Waffle House closes more than 415 restaurants amid coronavirus concerns

Waffle House employee Cindy Whittamore cooks, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Dry Ridge, Ky. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Jason Braverman
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ATLANTA (WXIA) — You know it's bad when Waffle House is closed.

Waffle House has been a part of life in the south and other parts of the U.S. since its founding in suburban Atlanta in early September 1955.

The diner-style restaurant quickly spread across much of the southern United States, and is noted for always being open, with nearly 2,000 locations, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at all times of the day and night.

They started using the Waffle House Index during natural disasters, particularly for hurricanes, in 2004. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) even began using it to determine how bad things were in particular areas.

In 2011, former FEMA director Craig Fugate mentioned what he termed the "Waffle House Index," as a measure of this.

"The Waffle House test just doesn't tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells how the larger community is faring," said a FEMA blog post from 2011.

It's simple. Green means that the restaurant is open with a full menu available, yellow means that they are serving food, but with a limited menu and red means the restaurant is closed.

Just this week, amid the coronavirus outbreak across the country, Waffle House brought out their maps again and listed 418 restaurants as closed and 1,574 showing green, or open.

The chain hasn't directly stated the reason for the closings.

Some have closed in individual instances because an employee at the location tested positive for coronavirus, while others could possibly be affected by various shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders.

Many locations, currently listed as green, may also be under a city or state order to serve carryout only, so you should plan ahead. Call your nearest Waffle House or check with your local government to find out.