“We are not in the food business…We are in the People business.”
Joe Rogers, Sr., Co-Founder of Waffle House Inc.
Our mission is to deliver a unique experience to our customers through delivering great food, friendly, attentive service, excellent price and a welcoming presence.
When Joe Rogers, Sr. bought a house from Tom Forkner in Avondale Estates, GA., in 1949, neither one knew where that relationship would take them.
It’s the mid 1950’s. Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner were neighbors–Joe working for a national restaurant chain, the Toddle House, and Tom in the local real estate business. Since employee ownership was not available with the Toddle House, the idea of starting a business they could own and share some ownership with each other seemed like a good idea. Joe and Tom wanted to create a restaurant focused on people–both the associates and customers–while serving quality food at a great value.
On Labor Day 1955, their dream became a reality–and an icon was born–when the first Waffle House restaurant opened its doors for business in Avondale Estates, an Atlanta suburb. After Unit 1 opened, there were no plans for another Unit, but the first restaurant established the Waffle House tradition of providing the friendliest service in town. Customer loyalty developed and the business grew steadily. A couple of years later (1957) Unit 2 was acquired and by 1961, there were four small restaurants.
In 1961, Joe left Toddle House and went to work full-time at Waffle House®. Tom went full time soon after. The 1960’s saw the emergence of a restaurant chain focused on customer service with a short order concept and, true to its founding beliefs, shared the ownership generously with management.
The company began to expand and new units were built in Georgia and neighboring states. The “Yellow Sign” soon became a familiar landmark along city streets and interstate highways across the Southeast. Under the guiding philosophy of “better before bigger,” Waffle House restaurants continued to grow in both new and existing markets.
Since day one, each Waffle House® restaurant has provided guests with a unique and comfortable dining experience. At every restaurant, the bright “Yellow Sign” greets customers like an old friend, the jukebox plays a variety of the now famous Waffle House songs and associates give customers a heartfelt greeting as they walk through the door. In addition, each restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, inspiring urban myths such as “Waffle House doors have no locks.”
Most established businesses of today started as just an idea among a few people with no expectation of great size and success. Joe and Tom did not envision what Waffle House has become, but they stuck by their concept and their belief in shared ownership. Now more than 60 years later, the southern icon has become A Unique American Phenomenon® by serving GOOD FOOD FAST®.
As the Waffle House system celebrates more than 60 years of service, we look forward to making the next generation of customers and associates part of the family. At Waffle House® restaurants, success is measured by one thing–PEOPLE.