Waffle House, the Georgia-based chain that is known for staying open even during the most severe weather, closed 17 of its 230 restaurants during the storm in the region affected by Hurricane Florence.
While some area locations remained open, Waffle House’s downtown Wilmington location at 255 N. Front St. was forced to close.
“The roof was blown off the building,” said Pace Burt, a Georgia-based developer who owns of the first floor of the building.
Burt said that the damage to the roof resulted in flooding on the floor above the Waffle House, which eventually led to damage on the first floor.
While the restaurant has remained closed since the storm, Burt spoke with Ryan Peterson, a representative from Waffle House, on Tuesday. Burt said Peterson assured him that the necessary repairs have been made and the company is awaiting a final inspection from the health department before reopening. Burt said Peterson is hopeful that the downtown location will reopen as early as next week.
On Sept. 17, just days after Florence passed over Wilmington, Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer, along with a team of around 150 Waffle House employees from around the country, flew to Wilmington as part of the company’s emergency response team. The team spent several days helping staff locations impacted by the storm and feed the community in its time of need.
Waffle House has four limited menus in place for disasters: a no-power menu, a no-water menu, and two limited menus with a wider range of options that are deployed depending on customer volume, according to a report by the Associated Press.
And there is also the “Waffle House Index,” which even FEMA has been known to reference in terms of a storm’s severity. The index consists of three color-coded levels: green means a restaurant is open and serving a full menu; yellow indicates the menu has been scaled back and there may be water but no power; and red indicates the restaurant is completely shut down.
“Waffle House wanted to be sure that all of the building’s repairs were complete prior to reopening,” Burt said. “But they’re certainly anxious to begin serving customers in downtown Wilmington.”
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