Perhaps you have enjoyed dinner and a movie at one of the places where a restaurant and movie theater combined in one facility. Or maybe you have been to a “dinner theater” (sometimes called dinner and a show) that combines a restaurant-style meal with a staged play or musical.

If you are a baseball fan in Atlanta you might want to check out the Chop House at the Braves new Sun Trust Park. Situated in right field of the stadium, it has three levels, including two party decks and a new field level which can be turned into a large group area directly behind right field. A full menu affords many choices of food while you enjoy the hometown team win the game (at least that is what you hope for).

Waffle House photo of: The Sign

Although each of the aforementioned experiences may be good, I have a better, and more economical  alternative. Go to any Waffle House and sit where you can see the food being prepared. I guarantee that you will be entertained and amazed as you watch the skills of the short order cooks. Don’t tell Waffle House but I think they should charge extra for seats that allow you to be so well entertained.

Waffle House® restaurants are not intended to be entertainment venues but they certainly can be. The “unbeatable combination of good food with outstanding service” have made it a “beloved icon of the South” the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day 1955 in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The original restaurant, which was sold by the chain in the early 1970s, has been restored using original blueprints and is now open as a museum.

Image may contain: food

Don’t let the name fool you. The menu includes many choices not just for breakfast but lunch and dinner as well. And all Waffle House restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year- the doors are never locked.

The original founders of the Waffle House brand both died in 2017 within two months of each other. Joe Rodgers Sr. passed away on March 3, 2017. Tom Forkner passed away on April 26, 2017.[9]

All food is prepared fresh, cooked to order and served on real china at every Waffle House. The kitchen is out front and in full view- and that is the where the entertainment comes in.

Waffle House photo of: The crew

On a recent visit to a Waffle House near my home our party of four enjoyed pecan waffles, bacon, eggs cooked to order, grits, raisin toast, and hashbrowns scattered, smothered and covered (one of many combinations available), and coffee. Two cooks and three servers provided excellent service- and good food- to us and the other 20-25 customers.

We sat at a booth close to and with a good view of the food preparation area. To fully appreciate the scene you must understand that nothing is written down. The servers shout out the orders in a language only understood by the grill operator and they use a system to make sure orders are right that is too complicated for me to understand or attempt to explain.

Carlos Whittaker describes his experience as a Waffle House short order cook this way: “Being a Waffle House cook was without a doubt, the hardest, most mind consuming job I have EVER had. 5 days after training on the grill in the afternoons from 2-4, they threw me into the fire. 6:30 am, that next Monday morning…’Bacon egg and cheese plate on 2 like 1! Waffle Up! Hashbrown scattered covered smothered chunked topped and diced. Ham and Cheese Omelet with extra cheese on 2 like 1! Pull a Ham!’ This was the first 90 seconds.” 

Good short order cooks/grill operators must have skills in many areas including communication, customer service, hand-eye coordination, sense of taste and smell, stamina, and teamwork (http://www.snagajob.com/job-descriptions/short-order-cook). In spite of the requirement of being multi-talented, these people are not highly compensated for their labor. The Board of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage is $23,130. Servers make even less.

Consider Waffle House for your next dining out experience. You don’t have to dress up. The environment is pleasant. The entertainment is free. The service and food will be good and you won’t spend a lot of money. You won’t regret it, but be sure to leave a generous tip.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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