The first Waffle House opened on Labor Day weekend in 1955 at 2719 East College Avenue in Avondale Estates, Georgia. Waffle House Inc. is a restaurant chain with over 2100 locations found in 25 states in the United States. Most of the locations are in the Southern United States, where the chain remains a regional cultural icon. Waffle House is headquartered in unincorporated Gwinnett County, Georgia, near Norcross.
Waffle House was founded by Joe Rogers, Sr. and Tom Forkner, who both continue to own a majority of the company. Rogers started in the restaurant business as a short-order cook in 1947, at the Toddle House in New Haven, Connecticut. Rogers' concept was to marry the speed of fast food with table service and around the clock availability.
Forkner suggested naming it Waffle House, as waffles were the most profitable item on the 16-item menu. The fragile nature of waffles also made the point that it was a dine-in, not a carry-out, restaurant, but it confused patrons as to meal availability other than breakfast.
Most people know that Waffle House is open all night for meals and not just breakfast. However, most people don't know that according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Waffle House is one of the top four corporations, along with Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Lowe's, for disaster response. That means Waffle House has an extensive disaster management plan with on-site and portable generators and pre-positioned food and ice ahead of severe weather events such as a hurricane. Waffle House has the ability to remain open after a severe storm, possibly with a limited menu.