Waffle House reopens restaurants amid coronavirus to ‘orderly flow’ of returning customers, CEO says

Most people entering the restaurants are 'behaving themselves' and 'respecting each other's space,' CEO Walt Ehmer says

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Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer said Monday that business is steadily returning after the restaurant chain reopened some dining rooms in states that loosened coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

“We were very fortunate this past week to open up restaurants in Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of Tennessee,” Ehmer told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney. “It went about as well as we could have planned and hoped for.”

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Ehmer said business is on the rise now that some restaurants are open, even though Waffle House continues to operate under reduced capacity.

“Our normal business was down about 70 percent. So we had about 30 percent of our revenues in the stores that were just doing to go. That number probably got down to about half this past week. So we're still at a reduced capacity to where we normally are," he said. “But it was a very orderly flow of some additional people into our restaurants. So we were very pleased ... with the return of the customers.”

Waffle House restaurants are adhering to social distancing measures by removing every other table and bar stool at the counter, allowing people to sit at a comfortable distance, Ehmer said.

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Ehmer said he observed that most people coming into the restaurants are “behaving themselves” and practicing safety guidelines.

“They’re staying clear of one another and they're respecting each other's space,” he said.

Ehmer said Waffle House is turning to the government to advise on when’s best to reestablish normal seating in restaurants, in order to return to full capacity – a concern most industry professionals share.

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“What we're hoping for and what we're glad to see is we at least got to take a step in the direction of recovery,” he said. “And for that, we're happy."