Waffle House Closes More Than 400 Locations Across The U.S., Alarming Economists

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The "Waffle House Index" is an informal measure that helps the emergency response industry gauge a disaster's severity.

Over the years, one of the most ubiquitous breakfast chains in the U.S. has become an informal measure for how well the economy is faring in a disaster-type situation, and according to The Washington Post, it’s currently telling economists and those in emergency response circles that things aren’t looking too good.

The “Waffle House Index,” as it is called, runs from green to red: “If the local Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, the index is green; open with a limited menu, it’s yellow; closed, it’s red.”

It is almost unheard of that the index hits red, The Post reported, but we are in atypical times and the index is pointing to a problem.

With more than 400 of the Waffle House’s 1,992 restaurants closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the index is blinking bright red and economists are alarmed.

Waffle House told the newspaper in a statement that sales are down 70 percent across the country, which The Post noted is due in no small part to “public-health orders forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people in some jurisdictions.”

The Waffle House Index is generally used to measure the effects of weather-related events, but the company said it is posting the information to help others see how the pandemic is affecting the restaurant industry.

Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency looks to Waffle House for an idea of how severely disasters are impacting areas of the country. “The chain is know for its ability to stay open during severe weather events. Supply chains are shored up. Workers are ready to go. Home Depot and Walmart have similar reputations,” The Post noted, making such stores ideal for taking a rough measure.

But this is not a weather event, and this time the impact is being felt all across the country.

Read the full report.


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