Waffle House restaurants are notorious for staying open no matter what. And one in South Carolina lived up to its reputation when it declined to shut its doors after a truck crashed through it early Thursday morning.
Police said 27-year-old Gregory Alexander Maxwell led officers on a high-speed chase around 2 a.m. Thursday, according to The State newspaper. Maxwell exited the highway and attempted to pull into a Waffle House parking lot but missed, crashing his truck into the side of the building instead, police said.
The crash left a gaping hole in the side of the Waffle House. Photos show dust and debris covering the restaurant’s floor.
But despite damage to the restaurant’s façade, the Waffle House, located near Columbia, South Carolina, remained open, according to local reports.
There were people inside the restaurant when the crash occurred who told WACH-TV they were grateful to have survived the incident. No injuries were reported.
Maxwell was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and failing to stop for police, according to The State.
The Georgia-based diner chain is renowned for its 24-hour, 365 days a year service. Aside from serving pancakes, the restaurant also provides an unofficial indicator of just how bad a storm will get for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad,” former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate has said.
Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner told Fox News in 2016 that while the chain does everything in its power to stay open, their “number one priority is the safety of our staff on the ground and our customers.”
“We’re a 24-hour restaurant, so oddly enough shutting down is a big deal for us,” Warner said. “When it comes to making the final decision, we let our operations team on the ground, like individual restaurant managers, make the final decision based on local conditions. But our job [as corporate officials] is to give them all the support they need to stay open.”