The Waffle House Jukebox

For reasons we'd rather not discuss here, it's 4 AM and you're driving to Ellijay. Cold rain turning to snow. And you're hungry. Everything's closed. Then you spot the familiar yellow sign. You know 'em. You love 'em. It's a Waffle House. Turn signal, brake lights.

Thanksgiving is just days away. But if you can't wait for turkey and all the fixin's, and you're craving some home cooking — good news! If you're presently in the Southeastern USA, there's a Waffle House or two at the next intersection. What time is it? It doesn't matter. Each and every location is open 24/7, 365 days. Hence the mystical belief: The front doors of Waffle Houses don't have locks.

Pocket change buys you waffles, ham and eggs, hash browns, bacon, grits, biscuits and gravy, T-bone steaks, syrup, butter. Lots of butter. Music. Music? Yes, as if the 3-star country cuisine isn't enough (those are lip-smacking Comfort Food stars, not upraised pinky Michelin stars), Waffle House also serves music. Yes, sometimes you can improve on perfection.

Waffle House aficionados know that the Waffle House Jukebox is, in fact, an actual jukebox. Not some new-fangled streaming jukebox up in the clouds somewhere. This is a real, live jukebox, right over there where that fine-looking waitress is taking a break. Go ahead — cancel me if you want. I don't care. She is a fine-looking woman. But I digress.

The best Waffle House jukeboxes play 45-rpm singles. Although, some of them play CDs. I don't much cotton to the CD ones. More important, Waffle House has its own record label – Waffle Records, of course. Hits include "Saturday Night At My Place" and everyone's favorite, "They're Cooking Up My Order." The recordings are made for use specifically in the jukeboxes and are generally not commercially available, although a CD of greatest hits has surfaced. The music? If you like waffles with extra syrup, extra butter, you'll love this music. How much will you love it? Even more than that Dodge Ram with the 6.7 Cummins that you stupidly sold for $1,000 and 50 cents. Note to self: never, ever, get that drunk again.

And I'm not the kind of person who preaches to you about heaven, then tells you you'll have to wait to get there. I'm ready to deliver you to Kingdom Come right now. Here is a video playing some delicious Waffle House Jukebox Favorites.

A relatively unrelated note: Waffle House has an extensive disaster management plan. The company maintains generators and pre-positions ice and food ahead of severe weather events. It also funds teams of recovery staff that can be brought in after a disaster so local staff can tend to their own families and homes. Waffle House's ability to remain open after a disaster is used by FEMA as a measure of emergency recovery known as the Waffle House Index. When the levee breaks, Waffle House is the real deal.

Windshield wipers aren't cutting it. Heater is on the fritz again. You need coffee. You pull into the Waffle House. Come for the waffles. Stay for the jukebox. Don't forget to tip your waitress, bigly. It's 4 AM. She deserves a lot more than your damn 50 cents.

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