Friday, September 02, 2011

More than just a dining institution...

...Waffle House is used by FEMA to gauge the seriousness of storm damage in disaster-stricken areas:
Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.
Among other factoids, Waffle House is apparently rated as one of the top four companies in the nation for disaster preparedness, right up there with more obvious names like Lowe's and Home Despot, even having special pre-printed limited menus for use when there's no electricity.

I did not know that.

Apparently, they've gone big on generators, too, so at some restaurants you can stop in and listen to "Special Lady (at the Waffle House)" on the jukebox even when the power lines are down for miles around.

A reader related this story in an email:
"After an Ice storm eleven years ago they were the only place open. It took me two hours of cold work to get through the ice on my truck. After driving to work (closed) and back everything else closed, I saw a dim light on at Waffle House. The cook had brought in his Coleman camping lantern and they were open. The lights were out for about twenty miles around but they didn't give up. It is our favorite place to eat."
I love Waffle House so much.
.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, man.

Shootin' Buddy

Rev. Paul said...

Been there exactly once ... they're not in Alaska, like so many other companies.

I guess that's 'sposed to make us want to travel, or something. Hrmph.

Sebastian said...

Unfortunately, I'm North of the IHOP/Waffle House Line. We just have to suffer.

Keads said...

I can get "Scattered, smothered, and covered" with two locations within 20 miles of here. I love 'em too!

Anonymous said...

Used to joke around and called them 'Awful House' for years while living in Atlanta but it really was a good place to eat.

Gmac

Drang said...

Locally, the Sharis chain is pretty reliable in power outages.

And I do wish we had Waffle Houses here. Tried 'em in ColoSpgs when were exiled there.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Following on Drang's, the IHOP/Waffle House Line gets a little blurred in Colorado, because there is a WH in Colorado Springs and IHOP too. Otherwise I would have never seen one until a business trip to Nashville.

Great story about the cook and the lantern.

cj said...

Oh...my...There's a Waffle House only 169 miles from me! I had no idea they'd reached that far! Thanks for the wake-up!

Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me) said...

"Home Despot"?

Is that a typo, or have you got something against them?

BobG said...

Never been to one; we don't have them in Utah, just IHOP.

Anonymous said...

my favorite chain restaurant! steak and eggs, 24-7, 365 days a year, and they always call ya "honey".

Anonymous said...

Home Despot

Your one stop shop for all manner of Tyranical Goodness.
Aisle 1. Surveillance & torture equipment
Aisle 2. Things to amuse populace
Aisle 3. Things that fly and rain destruction on the unwashed.
Aisle 4. Personally excessive displays of ostentation.
Aisle 5. Loyal soldiery & flunkies
Aisle 6. Hardcore weapons in big lots
Aisle 7. Palace designs and all the fixings for harder homes and gardens.
etc...

You see why they need a BIG store.

Tam said...

Crotalus,

"Is that a typo, or have you got something against them?"

Just a gag name, like Booger Thing, Shake My Steak, Ze Luftwaffle Haus, Wally World, Taco Hell, et al. :)

Commander_Zero said...

You might like this article from a few years back about a power company that got religion and cowboyed their way through a similar event. My favorite part is when they needed fuel to run their fleet of trucks they went to a refinery and said "We'll get you back online right now if you can provide us with gas for our trucks"...and sure enough they had all the gas they needed. Great stuff.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2005-10-09-mississippi-power-usat_x.htm

Anonymous said...

Were we in Canada, you would instead name "Tim Horton". Tim's doesn't need generators, though--before the utilities start work on the main lines they bring the generator TO Tim's so that doughnuts and hot coffee are available.

Antibubba

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

Oh...my...There's a Waffle House only 169 miles from me!

Worth the drive, too. ;-) They don't have 'em here in San Antonio, but there IS one in Austin. If I had the gas money I'd be making that drive more frequently!

Darrell said...

One opened a mile or so from me a few years ago. I tried it a time or three, the breakfasts were good but the ambience was terrible--the guy running the joint was shouting orders loudly, and being an ass in general. It was a madhouse. Are they all like that? I tried it for dinner once, and had a truly awful meal. Never went back.

Now, IHOP--I love IHOP. Never had a bad meal there.

Johnnyreb™ said...

Mmmm .. Home fries "All the way" w/chili!

Nathan said...

