Bob Bestler | Waffle House a bright beacon on a snowy day

February 21, 2014 

They laughed, I think, when I once wrote about my affection for Waffle House breakfasts.

I sounded like one of those “Tin Cup’’ groupies, but that’s OK. I’d follow Roy McAvoy anywhere.

Well, I’m back, and this time I have company, a little rag called The New York Times.

A Times story this week applauded the 1,700-store chain and cultural icon for its “winning spirit’’ during the snow that brought the rest of Atlanta to its knees.

“If you are familiar with Waffle House,’’ Cliff Oxford wrote, “you know that unusual things tend to happen there, whether it is a Waffle House wedding, Kid Rock getting into a fight or terrorists gathering to plot, but the organization stood tall in the snow.’’

Oxford, the founder of Atlanta-based Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs, says Waffle House offered lessons that all businesses might consider when the next snow or ice storm is in the forecast.

In the Atlanta storm, while other companies closed and told their employees to stay home, Waffle House determined that its stores would stay open, a decision that seemed to bring, wrote Oxford, “a sense of purpose that will do that company a lot of good for a long time to come.’’

With the storm on the way, Waffle House booked rooms at nearby hotels for their employees. Then, store managers coordinated with employees who had four-wheel drive vehicles to pick up employees.

Beamed one Waffle House waitress who was picked up: “There he came, right through the snow.’’

Most stores and offices, especially in this part of the country, close when there is even the threat of snow.

They do it to keep employees safe and it’s hard to disagree. Without ice removal equipment, anything more than a dusting can be disastrous.

But Oxford looks at staying open during bad weather as a cause for employee pride that is not always easy to come by. Those of us who trudged through monster snowfalls to get to work up north back in the day – in my case as a young newspaper carrier and then as a journalist – will know the good feeling that comes with conquering Mother Nature.

The same could be said for those Atlanta Waffle House employees.

“While Waffle House will remember that its little yellow light shone brightly in the snows of Atlanta,’’ Oxford wrote, “the rest of us will remember a lot of gloom, doom and boredom.’’

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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