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Archive for August 4th, 2014

844,739

There are 844,739 ways to eat a hamburger at Waffle House.  –  statistic of dubious authenticity which used to grace Waffle House menus

Waffle HouseSome people may think it strange that one of my favorite restaurants is the diner chain, Waffle House.  But honestly, there is very little not to like about it.  Obviously, it ain’t haute cuisine, but it doesn’t claim to be; one of the company’s slogans is “good food fast”, and that’s what it delivers:  inexpensive diner-style food of consistent quality, prepared quickly and in generous portions, and served 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.  In fact, Waffle House restaurants are so consistent that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them as a quick means of assessing the severity of a natural disaster:  if the local Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, the damage to the area is relatively mild; if open but serving a limited menu (because it’s running on a generator and/or food shipments could not reach the location) the damage is severe; if entirely closed the damage is catastrophic.  But the reasonable prices and palatability of the fare aren’t even the best things about Waffle House; that would be the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an employee of the place who was unpleasant, curt or surly; the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming, and that usually affects the customers as well.  To be sure, not everyone enjoys conversations with strangers as much as I do, but I suspect anyone who isn’t a dedicated misanthrope prefers waitresses and cooks who are not only attentive to their needs and responsive to requests, but seem genuinely interested in ensuring that their guests have a positive experience.
Waffle House map  I don’t like eating alone, so when I’m forced to (as I often am while on this tour) dinner can become little more than a refueling stop for my body.  But when I’m alone and hungry and see that familiar yellow sign that looks like a completed Wheel of Fortune puzzle, it will more often than not be the place I choose to stop.  You may laugh if you like, but one of the things I found most annoying about the first leg of this tour was the complete lack of Waffle House locations; this map shows a few in Arizona and Colorado, but they must’ve been hiding ’em from me because I sure could’ve used one the night I was as hungry as a bear and discovered that for all its size and supposed sophistication, they apparently roll up the freaking streets in Denver at 10 PM.  In June.  Barely an hour after dark.  That would never happen in the realm of Waffledom; it’s nearly impossible to drive more than half an hour in any populated part of the southeast without encountering one…and if the one you find isn’t open, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than your appetite.  Obviously, I don’t eat there every night; I like variety too much to do that, and I like Waffle House too much to risk making myself sick of it.  But the first night I was in Memphis I landed there, and I’ve chosen it several times since then.  And I find it extremely comforting to know that for the rest of my tour, there will usually be one somewhere close at hand. FY10 OP13 Menu Master

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