OK...I can't get over the fact that they have a mobile command center.

That is just too cool for school. I need to stop at the one in Southport on my way to the Masonic Home Festival next weekend. Way too long since my last fix.

Jeffrey Quick said...

I started calling them "Home Despot" when I started encountering their drug policy at the front doors. It made me think I should give them a sample at the check out, just so they knew I was clean enough to buy.

Of course, Lowe's seems to have a sideline in teaching carpenter's Spanish.

Crustyrusty said...

Have both IHOP and WH here in the Bluegrass

Charlie Foxtrot said...

If that isn't the American Spirit, I don't know what is.

When ever I find myself in Waffle House territory, I try and stop by. Great breakfasts, surprisingly good coffee, friendly service, and the slice-of-the country customers.

Guess I'll have to patronize them more.

og said...

I think the business model is a good one, but man, I spent a lot of time in the Awful Waffle, and it always left me cold. Guess I've been spoiled by other restaurants. And I hate sitting in booths.

Ken said...

Neat, and good to know.

Tam said...

Og,

"...and it always left me cold."

You can't help being a Yankee. We like you anyways. :)

Dr. Coyote said...

Waffle House was one of the first chains to re-open in coastal Mississippi after Katrina slammed us. It was just amazing, fields of destruction and debris and right in the middle a gleaming new WH. In just about every town on the coast, all at once. Like watching big square-block letter yellow daisies bloom.

Anonymous said...

The Waffle House was the only place open at 0300 when I was heading to the airport in Nashville.

I'd stop and get a cup of coffee to go. It was always jammed with the redneck version of the bar in Star Wars.

Gerry

perlhaqr said...

Triple hash, triple smothered, triple covered, not scattered.

And I made the mistake once, of getting a triple hash all the way once. Not that it was bad, the mistake was ordering other food at the same time. It was bigger than my head.

Stuart the Viking said...

Darrell,

Not all of them are like that. The one down here is seemingly staffed pot heads. Everything calm, no worries, no hurries, very little motivation, but the line cook cooks like he's got a major case of the munchies and he's making it extra good because it's all for himself. That bitch server keeps stealing it though.

Haven't been there in a while. Guess it's time to go in for some eggs and grits. It's been so long in fact that I've taken to making grits at home.

s

mycrofth4 said...

I've only been to Waffle House in Indy once and never went back. The IHOP started good before crashing and finally closing down. They just built a new one not far from my house and I might give them another shot.
I also never saw the attraction of Bob Evans. Mediocre food, at best.
On the other hand, we have had incredibly good luck with Crackle Barrel both in Indy and while on the road.

Frank W. James said...

I've never been much for WH as I prefer Denny's and their belgium waffles smothered in strawberrys and whipped cream with a side of links.

Now THAT'S a breakfast...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

og said...

"You can't help being a Yankee."

if being a yankee means that I'd like my orange juice cold and my eggs hot, and prefer not to have cockroaches crawl up my pantslegs nor have the waitresses cigarrette ashes in my hash browns, and have my bacon or sausage taste like it came from an actual animal of some kind, and not a tire, then I have never been prouder of anything on earth than I am of being a yankee right now.

Maybe we should take you to Nappanee and show you what actual breakfast tastes like. In Yankeeland. The Nappanee gun show is October 29th.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Og. Tam: there's a Waffle House in my Town of Eastlake, Ohio, about 2 miles from the Lake Erie Shoreline. Since the Canadian Border is another 20 miles or so further North (so it's in the Middle of the Lake, what do want, Chopped Liver?) I think we can safely say that the Waffle House does does have a location or 2 in Yankee Land.

Of course, 2 miles to the South is IHOP on one corner and Denny's on the other, so I think I safely say that I can get Bacon and Eggs easier than 95% of the rest of the country.

Take that PETA!

Tam said...

Og,

Thousands of meals in a Waffle House and never seen any of that.

I shot a double rifle oncet, though, now, let me tell you...

Phillip said...

