news 2 days ago

Waffle House closes hundreds of locations amid coronavirus

Tampa Bay Times — Meaghan Habuda Tampa Bay Times

March 25--Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.

??

The popular Georgia-based restaurant company known for almost never closing its doors is doing just that.

Waffle House has temporarily shuttered 365 locations around the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other outposts of the 24-hour diner chain — 1,627 of them — remain open. While the chain’s website was down on Wednesday, a map they shared on Facebook showed that several locations on Florida’s west coast were closed.

On March 24, the company took to its Facebook page and other social media platforms with the news, announcing that the closures have turned the “Waffle House Index” somewhat red.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the index as an informal metric to measure how communities are doing during emergencies, such as hurricanes.

The Waffle House Index is also color-coded, with green meaning a location is open with a full menu, yellow meaning a location is open with a limited menu and red meaning a location is closed.

“... the Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells us how the larger community is faring,” wrote Dan Stoneking in a 2011 entry on the FEMA blog. “The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can reopen, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a stronger recovery for that community.”

In a March 15 post on Facebook, Waffle House said it was doing its best to keep customers and associates safe and keep associates employed.

“We want to acknowledge the great efforts of our associates, who work hard every shift to create a safe, warm and welcoming dining experience 24 hours daily,” the post read. “We are working hard to support them as we do our best to manage through this crisis.”

??

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

STORES REACT TO VIRUS: Some businesses adjust hours or announce temporary closings.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: See updates and tips posts, and ask questions of our journalists.

FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Reddit.

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.

___

(c)2020 the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

Visit the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) at www.tampabay.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.