The Waffle House in Oak Ridge is not among the chain’s restaurants that are closing, but the Oak Ridge location is open for take-out orders only.
Some locations are closing as sales plummet as COVID-19 spreads and government officials sometimes prohibit certain activities such as dining in restaurants. Most of Waffle House’s closures are in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions, CNN reported Wednesday.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Waffle House said that 365 restaurants would close and 1,627 would remain open.
But by Thursday, the number of closures had been revised up to 429, with 1,563 restaurants remaining open. About 22 percent of the chain’s restaurants are closing.
The Oak Ridge location (Waffle House #1292) remains open. But the restaurant, which is on South Illinois Avenue, is preparing take-out orders only. An order from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Sunday prohibits eating inside restaurants through at least midnight April 6.
Overall, restaurants in Oak Ridge seem to have generally experienced a significant drop-off in traffic, judging by their parking lots, although Chick-fil-A has had drive-through lines that have wrapped around the building. There have been have been reports of some restaurant employees in Oak Ridge having their hours reduced or being laid off.
Waffle House told CNN on Wednesday that its sales have dropped about 70 percent below normal levels since the COVID-19 crisis began.
It’s not clear if the restaurants that are closing now might re-open later.
Waffle House, a Georgia-based chain established in 1955, has 1,992 restaurants in about two dozen states, and it is a staple in the South, NBC News said. The restaurants are known for staying open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Waffle House, which has nearly 45,000 employees, declared a “WaffleHouseIndexRed.” NBC News said the Waffle House Index was coined nearly a decade ago, and it refers to the measure of destruction based on how many Waffle Houses remains open or have closed. The chain is known for its disaster preparedness and ability to stay open during destructive weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, NBC News said. A former FEMA director told the news network said the agency monitors the closures of Waffle Houses following natural disasters to determine where to focus their response.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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