Waffle House was founded in 1955 by Joe Rogers, Sr., and Tom Forkner. This pair of friends wanted to combine the speed of fast food but with the service of a restaurant. They also wanted food to be around the clock – meaning waffles for dinner was going to be OK!
The first restaurant was located in Avondale Estates, Georgia.
In 1957, a second restaurant is opened.
During the 1960s, the company opens 44 more restaurants and begins to franchise.
By the end of the 1970s, there are over 400 locations.
The 1000th location is opened in 1997.
By 2005, there are 1460 locations in 25 states.
In 2006, the company finally begins to accept credit cards, after being cash only.
In 2007, the company repurchased their original restaurant, which had most recently been a Chinese food location, and made it a museum.
In 2008, the Waffle House Museum opens at the site of the first restaurant. That same year, one of the largest franchises, North Lake Foods, was purchased by Waffle House, Inc. The company reestablished the franchise the following year.
Although the company is privately owned and does not disclose financial information, the company says that 2% of all eggs used in the food service industry are sold to Waffle House.
In 2012, CEO Joe Rogers, Jr, is accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with his housekeeper. He is replaced as CEO by Walt Ehmer.
Today, Waffle House operates over 2100 restaurants in 25 US states. The company claims to be the world’s largest seller of several of its menu item, including the namesake waffles, ham, pork chops, grits, and T-bone steaks.
Almost every Waffle House has a jukebox and, starting back in 2008, began offering candlelit dinners for Valentine’s Day.
The company is considered one of the top 4 companies in the US that can be relied on during an emergency response situation, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Waffle House Index is an informal term used by FEMA to determine the severity of a storm and how much assistance might be required for citizens to recover.