Here’s how Waffle House restaurants are used to determine severity of storms

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Waffle House restaurants have their own storm center inside their headquarters in Norcross -- and its fully staffed as the nation prepares for Hurricane Ian to make landfall.

The restaurant chain is known for keeping their restaurants open when everything else is shut down.

It takes a lot of preparation and, over the years, even state officials use Waffle House as an indicator of how bad things are.

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This is the Waffle House Index:

If a restaurant is open with a full menu, that means they've got full power and things aren't so bad. If the restaurant is open with a limited menu, power is an issue, which means things are getting bad.

Code Red is when the restaurant is closed. We all know that if Waffle House is closed, that means to take cover.

“All the eyes are on us, so we have to deliver,” Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner said.

Channel 2 Action News got permission to go inside and see the team of people who sit around a table and discuss every detail of what their restaurants need to stay open during Hurricane Florence.


They focus on three things: people, power and food.

"We've been responding to storms back to Hugo, which was decades ago. It's just now, the spotlight is on us," Warner said.

Hundreds of their restaurants are in Hurricane Ian’s path and they’ve got a plan for every single one of them; a plan to have employees and generators in place if power goes out and a plan to get food delivered if they run out.

Waffle House utilizes different tools to track the storms. They even have a social media person making sure they get all the information out on social media.

The Waffle House Index was created by a man who used to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and currently works for Waffle House.

"He's basically saying if a Waffle House is closed, that's pretty serious. If we're on a limited menu, there's probably limited power. If we're on the full menu, everything is OK," Warner said.

The plans also include what to do after a Waffle House is forced to close. They have a strategy of how they will open the doors as soon as possible.

The restaurant chain feeds information to first responders, state officials and reporters.


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