Unlike the Southern cult(ure) that it represents, the Waffle House Museum in Avondale Estates is only open twice a year. Saturday was one of those special days. I drive by the museum all the time but, like the chain itself, it’s so much part of our landscape that who pauses to consider what it’s accomplished?
This day—the 21,642nd day of continuous Waffle House service—I paused to celebrate the kitschy regional eatery that has inspired country songwriters and served as a backdrop for movies.
On Monday, March 25, Waffle House will open its newest location directly across from the Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park.
“This is a great location for us because of the millions of people who are down there each year who will be exposed to our brand,” said Pat Warner, Waffle House’s vice president of culture.
The restaurant, which will be known as “Unit 1996” — the year that Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympic Games, is located along Centennial Olympic Park Drive between Andrew Young International Boulevard and Luckie Street.
As a transplanted Northerner, I misunderstood Waffle House for many years. Wasn’t it just a kitschy Southern chain of roadside dives, frequented by truckers, cheapskates and all-night partiers?
So wrong. Way too many stories, families and milestones stack up at the Waffle House against that easy bias. The restaurant’s 24/7/365 reliability across a network of locations has been going so strong for so long (since 1955) that American culture – not just Atlanta’s — is scattered and covered with Waffle House stories.
Locally, the Waffle House mystique is celebrated on stage with last week’s return of the home-cooked play, “The Waffle Palace: Smothered, Covered & Scattered 24/7/365,” at the Horizon Theatre.
The play’s cast and writers met up with restaurant fans and regulars last weekend at the Waffle House Museum in Avondale Estates. The line between real waffle memories and made-up waffle drama melted like butter on a hot griddle.