Why I’m a Fan of Waffle House

UPDATE:  Here’s yet another reason I love Waffle House  They stepped up the day after a tornado hit Futondale, Alabama. The local Waffle House set up a kitchen outside their restaurant and started feeding rescue workers and “an entire neighborhood.”   See this.  Good people. That sort of response is in Waffle House’s DNA.  It’s a shame more of us don’t have more of that DNA.  


I was back in Birmingham to see Dear again and, not incidentally, to see Alabama play Texas A&M.  I flew in early Thursday morning and stopped by to see Dear before heading to Tuscaloosa to teach an Honors College class for my good friend Bob McCurley, and earn my football tickets.  My schedule got thrown out of whack and I didn’t have time to eat at the Bright Star in Bessemer, as I had hoped.

Instead I stopped at the Waffle House in Bessemer.  Actually, there are three or four Waffle Houses in Bessemer.  I went to the one on Academy, just off the interstate.  I went because (1) I was hungry, and (2) I was in a medium hurry, and (3) because they are a great company that deserves support.

Although it was well into the afternoon, I ordered breakfast, because when I go to Waffle House I order breakfast, regardless of the time of day or night.  I had two eggs over easy; bacon; hash browns scattered and peppered; and white toast.  That’s what I always have at Waffle House.

waffle house

It was very good.  One of the eggs was a tad overcooked, but the bacon was outstanding and the hash browns were excellent, with the potatoes properly scattered and crisp, the onions not overcooked, and the jalapeños offering a nice pick-me-up.  And the toast was cooked just as I like it.

It’s a great breakfast, but I hardly ever go to a Waffle House.  There aren’t any in DC or the near suburbs, and going to one would take at least an hour.  When I travel, I usually get a free breakfast at the hotel, grab something I can eat while I’m driving, or do without.   I do remember at least one breakfast meeting a few years ago at a Waffle House in Montgomery, the one on the Eastern Bypass.

But it’s a great company, and I wanted to support them.  The immediate impetus was the news that the CEO, Walt Ehmer, had gone to Wilmington, North Carolina in the midst of the Hurricane Florence flooding and was helping serve food to customers, while also doing his day job of keeping the five Waffle Houses there open.  Waffle House performs heroically amid natural disasters — FEMA actually has a Waffle House Index to gauge how damaging hurricanes are: the more Waffle Houses that close, the worse the storm.  Each Waffle House is open 24 hours, curfews permitting, and in many cases they are the only place people can get a hot meal. Waffle House moves Heaven and earth to keep them open.

A late dear friend, Bruce Higbie, had a daughter who worked as an accountant for Waffle House — she may still.  And at least once every year, every single employee of the Waffle House organization, from the CEO down, spends at least one day working in one of the restaurants, taking orders, serving food, and busing tables, just like CEO Ehmer in Wilmington.  I admire Waffle House for that.

A lot of people think ill of Waffle House.  In some cases they used to go to a Waffle House to cap off an evening of excessive drinking back in their salad days, when they were green in judgment.  Admittedly, Waffle Houses tend not to be in the most salubrious locations, and the clientele can be a little rough around the edges.  Having spent much of my work life litigating voting rights cases and prosecuting police brutality, hate crimes, and church arsons in less than salubrious locations, I am not put off by them; and most of my work travel was among people who were, at least by DC standards, a pretty darn around the edges.  To me, that means the salt of the earth.  The most influential book of my youth was The Grapes of Wrath.  I regard the Joads of all races as people who know important things I don’t know, and who can do important things I can’t do.  I respect and honor them.  I’m right at home in a Waffle House.

You should give Waffle House a try.  They make a very good breakfast, and they do a lot to help people in need.  They deserve our support.


11 thoughts on “Why I’m a Fan of Waffle House

  1. Check out this song by my pal, the Reverend Billy Wirtz:

    I’m on the album cover, at the Rev’s left hand in shades and a cowboy hat. Someone said I looked like the runner-up in a Hank Williams Jr look-alike contest. I thought “runner-up” was a great touch.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not even Billy’s best. That would might be “Roberta,” or maybe “Mennonite Surf Party.” Someone who writes a food blog might appreicate “Your Greens Give Me the Blues” and “Stick Out Your Can (‘Cause Here Comes the Garbage Man).”
        The Rev is one of America’s great underappreciated talents, like Sleepy LaBeef (RIP).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If you haven’t eaten there before, you might like the Wafle Shop in the Arlandria (or Little Chirilagua) section of Alexandria. I suppose the name is technically the Waffle Shop, but their awning with the misspelling of the name is a local landmark.

    My wife and I bought our first home here, sitting at the counter, back in 1981. It was a duplex in the Arna Valley section of Arlington. The owners were William O. Douglas’s last two law clerks (according to them, they were as much nurses as clerks to the retired justice). Since there were lawyers on both sides of the deal and we were all young and stupid, we decided we could handle drafting the closing papers ourselves and we closed on the deal over waffles, with no attorneys’ fees needed. (We did hire a title company.)

    It’s been a while since I’ve eaten there, but I as I remember the food, it seems like it would be a place you’d enjoy checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds good to me. My long imprisonment is coming to an end. My parole date is either when warm weather starts or two weeks after I get my second vaccine on March 19, whichever comes first.


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