SUMMERDALE, Alabama — Amid concerns over the Coronavirus, the Georgia-based restaurant chain Waffle House has announced the temporary closing of 420 locations across the country, including five in Baldwin County.
“Hour by hour, Waffle House’s reality is changing,” according to a statement issued by the company. “We continue to adapt as different restrictions are imposed on how businesses can operate.”
This week, according to the release, with stricter restrictions being implemented, the company’s system sales for have declined by about 70 percent below normal levels.
“So, we’ve made some painful decisions.”
Over this past week, 420 Waffle Houses across the country have temporarily closed. Some of those closures resulted from consolidation of restaurant operations.
Among the locations are five in Baldwin County, including two in Daphne, store No. 1301, located at 6781 U.S. 90, and store No. 2290, located at 1427 U.S. 98; along with store No. 1805 at 1024 Alabama 59 in Summerdale; store No. 1851 at 12615 Foley Beach Express in Foley; and store No. 849 at 382 E. Beach Blvd. in Gulf Shores. Another store, located at 17352 Perdido Key Drive, just across the state line from Orange Beach in Pensacola, Florida, has also temporarily closed.
“During significant weather events such as hurricanes, we have used a systematic approach of utilizing our available resources to help recovering communities get back to normal as quickly as possible,” according to the release. “Out of that approach, a measuring criterion known as the Waffle House Index has been born.”
The Index typically has been used to gauge the level of impact to the communities affected by natural disasters or storms.
“Never has the Waffle House Index been used to track the effects of an event that was not weather-related, until now.”
This week, information on the number of Waffle House closures related to COVID-19 was posted.
“We referred to the Index as a way to help people understand how big of an impact this virus has had on the restaurant industry” according to the release. “The reference to ‘Code Red’ also highlights the tremendous impacts that are being felt by many of our Associates and their families.
“With so few customers visiting our restaurants, we are rapidly losing the ability to offer enough work hours for our associates to earn money needed to live their lives and pay their bills. Hardest hit so far, are our restaurants in the Midwest and along parts of the Gulf Coast.”
Four locations in Mobile County, three in Mobile and one in Bayou La Batre, along with locations in Pace and Gulf Breeze, Florida, have also temporarily closed. Waffle House’s location map lists a total of 23 locations in Mobile County and 22 in the Escambia/Santa Rosa County area around Pensacola.
Seven locations in Baldwin County remain open, including store No 365, 29100 U.S. 98, Daphne; No. 869, 13101 Flowerwood Road, Loxley; No. 884, 2660 S. McKenzie St., Foley; No. 957, 105 McMeans Ave., Bay Minette; No. 1462, 373 Greeno Road, Fairhope; No. 1739, 21852 Alabama 59, Robertsdale; and No. 1981, 2911 U.S. 98, Daphne.
“Waffle House is striving to keep as many stores open for as long as we can, in order to support as many Associates as possible,” according to the release.
Currently, around 1,515 stores are open in various capacities. Out of those stores, 173 are open on limited shifts. Another 1,312 stores are operating a take-out-only business while another 197 stores are able to offer limited-capacity, dine-in service with social distancing protocols in place.
Headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, Waffle House was founded in 1955 and includes nearly 2,000 restaurants company and franchisee owned.
For more information visit wafflehouse.com or go to @wafflehousenews on Twitter for updates on closures and other information. You can also check with your local store for availability and hours of operation.