Waffle Houses spread like grease on a griddle after the first one opened 57 years ago .
With the chain now boasting 1,600 restaurants, the birth of Waffle House will be recognized for its historic significance. At 1 p.m. Sept. 8, a Georgia roadside historic marker will be dedicated outside the first restaurant -- now a Waffle House museum -- at 2719 E. College Ave.
The significance of the first Waffle House is summed up in the words that will appear on the marker.
At this location, on Labor Day 1955, Avondale Estates neighbors Joe Rogers, Sr. and Tom Forkner founded the first Waffle House restaurant. The name was inspired by the most popular item on the original menu. The restaurant’s focus on fast-food speed and round-the-clock service reflected mid-century societal shifts toward an automobile culture.
As suburbs and the interstate highway system developed throughout the region and the nation, Waffle House grew to include over 1,600 locations nationwide, becoming an American cultural icon open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2004 Waffle House reacquired the original restaurant building and opened it as a museum in 2008.
Waffle Houses can be found across the United States, but there's a heavy concentration in the Southeast.
With the signature yellow roofs and interchangable interiors, the restaurants inspire deep loyalty among customers who like the simple food and predictable menu.
Why did the Georgia Historical Society decide to put a marker up for a mere restaurant?
Dr. Stan Deaton, senior historian with the Georgia Historical Society, explained by email: “Historical markers commemorate the people, events, places, and institutions that have created modern Georgia. Waffle House—like the Home Depot and Coca-Cola—has become an important part of the American economic, cultural, and social fabric, and it began in Georgia.”
The marker will be erected by the Georgia Historical Society, the Waffle House, the City of Avondale Estates, and the Avondale Estates Downtown Development Authority. The museum will be open noon to 3 p.m. on Sept. 8.
And if you're hungry, there's a fully operational Waffle House across the road at 2850 E. College Ave.