The soft glow from Waffle House’s black and yellow sign has been beckoning Georgia’s weary travelers to stop, rest and dine for over 60 years.
For many Georgians, eating at arguably Atlanta’s best restaurant is a rite of passage. But if you think you know everything about the restaurant chain, think again.
Even the most devoted WaHo patrons may be surprised with these unusual facts about the company.
1. In a year, Waffle House serves 25,000 miles of bacon. If you laid out all the Smithfield Bacon Waffle House serves in one year end-to-end, it would wrap around the earth’s equator. That’s a lot of miles of greasy goodness.
2. Waffle House has its own music label. The yellow-roofed restaurant has been concocting its recipes since 1955, but it began creating its own music 30 years ago. If you scroll through any Waffle House jukebox, there’s 40 original Waffle House songs. Hard to believe? Well, listen to one of Waffle House’s hits entitled “There are Raisins in My Toast.” WaHo’s musical playlist doesn’t stop there. The franchise has also dipped its toes into the syrupy waters of Gospel music.
3. School buses inspired the restaurant’s color scheme. Co-founder Joe Rogers Senior picked the colors yellow and black because it reminded him of a school bus. He thought it would increase the restaurant’s visibility to drivers. It’s a common misconception that the founders chose the colors because Joe Rogers Junior was a Georgia Tech grad.
4. FEMA has a Waffle House Index. Waffle House takes its commitment to being open 24/7 seriously. If disaster strikes, the chain has its own disaster management plan, which includes buying portable generators, ice and food in advance. One of the first places the Federal Emergency Management Agency turns to gauge a natural disaster’s severity is Waffle House -- it’s called the Waffle House Index.
5. Waffle House has its own merch! You can purchase anything ranging from a WaHo hoodie to a vintage neon Waffle House clock on the restaurant’s website.
6. Valentine’s Day at Waffle House is a big deal. For the past eight years or so, designated Waffle Houses have organized romantic candle-lit dinners for couples on Valentine’s Day. The idea began with a Johns Creek district manager, but now over 150 restaurant locations participate.
7. Waffle House has a unique call-in system. Have you ever noticed that colored tile on a Waffle House’s restaurant floor? Well, sale associates are instructed to stand on the colored tile when calling in an order. That way, the person working on the grill can easily hear the order.
8. The support team spends one day a year working in the restaurant. Although Waffle House’s support team isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, team members -- who work in Waffle House's corporate offices -- spend one day of the year working inside the restaurant.
9. Waffle House is named after its most expensive menu item. Waffle House’s original menu had 16 items on it, and its most expensive menu item was the waffle. The founders named the restaurant after the waffle because they thought it would generate a big profit.
10. The restaurant’s founders died just a month apart from each other. The company’s founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., both died in 2017. Forkner died in April 2017 at the age of 98. Rogers died in March at the age of 97. Before their deaths, both were still very involved with their brand. Tom visited the company’s headquarters about three times a week. Joe would call to check in on the company two or three times a month.
11. The menu items are named after real people. Bert’s Chili was named after an employee who served at the company for over 30 years. Alice’s iced tea was also named after an employee who helped perfect the restaurant’s signature iced tea.
12. The restaurant had a cash-only policy until 2006. Waffle House resisted using credit cards because management feared that it would interfere with its promised 20-minute turnaround time. Also, the chain had to update it system to take credit cards.
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