Update: March 30, 2020
Waffle House announced March 26 that 429 stores are now closed in the United States.
The original article continues below:
The restaurant that never closes is finally shutting its doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During natural disasters, Waffle House restaurants have always been on the frontline. The chain's policy to stay open has always been an unofficial way for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to track the severity of natural disasters like hurricanes. In fact, FEMA uses the unofficial "Waffle House Index" to track every Waffle House. If the restaurant chain closes up shop, it means the disaster threat is high. So when Waffle House closed 365 restaurants yesterday, people started to realize this coronavirus outbreak is getting serious.
Waffle House Closes 365 Restaurants, 1,627 Still Open
#WaffleHouseIndexRed: 365 Waffle House restaurants closed. 1,627 open.
Posted by Waffle House on Tuesday, March 24, 2020
According to a Facebook post, the Atlanta-based chain has decided to close hundreds of locations in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Georgia, Maryland, Kansas, Mississippi, Tenessee, and Louisiana. Most closures are along the Gulf Coast and in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
These closures are hitting home for many diners in the United States. When Waffle House closes, it's time to start taking it seriously, because Waffle House never closes. To put it in perspective, only 107 locations closed when Hurricane Katrina hit.
Earlier this month one Waffle House location in Cherokee County temporarily closed due to one employee testing positive for covid-19. Since then the employee has been given a clean bill of health. They had not worked at any restaurant since March 1.
Waffle House restaurants that are still open only offer take-out service to reduce social contact. This service will continue until the restaurant is closed or the dining rooms open back up.
Until covid-19 is contained, practice social distancing and support your favorite restaurants by ordering delivery or take-out. We are all in this together, it's just going to take some time.
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Watch: The Waffle House Index: Metric for Disaster