I've lived in the South all my life, except for an extremely short trip to attempt to live in Baltimore, and I've traveled all over the Eastern Seaboard and slightly inland. As a result, I've eaten in a LOT of Waffle Houses. I've been in a few that I felt like I needed a shower afterwards, and I've been in some that were so clean and shiny that I would've eaten off the table if they'd been short on plates. I've never actually seen a cockroach inside one, although what we call Palmetto Bugs are so common that some places you can't get to your car from the front door without stepping on one with every step. I've seen tired, worn out waitresses, and I've seen the bright perky ones. The best ones seem to fall somewhere in the middle, where they've been doing it for a while but they aren't ready for the glue factory yet. I've seen cooks that couldn't figure out how to flip an egg without breaking it, and I've seen cooks that could run ten different orders at once and look like they were relaxing in a hammock and everything came out good. Not everything on the menu is to my taste, but they have one of the best chicken sandwiches that I've ever tasted anywhere, and I've eaten at some high-falutin' restaurants. In all of that, I can only conclude that Waffle Houses are a true piece of Americana, because you'll get a slightly different experience at each one, but they're doing their best to stay true to the ideal.

Guess it all boils down to what you're comfortable with. I know people who won't eat there because in their mind it's not a high-class place. Their loss. I like them, and I'll stop in when I get a chance.

the pawnbroker said...

So many so deprived...no Waffle House? Bless ya'lls hearts.

It ain't fine cuisine...or is it? Depends on your perspective, I guess. I thought everyone had a Waffle House story or memory...comfort food late at night after a bad date, warm lights and hot coffee on a lonely road when you have to drive straight through, taking your adult son to the one down the road at 3 a.m. for a steaming platter of cheddar omelette and scatteredsmotheredandcovered to sober him up after a booze-induced screaming argument with his fiance...

At times like those there is no finer dining establishment on earth than one of those little yellow prefab roadside boxes.

og said...

yeah, yeah.

Have you ever actually looked at me? I mean, I know it's painful, but have a glance sometime. I know a thing or two about good food. Care to guess how many meals I've eaten in restaurants? I only have to see a cockroach once to decide to leave.

Over twenty years on the road, now, eating in local restaurants all over north and some parts of south America. I can tell you where to go to get a good breakfast, most places.

When you come up to Nappanee and sample bacon made from real amish people, you can apologise for your apostasy. Don't mind the screams, the amish sound like that during bacon and belt extraction. ;)

Anonymous said...

No WH here. IHOP has a competitor named NORM'S. I get hungry just thinking about it!

But, none compares to Mami's cooking. I miss her.
Ulises from CA

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Stopped at a Waffle House once, somewhere in North Carolina. One of the worst restaurant experiences I've ever had, and the folks I was with agreed with me.

Denny's is the place for me....

Beaumont said...

Wow, this really boinged Og's unfunny bone. If he gets that upset over a bad breakfast, I can only imagine what he's like when SHTF.

wv: dinglz. The sound of that little bell over the door of the WH.

Tam said...

FWIW, anybody who prefers a Cracker Barrel to a Waffle House prefers woodgrain-pattern vinyl decals to real walnut burl, and that's all I've got to say about that.

atlharp said...

The Waffle House has its good points, but a real sore spot with me is their CCW policy. I refuse to eat at a place that will not let me carry. Considering the amount of people there on parole disarming me is not in my best interest.

Tam said...

RM1(SS)(ret),

"Stopped at a Waffle House once, somewhere in North Carolina. One of the worst restaurant experiences I've ever had, and the folks I was with agreed with me."

Be glad I didn't form my opinion of squids from the first one I met. ;)

Matt G said...

I've had pretty good Waffle House Experiences, and I've had inedible WHEs. At our local one, do NOT eat the grits. They look great, but they're not drying out because of the thick layer of fry oil poured over them in the bain marie. The product served in the bowl is thus rendered... um, unfit.

I've often wondered how it is that WH keeps its doors open and keeps going. The answer, paradoxically enough, is that they continue to do just that.

Will Brown said...

When you come up to Nappanee and sample bacon made from real amish people ...

Would that be from Mengele's House Of Backstrap, Og? :)

Crustyrusty said...

Heh. Google "waffle house robbery" sometime. Watch your puter catch fire.

Wonder why...?

mycrofth4 said...

"...prefers woodgrain-pattern vinyl decals to real walnut burl,..."
Well, if the real walnut is rotten and full of termites, then I will take the vinyl decals.
I'm kind of surprised by you, Tam. You sound like a HK fanboi that considers any other manufacturer to be the equivalent of a Hipoint. Unless you truly consider woodgrain-pattern vinyl decals to be a mid-range product?

the pawnbroker said...

