The Federal Emergency Management Agency coined the term “Waffle House Index” to measure the effect of a natural disaster on an area. If a Waffle House shuts down or limits its menu after such hazards, federal officials conclude the community took a major hit.
“The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a strong recovery for that community.”
“They are open most of the time. And that was the index. If a Waffle House is closed because there’s a disaster, it’s bad. We call it red. If they’re open but have a limited menu, that’s yellow,” he said. “If they’re green, we’re good, keep going. You haven’t found the bad stuff yet.”
Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner said Fugate came up with the test during the 2004 hurricane season in Florida.
Waffle House is headquartered in Georgia, and has more than 2,000 restaurants, most of them in the South.