Waffle House Employees Communicate With Condiments

Supporting a opinion formed early in life that restaurant employees were some sort of special breed of genius, here is the Waffle House condiment code cheat sheet. Yes, your order is communicated via a code based on the arrangement of little packets of condiments on an empty plate. Everyone who has ever worked at a Waffle House is smarter than us. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: nickgray) [Via BoingBoing]


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  1. B says:

    Really? The 45-year old chain-smoking asthmatic is smarter than me? I feel ashamed.

  2. gardencat says:

    LOL One wrong flip of a condiment packet and the whole order is completley screwed up.

  3. So this is easier than writing the order on a piece of paper and giving that to the cooks?? I don’t get it…

  4. nakmario says:

    smarter… why?

    because they dont know how to write???

    oh well, i guess if order accuracy is higher than in most other places I should give them credit.

  5. d0x says:

    Yea I would imagine writing the order down would be quicker and easier then doing this..I mean dont they write it when you tell them what you want?

    Why spend extra time arranging condiments on a plate?


    I know a guy named Curtis who works in food places such as these, hes insane..and im not kidding. He might need to use a system like this because sometimes words anger him…but then again they only let him wash dishs.

    On a side note does anyone know someone named Curtis that isnt crazy? I know (knew) two and both were bonkers.

  6. raybury says:

    Wait, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a Waffle House where they have all the condiments available. Plus, service is pretty iffy around shift change. Like 4 hours before and 4 after.

  7. acambras says:

    Yeah, this might make sense for people who couldn’t read or speak English, but then they wouldn’t be able to read the “cheat sheet” above, would they?

  8. WindowSeat says:

    Are the cooks illiterate? Also, who orders steak at a Porterhouse at a Waffle House?

  9. c26nyc says:

    So if I want a sausage sandwich, the cook puts his pickles on the right?

  10. Lyn Never says:

    Also, WH servers make a big deal of standing in the magic spot (there’s often a different colored brick or tile on the floor) and shouting the order to the cook, who is approximately 18″ away and, one assumes, mostly deaf in that ear. I have never seen any such condiment layout shenanigans in a long history of late nights at the House.

  11. BwaHaHa says:

    Maybe that’s how they know whats on the plate when they give it to you?

    I’m still fascinated by those girls at Friday’s that can take the orders from a table of 10 without writing anything down. Maybe they are secretly turning all those buttons they wear in different directions and then taking off their uniforms and handing them to the cooks.

  12. Lulu at How I Save Money says:

    I (unfortunately) used to work at a WH (as a manager) and thought the system was silly also. I can’t begin to tell you the times someone put a ketchup pack instead of a mustard pack to mark an order…or the plate got turned around during rush hour…and the orders got royally mixed up. I just thank the lord I am no longer a part of that. I guess they keep it to make them unique…but it is not cost effective (or realistic) as far as I can see.

  13. formergr says:

    It makes no sense, if the plate was shifted to carry it over to the cook, then the condiments would slide over and ruin the “code”. I call BS on this.

  14. akersmc says:

    Am I the only one who read this as “White House Employees Communicate With Condiments”?

  15. Re: “I’m still fascinated by those girls at Friday’s that can take the orders from a table of 10 without writing anything down.”

    If all you do for 8+ hours a day is take orders, your brain re-wires itself. When I was a teenage burger-assembler at Wendy’s, I could keep a running queue in my brain of 10 orders or so coming in from the front register in the left ear and from the drive-thru headset in the right ear. I’m pretty sure I could still make any given Wendy’s sandwich from memory, down to the exact number of pickle slices.

  16. squidhat says:

    Which condiment means “Customer requests a short and curly in his hash?”

  17. jeffrayc says:

    Having worked in the restaurant business for ten years, I know not why they don’t just write the stuff down. Having a written record saved my a$$ countless times.

    As for the geniuses who refuse to take copious notes when at my table taking my order, please just stop showing off and write it down! I’ve yet to see a server with the gift of “memory” come back with the order right. Even the baristas at Starbucks make an effort to scribble some code on your cup of fancy joe!

  18. Baz L says:

    Waffle House (according to their company motto) prides themselves on “performance”. Apparently people enjoy it when the cooks flip eggs and pancakes in front of them.

    I really could care less.

  19. micturatedupon says:

    as a server myself, i can do a table of 5 w/o taking notes, provided there are no ridiculous substitutions, like the one i got today:

    “yeah, i want a pancake breakfast – but with two of the pancakes now, and the other two later, when my friend here is finshed with her eggs benedict – which she takes with scrambled eggs instead of poached, no hollandaise sauce, and the english muffin tosted well, not grilled.”

    yep, damn near verbatim.

  20. dohtem says:

    God help them when there is a small earthquake that rattles the condiments!!

    @BwaHaHa: I know exactly what you mean. I was part of a party of 7 very picky eaters that had special requests on everything they ordered. And our waitress didn’t write anything down. The only thing she messed up was one person’s choice of soda on a refill. We were so impressed we tipped her generously.

  21. NeonCat says:

    In a Waffle House the cook stands in front of the grill and stove top. Plates are arranged to the cook’s left. The condiment code serves to indicate which plate gets what entrée. It is not perfect, I’m sure, but it probably does help when they are slammed, when the staff is tired from being on their feet for hours at a time. And yes, some Waffle House employees probably aren’t the most educated people in the world; does that mean they shouldn’t be able to hold down a job, or try to do good work?

    Say what you want about the Awful Waffle, they are ALWAYS open, 24/7/365. If you have to get away from the family on Christmas, the griddle is hot and the iced tea is sweet.

  22. VeryFancyBunny says:

    @NeonCat: Very much agreed! Watching the Waffle House cooks work their magic on a weekend morning is positively hypnotizing. All of the Awful Waffles around me (I live in Atlanta, WH’s HQs, so there are many) are slammed for hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The cooks and servers don’t have a second of down time, and yet I’ve NEVER had an order made incorrectly.

  23. B says:

    I thought people only eat at Waffle House when they are drunk and/or stoned. So it doesn’t matter how or what the customer is served, they won’t remember what they ordered anyways.

  24. rrrebo says:

    Most of the Vafflehausen I’ve ever been in had some scrawny old guy who’d been there 20 years taking dozens of orders shouted out by the waitresses, cooking every single one of them perfectly, and making it look like magic. Having done both the cooking and the serving at a few different restaurants, I will always have respect and a soft spot for those who Scatter, Smother, Cover and Chunk.

  25. alicetheowl says:

    Why don’t they write it down? As someone who had to enter some 500 handwritten entries into a company mailing list a couple of weeks ago: handwriting isn’t always the easiest to decipher.