Began as a short order cook in 1955
There are many wonderous and amazing things to come out of The South and Waffle House is one of them. Sadly, co-founder Joe Rodgers passed away at the age of 97.
He began with now huge diner chain as a short-order cook in its first location in 1955.
Joe Rogers, who co-founded the Waffle House chain of U.S. roadside diners specializing in Southern-style breakfasts served 24-hours-a-day, has died. He was 97.
He died March 3, according to a statement emailed Monday by the company. No details were provided.
“My father genuinely loved every customer who walked into a Waffle House, and customers immediately understood that,” said Rogers’ son, Joe Rogers Jr., chairman of Waffle House Inc. “The customer always came first for him, and he made sure the customer came first for everyone who worked with him.”
A former short-order cook and restaurant manager, Joe Rogers Sr. teamed with real estate broker Thomas Forkner in 1955 to open their first quick-service, limited menu restaurant. Norcross, Georgia-based Waffle House grew to more than 1,800 locations in 25 mostly southern states to become the largest U.S. family restaurant chain by number of locations, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
The diners attracted truckers, late-night revelers and Sunday church-goers. They stressed customer service and a simple menu that included eggs, grits and biscuits and gravy, as well as pecan pie and its namesake pastry.
“We serve the basic foods, and the basic foods never change,” Rogers told the Associated Press in 2005. He persuaded a skeptical Forkner to keep Waffle House open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from the start.
There are two Waffle Houses in the small college town where I went to university. I spent many a late night studying with pancakes and bottomless coffee. Food was always exactly what you’d expect and so was the service. R.I.P. Mr. Rodgers, and thank you for creating such a fine establishment.
[Featured Image: By Yonikasz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42431321]
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