Plans For Waffle House Closings in 2022

Joel Eisenberg

The cultural touchstone that is said to never close has shuttered some locations since 2020. Is this the beginning of a trend?

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Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Metro.us, Eater.com, Wikipedia.org, ScrapeHero.com, Mobile-Cuisine.com, and Forbes.com.

Introduction

According to Metro.us, in its archived April, 2018 article entitled “How Many Waffle Houses are There?” the number from four years ago may surprise some: There are 2,100 Waffle House restaurants nationwide, mostly in the Southeast, although there are Waffle Houses in 25 states. You can see a list of Waffle House locations here. Founded in Georgia in 1955, the restaurant chain is primarily a Southern phenomenon, although as of 2017 the chain had expanded as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The CEO of Waffle House is the son of the chain’s founder, and the business is tightly controlled: Only 20 percent of the locations are franchises, and there is a “very long and very distinguished” waiting list to own them, the vice chairman emeritus told Atlanta magazine in 2016.

The Metro.us article, it should be noted, was written days following a shooting tragedy, covered in the piece, in a Waffle House Nashville location. In 2017 and 2018 there were, in fact, several such incidents as listed on the company’s Wikipedia page, which is linked in the next section below.

Per “Waffle House, Known for Remaining Open in Crisis, Closes 418 Restaurants Because of Coronavirus,” a May, 2020 article published by Eater.com during the height of the pandemic, the company closes so rarely that the (temporary) closings as referenced in the piece’s title were akin to a cultural shift on its own.

As excerpted from the article: The Georgia-based diner icon, beloved for its breakfast food served in abundance across the South and in other states, is known for being open around the clock, even in times of extreme weather and natural disasters. Waffle House locations are so rarely closed that even the federal government takes its cues from the chain as a barometer for disaster recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses an informal metric called the “Waffle House Index” to determine the severity of a storm and how much disaster relief will be required.

Today, however, per WaffleHouse.com, the company website: Today, the Waffle House system is more than 1,900 locations in 25 states.  All open 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

This figure appears is down from its listed height of 2100 locations. Note ScrapeHero.com shares the most current count: There are 1,958 Waffle House locations in the United States as of May 25, 2022. The state with the most number of Waffle House locations in the US is Georgia, with 431 locations, which is 22% of all Waffle House locations in America.

Have the above circumstances forced some permanent closures? Are there more closures presently being planned?

Let us explore further.

Waffle House, 2022

As they do with most major businesses, Wikipedia.org features a comprehensive page devoted to Waffle House.

See here for that page, which elaborates on the company’s business and de facto cultural standing: Each Waffle House location is open 24 hours daily, up to 365 days annually. This schedule has inspired the urban myth that "Waffle House doors have no locks." The chain's restaurants almost always have jukeboxes, which have traditionally played 45-rpm singles and, in some cases, CDs. Waffle House has released music through its own record label, Waffle Records.

According to MobileCuisine.com, in its piece assessing franchise opportunities, “How Much Will it Cost to Open a Waffle House in 2022?” it is stated that no franchise opportunities are presently available due to consistency issues from location to location.

The article also mentions, referencing a Wall Street Journal report: According to the report, the value of Waffle House Inc stock has increased each year for more than 5 decades. It’s a little difficult to get updated average sales for Waffle House because Joe Rogers Jr., the chairman, does not divulge their sales figures. However, a report by Forbes in 2020 stated that Waffle House usually has annual revenues of around $1.3 billion.

The company wound appear financially healthy based on those numbers, with the caveat that further detailed information for 2021 and so far for 2022 remain elusive.

Conclusion

There has been no recent indication from the entity’s corporate office that Waffle House is shuttering doors either temporarily or permanently.

All reported indications, though, appear to agree permanently shutting further locations in the near-future is highly unlikely. The media widely believes, based on a targeted Google search, that the company is financially strong, and any past closings were strategic in nature.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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