White House calls Waffle House a model on how to reopen restaurants amid coronavirus

ATLANTA — Almost two months ago, Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer came to WSB Tonight to talk about how the restaurant chain planned to reopen their iconic dining rooms and save jobs.

Now, Ehmer said the White House called on them just this week to share their secrets to how they are keeping patrons who eat in safe.

Channel 2 Anchor Jorge Estevez talked to Ehmer, who said he shared his experience in reopening with business leaders in Washington, D.C.

“I wanted to share with them what we’re doing and what we’ve actually done to make our restaurants as safe as possible for our guests and our associates,” Ehmer said. “Two, I wanted to give them a little feedback on how things are going after the first few days.”

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Ehmer said he was impressed with how receptive the White House was to hearing from businesses and having them share their successes.

Ehmer said he also expressed his appreciation for the frontline workers and talked about the significant plight of the restaurant industry in the U.S.

Ehmer said that the company is putting social distancing protocols in place inside restaurants and following guidelines.

“What we’ve seen is we went from having empty restaurants to having mostly empty restaurants,” Ehmer said. “So we have some people who are coming to sit down and eat with us and the ones that are are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to have a small taste of normalcy.”

Estevez asked Ehmer how long the company could keep up with paying employees with so few customers.

“We’re trying to keep jobs for everybody,” Ehmer said. " We’re trying to create jobs for the restaurants that have closed. We’re optimistic that just a small little step forward is going to help us achieve that goal."