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Waffle House and Carroll County: A Look Back on the History of a Georgia Classic

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The City Menus – Grady Ellis

Yesterday’s Food And Retail by Grady Ellis (Editorial)

Yesterday’s Food and Retail by Carrollton resident Grady Ellis is an editorial series brought to you by The City Menus, LLC. The following piece is unedited and in its original state. In no way does it reflect the views or opinions of The City Menus, LLC or its additional contributors.

We hope that you enjoy this series!

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In the past few weeks Huddle House, closed in Carrollton after an amazing forty-five year run, and I noticed a sense of nostalgia when the doors locked on April 28. People love the experience of a diner, with a bar, friendly waitresses and good cooks. It’s a throwback to another era.

Huddle House was once the ruler of 24-hour diners in Carrollton; but in the 1980s a chain that had been founded in 1955 by Joe Rogers, Sr. and Tom Forkner in Avondale Estates expanded to this area. Joe had worked for Toddle House, one of the early diners of the 20th century, where my Grandpa had worked as a cook in the 1940s. Tom had worked in real estate. Long story short, Joe had bought a house from Tom, and once they met, history began.

From 1955 forward Waffle House has grown wildly throughout the U.S.A. from its beginnings in Avondale Estates. In 1986 the first Waffle House opened in Bremen, Georgia, at the corner of U.S. 27 and Interstate 20; and in 1987 the next one appeared in Villa Rica, at I-20 and Highway 61. Huddle House reigned as the only twenty-four-hour restaurant in Carrollton until 1994, when the first of two Waffle Houses arrived in quick succession, one to serve each of the city’s main corridors at the time, as Carrollton was starting to boom. The Waffle House on Bankhead Highway appeared in 1994, followed in 1995 by the one that was built next door to Huddle House. That proximity always caught people’s attention whenever they traveled on U.S. 27.

In ten years Waffle House had already grown into four locations to serve our area; and as instilled by the founders, the staff showed dedication to customer service and quality food. Their focus on the people, which is still evident today, was one of the many reasons for the chain’s much-deserved success and the reason why it remains many people’s first choice when it comes to a good, quick meal and good service.

Along with most of you I have been through at least one of the many Waffle Houses in the county over the years; and I can personally say that at the one I go to often the service is outstanding. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a bad Waffle House, ever. It’s a mainstay with many, especially in the morning, evening, and late-night hours. I have to say, as I’ve been going to the Waffle House and Huddle House for many years, I admire many of the people who work behind the counter and appreciate all the hard work they do. Part of the charm of a Waffle House is the exceptional service by your server; theirs is not an easy job, to say the least. I’d like to give you a friendly reminder to leave a tip for your server when you’re leaving, as a dollar can go a long way.

I can honestly say from my years as a customer, I think our local Waffle House locations have mastered what the founders Joe and Tom prided themselves on: a dedication to customer service and quality food for a great value. Although the founders of Waffle House have passed away in the past year, they’ve left behind a legacy that I see thriving for many years to come. I know they are proud of their Carroll County Waffle Houses. Today there are four locations in Carrollton, a location in Temple, one in Bremen (original closed in the late 2000s), and three locations in Villa Rica, two of which are in Carroll County. The more things change in this world, after sixty-one years Waffle House still maintains all the qualities that makes it stand out and keep you coming back.

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I love retail history with an undying passion. Born and raised in West Georgia. I love to be with my family, and my sweet English Toy Terrier, Sadie. All my work I post is always in the loving memories of my Mom, Dad, and my Grandparents, and loved ones that inspired me to follow this rich history. And most of all, I want to give the glory to the Lord, for giving me the ability to write, and tell these stories for the future generations to come.