Scattered, smothered and covered! Did you know our Neighborhood of the Month, Avondale Estates, is the birthplace of Waffle House restaurants?!
Opened on Labor Day 1955, Waffle House was founded by Avondale Estates neighbors Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner. They originally had no plans to expand, but that changed when they purchased what would be the second location in 1957. By 1961, they had four freestanding restaurants and continued to expand throughout the 1960s and beyond. The iconic yellow color scheme was “chosen by the founders because school buses could be seen far away,” according to an article on the chain in the AJC.
One of the major Waffle House traditions centers on how you'd like your hash browns: smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped? But most of these options were not on the original Waffle House menu. Initially, you only had the option of getting them scattered (scattered on the grill) and smothered (with onions.) The ability to further customize your toppings was introduced in the 1980s, when they added covered (in cheese) and chunked (with ham!) as options. The other options were added over the years, based on customer demand.
Everyone loves the jukeboxes but something else you may not know, Waffle House has been releasing songs since the 1980s on its own record label - Waffle Records! The idea came about in the 1980s when co-founder Joe Rogers Sr. wanted to supplement the jukeboxes with songs that "expanded the Waffle House experience." Since then, over 40 songs have been produced, including titles like "They're Making My Order," "There are Raisins in My Toast," and "Special Lady," a song about the waitresses who keep the chain running. The songs are available at most locations, so definitely give one a listen the next time you're visiting.
The original Avondale Estates Waffle House has been converted into a museum, so if you'd like to grab a waffle or an order of hashbrowns, you'll have to visit another location. But, you can get a tour of the restaurant and the building next door, which houses tons of Waffle House artifacts such as old menus, uniforms and dishwashers. One sign reads “Friends don’t let friends eat pancakes.”
The original building has been occupied by two other businesses since the original location closed sometime in the late 60s / early 70s — first a Chinese food restaurant and then a tire store. Waffle House had to buy it back once they realized the building's history and significance.
The museum hosts open houses each year and is open to tours by appointment only (770-326-7086).
The Waffle House Museum is located at 2719 East College Ave., Avondale Estates.