People are freaking out after Waffle House closes hundreds of restaurants

Waffle House, an iconic American breakfast food chain known to remain open in the bleakest of times, will be closing 365 locations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 1,627 locations will remain open, the company said in a statement.

The closing of Waffle House locations is not taken lightly. Waffle House has been notorious in remaining open for business 24-hours a day and 365 days a year — even amid natural disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) even relied on the informal Waffle House Index to track how much an area was affected by a disaster, including hurricanes.

“If a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green,” EHS Today said in an article published in 2011. “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.”

In a Facebook picture with the caption “#WaffleHouseIndexRed,” the company showed a map with the locations of closed restaurants:

Screen Shot 2020 03 24 at 8.10.56 PM

The Waffle House index in red.
Waffle House

“If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?” former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said in a previous Wall Street Journal report. “That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

At least 728 people in the US have died from the new coronavirus as of Tuesday. Roughly 54,000 cases have been reported in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and US territories. Nonessential businesses have been ordered to close; however, several restaurants remained open for take-out and delivery orders.

People on Twitter sounded the alarm to the Waffle Houses that were closed in multiple states.

—Dr./Prof. Sarah Hörst (@PlanetDr) March 25, 2020

—Angelo Dawkins (@AngeloDawkins) March 25, 2020

—Maryn McKenna (@marynmck) March 25, 2020

—Tate (@tatefrazier) March 25, 2020

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