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The MacGyver-Like Genius of Waffle House’s ‘No Water’ Menu

No waffles, no hash browns — but there’s still coffee


A water main break in DeKalb County, Georgia, which is home to a portion of the city of Atlanta and multiple metro-Atlanta municipalities, left some residents and businesses without H2O and the entire county under a boil-water advisory Wednesday morning. Many restaurants are closing, but Waffle House, as it always does, is pressing on. The diner chain’s DeKalb locations are breaking out the chain’s rarely used “no water menu.”

The menu consists of just six entrees: a quarter-pound angus hamburger, grilled chicken sandwich, sausage sandwich, grilled ham sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, and sausage biscuit. Sausage and city ham are available as sides, and beverage service includes bottled and canned drinks. These dishes make a small fraction of the expansive list of items found at a Waffle House during regular operations.

Company spokesperson Pat Warner tells Eater roughly 20 locations have been affected by the break. The limited menu is streamlined to compensate for a shortage of clean water at Waffle House restaurants and an expected significant increase in business as other local dining options close up shop. Foods that require water for preparation, such as chili and grits, can be served if they were made before the advisory was issued. Water-boiling stations are deployed to keep hands and dishes clean.

Hot coffee is an essential Waffle House staple on par with the waffles and hash browns. When the no-water menu is on offer, availability varies by location. Those restaurants that are serving coffee use a brewing method that is common at specialty cafes, but isn’t typically thought of in the same context as a greasy spoon.

“If we boil the water, we can do a pour-over,” Warner says. “Our coffee machines are hooked up to the water, but you can switch them over to manual.”

Everything You Need to Know About Waffle House [E]
All Disaster Reports [E]