My friend Ligaya Figueras, the food and dining editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recently emailed me to announce excitedly: “I ate at Waffle House Saturday night for the first time.”
“Wow,” I replied, “your first time at Waffle House? Now, you're a real Atlantan!”
The reason this Midwest native finally had checked out the metro Atlanta-based chain of diners was for a special package of Waffle House articles
for the Sunday paper. She found the experience “really quirky and funny.”
Ligaya’s piece about her initiation into WH was headlined, “You never forget your first Waffle House experience,”
but, truth be told, I actually don’t actually remember my first time at a Waffle House.
A logical assumption is that it probably was while I was in college, but back then the WH didn’t occupy the elevated place in pop culture it has assumed in recent years, where hip-hop and country artists alike mention it in their lyrics, and you have the likes of “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert and alt country singer Sturgill Simpson visiting one of the diners for a bit on his show. (They ended up writing a song about Waffle House
to go on the chain’s jukeboxes, which feature an entire playlist of songs about WH.)
In other words, I don’t recall my first time at Waffle House, because it was no big deal.
That’s not to denigrate the place Waffle House occupies in our culinary universe. I mean, breakfast any time of the day or night. What’s not to love about that? As Atlanta Falcons star receiver Julio Jones bragged when he was an NFL rookie: “In high school, my nickname was ‘Waffle House.’ Know why? Because I’m always open.”
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner — or, the quintessential WH experience, grabbing a late-night meal to help sober up — Southerners have been going to Waffle House ever since the first one opened in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Ga., not far from our home in Decatur.
Over the years, Waffle House has become a big part of my family's history. Click here to read why.