Hurricane Ian: Waffle House restaurants close as storm moves closer

Updated September 28 11:25 a.m. EDT

In a statement, Waffle House said 21 of its restaurants between Bradenton and Naples, Florida, were closed due to Hurricane Ian.

Original Story:

Waffle House is known for staying open despite extreme weather, but the threat of Hurricane Ian has forced the chain to shutter some of its locations in the storm’s path.

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In a statement Wednesday morning, Waffle House said it had closed at least 11 restaurants in areas where mandatory evacuations were issued or in low-lying areas where there has already been significant damage from the storm.

A meteorologist for WBBH shared a photo on Twitter showing a Waffle House closed and shuttered.

In a statement Wednesday, Waffle House said: “We continue to monitor the weather, local government orders and emergency management recommendations as we determine what needs to happen ahead of Ian’s landfall. The safety of our employees and their families remains a top concern, as does the safety of any potential customers. So, we have closed restaurants and will likely close more as Ian’s impact becomes more apparent, and in accordance with local government officials and emergency management recommendations.”

In 2004, then-Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said he used what he termed the “Waffle House Index” in Florida during the 2004 hurricane season, noting that Waffle Houses were among the last businesses to close and first to open in areas hit by storms.

The Waffle House Index has three indicators:

· Green index: Waffle House is open and offering a full menu.

· Yellow index: Waffle House is open and offering a limited menu.

· Red Index: Waffle House has been forced to close.

“The index itself isn’t just about whether or not you can get pralines on your waffles or if you can get waffles at all, but rather about the damage in a neighborhood,” FEMA communications specialist Jessica Stapf said in 2017.

Many of Waffle House’s restaurants are in the south, so the chain is no stranger to hurricanes.

“We actually have a storm playbook that every restaurant has,” Njeri Boss, vice president of public relations for Waffle House, told WTVT. “We revise it each year as needed. And it tells the management team what to do in the event of an emergency.”