The familiar sight of a Waffle House is a welcome refuge for weary travelers and, often, those affected by disaster. From its all-day hours to the top-as-you-please hash browns, the diner chain has a reputation for reliability and disaster preparedness. Now, a new generation of Waffle Houses takes that reputation a step further. Waffle House #2314, at 618 Beach Boulevard in coastal Biloxi, was built to a hurricane-resistant code and is the first-ever Waffle House perched atop flood-ready stilts.
“It’s a bit of an urban legend that we stay open during a hurricane, but we do work to reopen as quickly as possible,” says Pat Warner, the company’s director of external affairs. “If we can be there for our customers in the immediate aftermath of a storm, there’s a feeling that the community made it through and is coming back.”
New structures in hurricane zones will be designed to local codes, most with elevated brick foundations and reinforced windows to withstand nature’s harshest conditions. “We have folks who tell us Waffle House was the first place they could charge their phone after Katrina, or where they got their first hot meal after Hugo,” Warner says. Regulars and out-of-town guests at the new outlet can savor their breakfasts with a bird’s-eye view of the Gulf of Mexico, knowing that if waters rise, the glowing yellow box intends to remain a calm spot in the storm.