What Makes the Waffle House So Special, In the South?

If you are not familiar with The Waffle House restaurant, then you must live under a rock! I have been going to Waffle House since I was in diapers. This place is the Holy Grail for many Southerners. You can meet all sorts of interesting and funny people here. You can also see some of the strangest things on the planet!

For those three of you that have never been to a Waffle House, they serve quick food 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can go in at any time and get anything on the menu, ‘cause it is always the same. I even ate Thanksgiving dinner at a Waffle House when I was a kid. They do not serve turkey, just FYI. BUT, they serve hash browns that come “smothered, covered, chucked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country.”

I can recall my mom having a particular attachment to the several Waffle Houses near our home. If you have ever visited Georgia, you know that you cannot throw a rock without hitting a Waffle House. It was so popular when I was a kid, that they built two Waffle Houses at the same exit! One for each direction from the interstate.

At the location that my mom seemed to frequent was the hang out for the Sears Department Store appliance repair men. There would be as many as 10 of them, at any given time, eating breakfast at 10:00 am and slowly drinking coffee. Maybe this is why Sear went out of business, as their repair men were always at the Waffle House. It actually became a running joke that if you did not know where the Sears guy was, check the Waffle House on Lawrenceville Highway. True fact.

Waffle House has provided a place for “good food, fast” for every walk of life. The things that make Waffle House so special are too many to count. However, the one rule I have observed is this, you walk into a Waffle House and you are the same as everyone else! There are no class wars, no one is treated any less Southern than another and you always get called sweet names such as sugar, honey, precious and the like. You can be the president or a vagrant, but here is a place you are always treated kindly and with a little dash of Southern love.

This “love” can come to an abrupt halt, if you lose your manners. I was once at a Waffle House when a batch of rowdy, “mouthing off” boys came into the restaurant. They were strutting their stuff and causing a bit of a raucous in the place. The boys got seated and the waitress came over to take their order.

Now, in most restaurants, I would call a waitress a server. However, to true Southern fashion, a Waffle House “waitress” is a badge of honor. Being a “waitress” at Waffle House is not an easy job, by any means. You have to put up with over the road truckers, drunk people at 2:00 am that can’t read the menu because they can’t see it, deal with flirting customers that find themselves overly appealing and some people are lousy tippers!

Anyway, back to the boys. These dingle-berry-butts proceed to start “talkin’ sass” to the waitress. I could not hear what they were saying, but I saw the waitress walk over to the table with a smile and gave a “how ya’ll” in greeting. In less than 15 seconds, the smile faded from her face and the dark clouds of “bad manners” trailed across her brow. This was not going to bode well for the boys. Trust me. As the waitress’s patience began to dwindle, I called out for my check to pay in order to get the hell out. This was not my first rodeo at a Waffle House.

However, I was unable to move from my seat, like I had a magnet on my butt that held me to the formica seat bench. This was going to be a complete train wreck and I was rubber neckin’ on the show down to come. I already knew who would win, but I had to see the “race” to the finish line for myself. In true Southern style, I kept my eyes wide open and my mouth closed shut!

The waitress finally reaches her volcanic breaking point with these bozo’s. She says nothing as she slowly walks away from the table without a word. Uh, oh. She walks to the back, out of sight into the kitchen room, then shortly, she returns to the table. She looks at the “little brat pack” and SCREAMS across the restaurant. “I WILL CUT YOU FROM TIT TO TOE.” Did I mention she was also holding a butcher knife that looked like a machete. She had it raised in the air and was making mock stabbing motions to illustrate her possible course of action.

Pause to the story for comments. I did not run in fear or have any concerns for my own safety. You see, the waitress was only focused on the problem children in her restaurant. She had no intentions of scaring or harming anyone else in the entire restaurant. As we say in the South, she was protecting her turf. She probably would have done the same to protect another customer, if they were threatened. This restaurant is “their house”, you do not mess with them.

Needless to say, once the brats realized who they were messin’ with, they quieted down considerably and rather quickly. I do not remember, but I think they just got up and left. Good plan, Poindexter’s. I assure you; the rest of the patrons were ready to spring into action if these boys decided to take this waitress “on.” However, most of the waitresses I know do not need “back up”, they can take you out a spoon!

Most people that eat in a Southern Waffle House conform to an etiquette. We take care of our own and we will fight to protect each other. If you come in with sass’n on your mind, we will change it for you, or “assist” you in leaving. This means thrown out on your ear, for those of you now familiar with Southern manners.

You can come to the Waffle house in a 3-piece designer suit with an entourage or in your pajamas and slippers. You will be greeted with the same smiling faces and given hot, delicious food. This is where you can “come home” and be with good people.

As the Cracker Queen, Lauretta Hannon always says, “Wear Mink to the Waffle House!” It is a “come as you are” party every day!

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