Chef's Table - The Houses that Waffles Built

Shelby White, 30, once was in water marketing. Now she markets waffles. For five-and-a-half years, she's been one of two Waffle House field marketing specialists. White was born in Memphis, deep Waffle House territory, but grew up in Southern California.

Creative Loafing: What are your job duties?

White: I am responsible for new product development, for new concepts (note: That's Waffle-speak for menu items).

So what made it to the menu under your watch?

The menu hasn't changed much over the years. But the wraps are mine. Before that, it was the cheesesteak sandwich in the late 1990s. Right now we are testing chocolate chip waffles - I'm really excited about that.

Are we gonna see healthier items like salads or tofu on the menu?

We are a privately held company so we have a lot of flexibility in what we do and don't do. We don't follow trends.

What is your favorite meal at WH?

It's a toss-up as to what I'm in the mood for ... but I like the All-Star Special breakfast: two eggs, toast and jelly, waffle, grits, sausage patties. It's a lot of food, that savory and sweet thing. And the Southern Classic Pork Chop dinner with Texas toast and hash browns.

How many WHs are there? It seems like they are every mile in Atlanta.

There are 1,500 in 25 states. This is headquarters. We have over 200 in the Atlanta market. We only have 41 seats in each restaurant, so in some high-traffic areas we can have two within a mile of each other. And on the interstate, we get you coming and going.

You're also president of Waffle House Records. You're a music impresario!

It's the songs on our jukebox - they're all original, all about Waffle House. We've been doing songs for 21 years. Each year we try to add on a new song. This year it's our 50th anniversary song, and the B-side is bluegrass.


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