From secret menus to record labels, here are 10 things you never knew about Waffle House

Waffle house
You might have seen Waffle House’s famously simple sign before. Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock
  • Waffle House is a breakfast-style eatery with the majority of its locations in the southeastern US.
  • The restaurant serves up hundreds of strips of bacon and orders of hash browns every minute.
  • Waffle House has secret menus for if the water isn’t running or the electricity is out.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Waffle House is known for its cheap and hearty morning-time eats, but there’s more to the breakfast chain than just bacon, eggs, and smothered hash browns.

The eatery has accrued several noteworthy tidbits during its 60-plus years in operation.

Here are 10 interesting things to know about Waffle House before your next meal:

The first Waffle House opened in a suburb in Atlanta, Georgia

In 1955, neighbors Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner opened up the very first Waffle House in Avondale Estates, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Originally, there were no plans to further expand Waffle House but as the business grew the pair opened up a second location in 1957.

Over the next few decades, they’d continue to bring the breakfast spot to cities throughout the world.

The original Waffle House location is now a museum you can still visit

Sadly, you can’t grab a hot breakfast at the original Waffle-House location in Georgia, but you can still pay homage to it.

The Waffle House Museum has been restored, but it still has its original 1950s-inspired feel inside. Upon visiting, you can check out Waffle House’s memorabilia from the past few decades.

The chain is famous for never closing and it’s known for staying open during most major weather events

Waffle house hurricane
A Waffle House open during emergency evacuation just before Hurricane Florence. Shutterstock

The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, according to the company website.

The fact that it’s always open has inspired some famous myths, including one about the Waffle House doors not actually having any locks.

But some Waffle Houses do occasionally close their doors for hurricanes or other disasters.

When preparing for Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm that wreaked havoc on the Florida Panhandle in 2018, Waffle House closed 21 locations.

In the past, the chain has also closed some of its restaurants during Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Irma. The chain also closed a few eateries during the coronavirus pandemic.

FEMA has a ‘Waffle House Index’ that gauges preparedness in bad weather

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has its own way of measuring the impacts of storms and how much assistance may be needed, and it’s been dubbed the “Waffle House Index.”

Why’s this? Well, this method of tabulation is based on the fact that Waffle House rarely ever closes due to inclement weather. It focuses on how prepared the business is for a major weather event, such as a hurricane.

Here’s how the index system works. If Waffle House is open with a full menu, the index is green. If the index reads yellow, it means that Waffle House is open with a reduced menu.

If Waffle House closes, the index is red. This is rare because the chain is known for being quite prepared for inclement weather.

There are no Waffle Houses on the West Coast

Sorry, West Coasters, you’ll have to head far from home to get your Waffle House fix.

The breakfast establishment doesn’t have a single storefront in California, Washington, Oregon, or any other state on the West Coast.

Waffle House’s most west locations in the US are in Arizona, where there are a total of 15 restaurants.

In total, there are over 1,900 Waffle House locations in the US alone, and their iconic black-and-yellow signage is hard to miss.

Waffle House has several different secret menus for when disaster strikes

Waffle house menu
The chain’s standard menu is quite large. Shutterstock

Depending on the type of disaster and how bad it is, Waffle House has four secret menus for diners to choose from.

The selection includes a menu for when the power is out, a menu for when the water is not running, and two other limited menus that feature a wider range of choices depending on customer volume.

But if there’s no electricity, don’t expect to order waffles as the griddle won’t be able to operate. Rest assured, food that can be grilled such as eggs, burgers, and hash browns are still on the no-power menu.

Hootie and the Blowfish released an album named after Waffle House’s signature ordering style

In 2000, Hootie and the Blowfish released a 10-track album titled “Scattered, Smothered and Covered.”

The name of the CD is seemingly a nod to Waffle House’s signature style, and experienced diners know a thing or two about ordering hash browns this way.

Per the Waffle House menu, the phrase means that the hash browns are “scattered” on the grill top, “smothered” with diced onions, and “covered” with melted cheese.

The hearty breakfast chain serves up 145 waffles per minute

Waffle house waffle
They serve a ton of bacon and coffee, too. Shutterstock

…and that doesn’t include the other menu items they’re furiously whipping up. On average, Waffle Houses around the globe serve up 341 strips of bacon, 238 orders of hash browns, and 127 cups of coffee per minute.

In total, Waffle House has prepared more than 2.5 billion eggs and 1.3 billion orders of grits since opening in 1955.

Waffle House has a music label called Waffle Records

Waffle Records creates jukebox-style songs to play at Waffle House locations around the country, according to a 2016 article from NPR.

The label was started in the 1980s by Joe Rogers Sr., one of Waffle House’s co-founders, and the lyrics touch on a diner’s experience at the restaurant, including what they may eat.

Some of the songs produced by Waffle House include “They’re Cooking Up My Order” by Alfreda Gerald and “Waffle House For You And Me” by G’ane.

A famous competitive hot-dog eater also holds a Waffle House eating record as of 2006

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut – current holder of Nathan’s famous hot-dog-eating record – has also won the Waffle House’s World Waffle-Eating Championship.

According to Major League Eating, Chestnut put away 18 1/2 large waffles before the end of a 12-minute match in 2006.