One of my last thoughts as I drove towards the flight that would finally take me north of the Mason-Dixon line was, “Waffle House, I will miss thee.” Once I got to Massachusetts, I realized the real importance of Waffle house in southern culture, as it is the true building equivalent of an entire region of the United States. Founded in Atlanta in 1955, it quickly became the home of both the most deliciously disgusting (or disgustingly delicious, it’s really your preference) diners in the history of food.
For those of the uninitiated, the menu is above, with the highlights being: waffles (chocolate chip, blueberry, strawberry, or anything you want really), steak, eggs, waffles, omelets, burgers, wraps, chili, soup, salad (for those who come to Waffle House for a healthy meal), and, if you get close enough with the cooks, a hamburger patty put between two waffles. But no one goes to waffle house for the food (even though the waffles are actually mad good), people go to waffle house for the… ambience. Each Waffle House is outfitted with its own greasy tables and floors, fitted with perpetually dirty booths where you’re sure at least nine childbirths have been taken place. All of this resides inside a darkened brown and yellow building, probably with all of the lights in the “Waffle House” sign burned out.
I really suggest trying out the Waffle House Diet.
But as my mother has always said, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and Waffle House is no exception; the fine upstanding people who work at Waffle House are what really make the place tick. From the waiter named Jick who only works the night shift and also just happens to be the world’s nicest drug dealer, to Anthea, the cook who, despite only having one arm is still the most badass wafflecook you’ll ever meet. All of these things combine to create one of the greatest experiences known to mankind, attending waffle house, drunk, at 2 AM.
Imagine walking drunkenly through the suburban sprawl, no specific destination in sight, when that giant yellow sign rises above you, inviting you inside to enjoy deliciously unhealthy waffles. You sit down as a women who you think vaguely reminds you of that episode of “Cops” on petty theft asks, “Is there anything I can get for you’ darlin’?” You respond with the skill of an expert ordering, “A double waffle, chocolate chip. Cheese ‘n eggs, and hashbrowns smothered, covered, and chunked.” The waitress smiles, telling you, “It’ll be right up, honey. Y’all jus’ sit tight.” You wait at least 20 minutes for your meal (pretty quick for southern standards), and enjoy both the company of your drunk friends and the homeless man who may or may not have just showered in the sink and is now seated in the booth next to you.
Came up in an actual Google Image search for “Waffle House Waitress”
While that slow paced, warm life was grand, I’m in the northeast, and as evidenced by a recent trip to Boston, no one is going to stop on the sidewalk and say, “Hello!” with a great big smile, but I’m reveling in that difference; the edge is a bit sharper, and it’s a nice change of pace. The transition was weird at first (especially when I was called out for a rare slip into a southern accent which I don’t really have, pronouncing ten as “tay-en”), but I realized that it’s going to be one of the best times of my life, bringing a little Waffle House into the realm that formerly belonged solely to Antonio’s.
(New) Home, sweet home