Do you like the Waffle House, the Waffle House, the Waffle House? Do you like the Waffle House, because I do too.
On our drive from LA to Raleigh, it seriously seemed like there was either a Waffle House or a Cracker Barrel at every major exit along the 40. Neither of us had ever been to a Waffle House and they were always mildly intriguing with their simple box design and unassuming yellow and black signs. The parking lot is always three times the size of the actual “restaurant” as if they are expecting loads of buses at any minute to drop off the waffle-aficionado crowds. Well, my wait has ended and I have had THE WAFFLE HOUSE EXPERIENCE.
This morning a friend of mine invited me for breakfast in Durham. Per usual, the Waffle House was right off the 40 and easily accessible for all vehicle sizes…the larger the better. As soon as I entered the building I was welcomed with a “hi, hello, hiya” from everyone behind the counter. It was fabulous. Shortly after we arrived my friend plugged the Music Machine with a tattered $5.00 bill (new ones apparently don’t work) and started off our 35 song repertoire with “The Waffle House Song”. At this point two of the waitresses started singing and dancing while the rest of the place clapped along. Again it was fabulous.
Although the diner is very minimalistic, the booths are small, and there is a lot of smoke to contend with in the morning, it is an interesting social experiment with a lot of characters. One look around the place and you realize you have a slice of every race, income bracket and education represented. The food is also decent and the service was spot on.
My friend also has an approach with the Waffle House staff that is certainly worth sharing. He has taken the time to know the people there and learn a bit about their lives. Almost all of them are supporting someone else and depend on this minimum wage job to earn a living. They work hard and seem to have fun doing it. He completely believes in giving back to his community and leaves $20 each time he goes there. If he invites you to breakfast, he’ll leave $20 for you too. That is a pretty cool way of making someone’s morning.
Ironically he wasn’t feeling very well about an hour after we left the diner. I guess the Waffle House wasn’t satisfied, and wanted him to give just a little bit more back today. Whatever you do, don’t make the Waffle House gods angry.