"You sound like a HK fanboi..."

You (and notable others) are neglecting to consider the regard for iconic historical status possessed of the hostess here.

You would never say "You sound like a JMB fanboi..." no matter how reverent the praise, would you?

Yet that is the more accurate analogy. Now do you get it?

Roberta X said...

Atlharp: Concealed is what? Concealed? I don't care if they ask, I'm not tellin'.

(Anyone know if this is an official policy or just a halfwit manager?)

dave said...

Christmas dinner when I didn't have anywhere else to be. Three years in a row.

Yes, WH has a place in my heart.

Roberta X said...

A reminder to my fellow Hoosiers that until very recently, what every other state that had 'em called "Waffle House," Indiana called "Waffle & Steak," or some similar goofy thing; Indiana's own (and now defunct) "Waffle House" was not the same chain but kind of a downscale Denny's, of standardized layout (split dining rooms, counter and kitchen in the center) and highly variable quality. So it kind of depends on when you sampled them.

Rob Reed said...

The only time I was in a Waffle House was a couple months ago driving back from Florida. I think we were in Tennesse. I was very unhappy to see a "No Guns" sign on the door.

Justthisguy said...

Thank the fucking Lord for Waffle House, and I write as someone who just got back from Divine Services.

Unfortunately, here in the midwestern ass-end of Southern FL, Waffle House didnt't get here until 'way late, and there are only two in the county, out on I-75 near the hospice where Daddy died, where I cain't get with no D. license, and the bus don't go out there.

I used to work in Clarkston, y'know!

Sigh!

WV: naenally. Looks like it ought to mean something. Any ideas?

Justthisguy said...

P.s. I know we're supposed to stock up on canned food and ammo, but the most I can manage at the moment is a can of tuna and a coupla cans of sardines, and some Friskies for Mah Kitteh, and a box and a half of ammo.

If I could just get to the Waffle House, I know they would understand me and take me in, in a TEOTWAWKI kind of situation, before they would take in my annoying Midwestern damnedyankee neighbors.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

I've been to a Waffle House once, and it was awesome. They don't have them where I live, though.

I can understand all the variable experiences with WH, though - but that applies to any chain restaurant. I've been to a shitty Denny's and a shitty Ihop (both in Vegas, no less!), but the Denny's I went to in Bloomington was one of the best restaurants of any kind that I've ever been in. And the Ihop across the street from the Mall of America is pretty good, too, if a bit pricey ($20 for a crepe and a drink?!).

Anonymous said...

The small college town of Cookeville, TN used to have 3 WHs. Two of them were on opposite sides of I-40 on opposite sides of the same street. You could see the sign for the other one while standing in the parking lot. I Suddenly have a craving for hash browns.

Library-Gryffon said...

Wife of RM1(SS) here.

That particular WH was *so* bad, that the folks with us who liked WHs were put off them by it. The food was OK, but the service was amazingly awful. Sunday, right after church, two waitresses, and for one of them it was her first day ever. They sat us at a dirty table and didn't clean it for almost half an hour. It took another hour to get all of us our orders. And then they messed up the bill and insisted on double charging us on one item. We were on our way back from an SCA event, and for the next year or two joked about creating a local dis-service award with a waffle pattern as the insignia.

I know that you shouldn't judge an entire chain of restaurants by just one. But when your first experience is that bad, it's hard not to see a WH and cringe.

STxRynn said...

I've been to a few. The one by the bridge in Lake Charles was pretty good. The cop that I followed in was a regular. It wasn't the cleanest, but tasty food. The one by the airport in Austin was really good, but so was the company that day. I'd like to put one up in my little slice of heaven for a bit of variety, 24 Hrs would make it the only restaurant like that in our town.

Don't look down on ashes in your food. Dad used to make bacon that had a smokey flavor to it. Never could duplicate the taste, cause I don't smoke.....

Mark said...

I used to live about 3 miles from the Waffle house in St. Louis near the airport. It was the only place I could go and ask for a 5 egg ham and cheese omelet with crisp hashbrowns and Rye toast and not get asked what a 5 egg omelet is. And the order would be right, with crisp hashbrowns and rye toast done right with strawberry marmalade, not jam or jelly. That made it good to be finishing a 20 hour shift.