors to the local Waffle House are always open. If the doors aren’t open, chances are a hurricane or other natural disaster has rushed through.
3. FEMA has a Waffle House Index
When a hurricane rips through the South, the federal government’s disaster relief organization has been known to look to Waffle House to determine the severity of hurricane damage. If the Waffle House is open and running, FEMA gives it a ‘green’, if the diner is open, but serving a limited menu, it gets a ‘yellow’. If the Waffle House is actually closed, it earns a ‘red’ and FEMA knows the damage is serious.
4. The amount of food Waffle House serves each minute is staggering
According to the Waffle House’s website, every single minute they serve up 341 strips of bacon, 238 hash brown orders, 145 waffles, 127 hamburgers, 96 orders of grits, and 16 Texas Cheesesteaks. They are also one of the largest purveyors of T-bone steaks in the entire world.
5. They will cater your wedding
If you’re looking for catering for your next event, consider surprising your guests with a feast from the Waffle House and yes, they even do weddings. Instead of putting in a massive take-out order or taking over one of their restaurants, the Waffle House will drive their own food truck to your event and dole out hot hash browns and waffles to your guests.
6. There’s a Waffle House Museum
The restaurant’s original location in Decatur, Ga., has been transformed into a museum for anyone looking for a quirky way to spend an afternoon. The museum looks like a 1955 diner and is filled with over 60 years of Waffle House memorabilia. To top off the fun, the tour includes an edible souvenir as visitors get a chance to make their own waffle.
7. Valentine’s Day is extra special
While your average Waffle House doesn’t scream romance, that all changes on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to tablecloths, hearts-and-love-themed decorations, and pink and red tablescapes, the diner transformed into candlelit love nests. Some locations even accept reservations for the special night, so couples who are in the mood for love and waffles won’t risk having to wait for a table for two.
8. Waffle House has its own record label
Not every Waffle House has a jukebox, but those that do will offer tracks like "There Are Raisins in My Toast”, “Make Mine with Cheese”, and the gospel-inspired tune, “They’re Cooking Up My Order.” The songs were created and released by Waffle Records, Waffle House’s very own record label, which they started back in the ‘80s to help creat that special Waffle House ambiance. They even put out music videos and a compilation CD to listen to their hits at home.
9. You can have your packages delivered to Waffle House
The fact that the company is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year makes it the perfect place to meet up. In 2015, Waffle House teamed up with Roadie, a delivery service, to serve as a rendezvous point for customers looking to pick up and drop off packages in any of the restaurant’s estimated 1,750 locations.
10. They make a lot of sausage
Across their many locations, Waffle House serves a lot of their famous Sausage Patties. They cook up so many of the little patties that if you stacked up all the patties they made in just a single day, they would be four times the size of the Empire State Building.
11. They give back to their community
Turns out all those hash browns and grits we’ve eaten were for a good cause. The Waffle House Foundation donates to worthy organizations throughout their home base in the greater Atlanta area.
12. Customers can help create the menu
The Waffle House Test Kitchen is where the restaurants’ chefs let loose and get creative with ingredients to give customers new menu items like Peanut Butter Waffles and some of their fancy salads (although, who goes to Waffle House for a salad?). To see what the chain is thinking about adding to their menu next, visit their website to see where new menu items are being tested and then go forth and eat and give the restaurant your feedback. If the item does make it to the hallowed menu, consider yourself a trendsetter.
13. Bert is real
If you’ve ever ordered up a bowl of Waffle House’s famous Bert’s chili filled with sausage, hamburger, and beans, you may have wondered about its namesake. Bert Thornton was a longtime restaurant employee, better known for his work in the boardroom than the kitchen. The Vice Chairman Emeritus worked at Waffle House for some 30 years, developing the recipe for the classic chili along the way.
14. They host weddings
When two Waffle House servers decided to get hitched, they knew they had to do it at the diner where they had met in Dacula, Ga.. In between shifts at the restaurant, they got married in the parking lot, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. If you’re not interested in hosting your wedding at the Waffle House, consider a Waffle House groom’s cake instead.