- Waffle House began announcing stores temporarily closing around the country on Monday due to the COVID-19 outbreak
- On Tuesday Waffle House announced they had closed more stores for the second day in a row
- W. Craig Fugate created the Waffle House Index which uses the restaurants as an unofficial way to judge the impact of a disaster in a community
For years, Waffle House has been used as an unofficial indicator of how bad a community has been impacted by a crisis. The “Waffel House Index” has been used for years in disasters and crisis areas around the country. As Waffle House closes stores around the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Waffle House Index is falling to red.
So how reliable is the Waffle House Index? In 2012 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released an article titled “What do Waffle Houses Have to Do with Risk Management?” The article explains that major companies such as The Home Depot, Walmart, and Waffle House “serve as role models in disaster preparedness.” These major companies have excellent risk management plans to guarantee their stores are open and operating during a disaster to provide basic supplies to their communities.
An explanation of the Waffle House Index reads as follows:
For example, if a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow. When the location has been forced to close, the index is red. Because Waffle House is well prepared for disasters. it’s rare for the index to hit red. For example, the Joplin, Mo., Waffle House survived the tornado and remained open.Panos Kouvelis, Ph.D Via EHS Today
The Waffle House Index was founded by W. Craig Fugate, one of the world’s leading experts in emergency and crisis management. Craig served as FEMA administrator from May 2008 to January 2017 and worked through over 500 presidentially declared major disasters and emergencies. The Waffle House Index was created to help predict the effects of an incoming storm and the potential level of assistance required during disaster recovery.
In regards to the Waffle House Index, Panos Kouvelis, Ph.D., the Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management and director of the Olin’s Boeing Center for Technology, Information and Manufacturing, told EHS Today, “They know immediately which stores are going to be affected and they call their employees to know who can show up and who cannot.” Kouvelis went on to say, “They have temporary warehouses where they can store food and most importantly, they know they can operate without a full menu. This is a great example of a company that has learned from the past and developed an excellent emergency plan.”
According to Craig, the Waffle House Index not only gives insight into how quickly a business might rebound but it also gives insight on how the community as a whole is fairing. That is why Waffle House’s announcement of closing over 400 stores around the country made some nervous. On Monday, Waffle House announced via Facebook they closed 365 stores around the country. 1,627 stores remained open.
On Wednesday, Waffle House announced another 418 restaurants closing, bringing the number down to 1,574 stores left open. The caption with the new Waffle House map read, “#WaffleHouseIndexRed: 418 Waffle House restaurants closed. 1,574 open. Call your local Waffle House today for a carry-out order. Visit locations.wafflehouse.com for specific restaurant details.”