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Don’t Ruin Waffle House

The Underappreciated Architecture of Waffle House

CityLab, May 26, 2015

“Why would you eat your grits anyplace else?” That’s the title of a song on the Waffle House jukebox, and it’s what I think to myself every time I dig into breakfast at the greasy-spoon chain, a personal favorite, which has some 1,500 locations from Delaware to Arizona.

Waffle House is not Chartres Cathedral, admittedly, but it has a certain architectural je ne sais quoi. The classic Waffle House is minimalist in design, with a lemon-yellow strip running around the top, above a wide band of windows and, often, a red or red-striped awning. The interior is outfitted with retro globe lights and red-and-chrome stools. Unlike most fast-food joints, Waffle House has an open kitchen, so you can watch the cooks as they scatter and smother your hash browns.

But the Waffle House experience, little changed since it debuted in Georgia in 1955, may now be in for an overhaul. Earlier this month, the chain revealed the design for a new restaurant it will build on Canal Street in New Orleans. “It’s probably going to be the fanciest Waffle House you will ever see,” a company representative told the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments.

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