Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Waffle House Memories

Remember the Waffle House? No, I don’t mean the one with the yellow sign down by the interchange. I mean the Waffle House, the one in Franklin where my friends and I spent long hours “studying” when we were in college.

Back then, it was located in downtown Franklin. But later, it moved to an out lot near the Kroger store on U.S. 31. Dad and I used to go there to eat biscuits and gravy and drink coffee, because it was one of the few restaurants that served biscuits and gravy any time of day or night. The Hoosier Kitchen truck stop didn’t start serving it until 11:00 PM.

When we drove out of state on vacations, we would often spot Waffle House restaurants and would stop by for lunch or dinner. But it wasn’t our Waffle House. It was the one that was called Waffle & Steak in Indiana. It was a bit confusing.

I learned that the Indiana version of Waffle House was based in Indianapolis and had most of its restaurants here in this state. A few were located in Ohio, but since that other Waffle House had the naming rights in that state, our Waffle House had to be called the Waffle Iron in Ohio.

And since the Indianapolis-based restaurant chain had the Waffle House naming rights in Indiana, the other Waffle House with the yellow sign had to call itself Waffle & Steak here. Confused yet?

Well, the confusion is all but over. The little Waffle House with the yellow sign now has naming rights all over the place, including Indiana. That’s because the Indianapolis-based Waffle House sold the naming rights to the other chain and changed its own restaurants to Sunshine Café. SunQuest is the company that franchises Sunshine Cafes in Indiana.

In Indianapolis, there is only one remaining Waffle House. It is located on West Washington Street. I eat there frequently. It has good home-style food at reasonable prices. And, yes, it serves biscuits and gravy in the afternoon.

I have nothing against the other Waffle Houses, the ones with the yellow signs. I’ve eaten there and their food is good. But they’re a bit cramped, especially for a big guy. And they have no nostalgia value for me.

Thankfully, though, the owner of the old Waffle House on Washington Street has no plans to change his restaurant’s name or close it down soon. He made an agreement with the yellow-signed Waffle House that allowed him to keep the name.

He’s been in business at that location for decades and he plans to stay. He said he had the opportunity to change the name of his restaurant to Sunshine Café, but he wondered why he would want to do that. If he were going to change the name, he would just call it Kurt’s Place.

There are lots of restaurants around these days, and I think I’ve eaten at most of them. Some have fancy dishes with high prices. They have a nice atmosphere with cloth napkins and tablecloths.

And, though some of them serve quite decent food, I have found that I still prefer the meals I get at Waffle House. There’s nothing fancy about it, but the price is right. And it’s one of only a few remaining establishments that I can link back to my days in college, and remember with fondness.

1 comment:

John W. McMullen said...

Loved the old Waffle Houses of Indiana. Cultural icon of the 1960s and 70s. I would love to have a few photos of the old sign with the man carrying waffles on a plate.

I worked at the Waffle House in Vincennes, Indiana, from 1980-87.