The “Waffle House Index” has gone red as over 400 locations are closing their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re from the South, you know these restaurants are open 24/7, 365 days a year and usually stay open during natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes.
But what is the “Waffle House Index”?
Waffle House has a reputation for their disaster preparedness. There’s a command center at their corporate headquarters in Georgia which monitors pending disaster situations.
— Waffle House News (@WaffleHouseNews) September 11, 2018
They assemble “jump teams” full of operators who travel to hard hit areas with things like generators, RVs and gasoline to help the restaurant get open and stay open during recovery efforts. Needless to say, Waffle House is always prepared.
Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is credited with coining the term “Waffle House Index.” And it’s actually pretty simple.
GREEN = Waffle House is open and serving full meals. Officials know things are going well and basic services are intact.
YELLOW = Waffle House is open but serving a limited menu. This could mean anything from widespread power outages to a contaminated water supply, and some federal assistance may be needed.
RED = Waffle is closed completely and major assistance is needed in that area.
Due to their preparedness, Waffle Houses don’t go red very often. And after hearing the news of the closures, several people took to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Waffle House index: if after a hurricane, local waffle houses are open with a full menu, things are basically good. Limited menu, they’re ok. If they close, it’s bad.
After Hurricane Katrina, 107 closed.
365 closed today.
— Dr. David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) March 25, 2020
Social distancing means don’t even go to Waffle House! We couldn’t anyways, it was closed. For real, you know things are bad when #wafflehouse is closed. Stay home, stay safe, wash your hands and let’s flatten the… https://t.co/EVGWXJB5GA
— Denise Watrous (@watrousphoto) March 25, 2020
They shutting down #wafflehouse in ATL. Hope y’all got your groceries because the emergency is real.
— The 🥰 (@TuTruNReal) March 22, 2020
So far, all of the Waffle House locations in North Alabama are staying open for to-go orders.
No word yet on how long the locations will be closed or if more closures are on the way.