Waffle House closes hundreds of locations amid coronavirus

Some outposts of the 24-hour diner chain remain open for now.
Waffle House has temporarily shuttered 365 locations around the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.
Waffle House has temporarily shuttered 365 locations around the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2019) ]
Published Mar. 25, 2020

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The popular Georgia-based restaurant company known for almost never closing its doors is doing just that.

Waffle House has temporarily shuttered 365 locations around the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other outposts of the 24-hour diner chain — 1,627 of them — remain open. While the chain’s website was down on Wednesday, a map they shared on Facebook showed that several locations on Florida’s west coast were closed.

On March 24, the company took to its Facebook page and other social media platforms with the news, announcing that the closures have turned the “Waffle House Index” somewhat red.

#WaffleHouseIndexRed: 365 Waffle House restaurants closed. 1,627 open.

Posted by Waffle House on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the index as an informal metric to measure how communities are doing during emergencies, such as hurricanes.

The Waffle House Index is also color-coded, with green meaning a location is open with a full menu, yellow meaning a location is open with a limited menu and red meaning a location is closed.

“... the Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells us how the larger community is faring,” wrote Dan Stoneking in a 2011 entry on the FEMA blog. “The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can reopen, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a stronger recovery for that community.”

Related: You'll know Hurricane Florence is bad when the Waffle House Index hits code red

In a March 15 post on Facebook, Waffle House said it was doing its best to keep customers and associates safe and keep associates employed.

“We want to acknowledge the great efforts of our associates, who work hard every shift to create a safe, warm and welcoming dining experience 24 hours daily,” the post read. “We are working hard to support them as we do our best to manage through this crisis.”

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