ATLANTA — You know it's bad when Waffle House is closed.
Waffle House has been a part of life in the South since its founding in suburban Atlanta in early September 1955.
(Editor's Note: The video above was from Hurricane Florence)
The diner-style restaurant quickly spread across much of the southern United States, and is noted for always being open, with nearly 2,000 locations, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at all times of the day and night.
"Hour by hour, Waffle House’s reality is changing. We continue to adapt as different restrictions are imposed on how businesses can operate," they told 11Alive. "This week, with stricter restrictions being implemented, our system sales have declined by about 70% below normal levels. So, we’ve made some painful decisions."
They started using the Waffle House Index during natural disasters, particularly for hurricanes, in 2004. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) even began using it to determine how bad things were in particular areas.
In 2011, former FEMA director Craig Fugate mentioned what he termed the "Waffle House Index," as a measure of this.
"The Waffle House test just doesn't tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells how the larger community is faring," said a FEMA blog post from 2011.
It's simple. Green means that the restaurant is open with a full menu available, yellow means that they are serving food, but with a limited menu and red means the restaurant is closed.
Just this week, amid the coronavirus outbreak across the country, Waffle House brought out their maps again and listed 418 restaurants as closed and 1,574 showing green, or open.
One location previously closed in an individual instance because an employee at the location tested positive for coronavirus, but it later reopened. Others may be affected by various shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders.
Many locations, currently listed as green, may also be under a city or state order to serve carryout only, so you should plan ahead. Call your nearest Waffle House or check with your local government to find out.
"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," they said.
MORE CORONAVIRUS HEADLINES: