Each year on Valentine’s Day, hundreds of Waffle House locations across the country bust out their crisp white tablecloths and heart-shaped decorations, ready to welcome the lucky lovebirds who reserved a table at the most romantic restaurants they could think of … or at least the most romantic restaurants that serve smothered, covered and chunked hash browns.
Sure, this may have seemed like an unusual date idea once upon a time, but celebrating Valentine's Day at Waffle House has become something of a quirky tradition for couples seeking a unique night out. And now, more than a decade on, that tradition is still going strong.
“It’s become very popular with a lot of the customers,” said Njeri Boss, the director of public relations for Waffle House. “And once you start something, the customers come to expect it. So we try to provide a special experience.”
The idea for Waffle House’s Valentine’s Day dinner service began in 2008, at a single location in John’s Creek, Ga. According to Boss, the manager of that restaurant noticed the same few customers were returning year after year on Feb. 14, and he took it upon himself to make the dining area “nice” for his most romantic regulars.
The first Valentine’s Day dinner service was such a success, Boss says, that the John’s Creek manager brought it up with the vice president of his region, and the idea spread like butter on a hot pecan waffle.
“And of course, with all traditions, they evolve,” Boss told Fox News.
Now, as of 2020, over 200 Waffle House locations across the South and Southeast have chosen to opt-in. Each location is also given the freedom to decorate however they wish — as long as white tablecloths are in the mix.
Boss explained that managers, too, are allowed to offer their own Valentine’s Day specials for the evening, for an added touch.
“Some [restaurants] even coordinate their uniforms, or do something different. Go upscale,” she says. “Every one is different … but the tablecloths remain the same.”
Walt Ehmer, the CEO of Waffle House, is also such a fan of the idea that he once called it a “bucket-list experience.”
"A perfect Valentine's dinner consists of soft music, great food and a welcoming atmosphere," said Ehmer in 2018. "And we have all three waiting for those who are ready."
As of 2020, over 200 Waffle House locations were accepting reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner service. Visit WaffleHouse.com for a complete list of participating restaurants.