Yesterday I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook and a particular story struck me. The headline read: “Naked Man Described As ‘Built Like A Potato’ Arrested For Stroking, Pressing His Penis Against Waffle House Glass Door.” I was none too surprised to hear that the incident occurred at a Waffle House restaurant.
The Waffle House – a place that’s been affectionately referred to in the past as “the Florida man of restaurant chains” – is a compelling place, for those of you not familiar with the diner chain. It’s perhaps one of the few places in the world where you can come in for an All Star Special and leave with a new appreciation for the human body. I’m not certain what specifically draws these characters to the Waffle House out of all of the 24-hour chain diners, but for just for fun I thought we could take a moment to reflect upon some of the more notable incidents occurring at the restaurant chain within the past few years.
- In February of 2016 a Georgia Waffle House waitress was arrested and charged with spiking her co-worker’s drink with methamphetamine. The drug resulted in the man falling into a coma and he was transported to an area hospital. The woman was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and aggravated battery.
- Again in February of 2016, a Wilmington, North Carolina man was arrested following a Waffle House bomb hoax. The package the man left there was found to be filled with trash and metal. Michael Leonard was charged with communicating threats, hoax by false bomb or other device and making a false bomb report.
- In Grand Bay, Alabama, a tip from a Waffle House waitress resulted in a child pornography bust. A patron had left their cellphone behind and in the waitresses attempt to track down its rightful owner, she uncovered nude photos of an underage girl. Investigators say there were over a dozen photos of the same 14-year-old girl on the man’s phone. The man is currently awaiting trial.
- In October of 2015, two Huber Heights, Ohio men attempted to rob a Waffle House. The men walked into the restaurant and pointed a gun at the cashier, but fled without the cash. Instead the attempted robbers only made off with a menu.
- On June 2, 2016, a Jacksonville, Florida firefighter was arrested for having sex with a minor in a Waffle House parking lot. The girl reported the incident to the police and when the man agreed to meet with her again, the police were there waiting to arrest him. Charges are still pending against the firefighter.
- In Mississippi a man shot a Waffle House waitress after she had asked him not to smoke in the restaurant. The man had been sitting at the counter smoking an e-cigarette, when waitress Julie Brightwell told the man he was not allowed to smoke it inside. The man pulled out a 9mm from his waistband and shot the woman in the head. He walked out of the restaurant, placed the gun on top of his pickup truck, then went back inside to use the restroom. When he returned police were waiting to arrest him. His arraignment is set for this month.
- In 2015, officers were called to a Christmas Day dispute between a waitress and a cook at an Athens, Georgia Waffle House. The cook told police that the waitress had been screaming outside. When he went out to confront the woman, she lunged at him. The cook was forced to put the woman in a headlock. Neither party wanted to press criminal charges in the matter.
- A London, Kentucky couple was placed under arrest after strolling into their local Waffle House intoxicated and in the company of three small children. The father, William Allen, had fallen asleep multiple times with eating utensils in his hands. Officers say when they spoke with Allen his speech was reported to have been slurred and he explained to officers that he had a prescription for Suboxone, a heroin replacement treatment. Both Allen and his girlfriend were placed under arrest for public intoxication and wanton endangerment. Allen was also charged for carrying two handguns without a concealed carry license.
- A Paducah, Kentucky man was arrested after firing a gun in the Waffle House bathroom. The man explained that he had been drinking prior to going to the restaurant. As he was using the restroom the gun accidentally discharged, firing through a wall. Four other patrons were in the restaurant during the incident, but thankfully no one was hurt. He was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, as well as additional charges stemming from drugs found on him at the time of his arrest.
- A South Carolina man was arrested after throwing plates in a Waffle House and refusing to pay for his meal. The incident started after staff asked the man if everything was alright after he had yelled at a child at an adjacent table. The man flew into a rage, screaming at restaurant employees and flinging food and plates around the restaurant from the kitchen area. The man then stormed out, leaving behind his $17 tab. The man was later found heavily intoxicated at an area hotel and arrested for property damage and defrauding a restaurant. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
Even celebrities are not impervious to the violent and bizarre behavior the restaurant chain seems to inspire.
- On April 28, 2016 comedian Katt Williams was charged with throwing a salt shaker at an Atlanta Waffle House manager. It is unclear what provoked the incident, but Williams is now facing battery charges.
- In 2007, Detroit musician Kid Rock was arrested after he became involved in a brawl in the parking lot of a Georgia Waffle House. The artist only received misdemeanor charges related to the incident.
- On May 17, 2016, rapper Juvenile was arrested after attacking a man at a South Carolina Waffle House. The man allegedly said “Juvenile here, here come all the hos now.” The comment is what was said to have provoked the rapper and his entourage to jump the man.
It’s not entirely clear why Waffle Houses appear to be a hotbed for strange criminal activity. Though similar incidents have occurred at Denny’s – another 24-hour chain diner — like this woman who became irate over their “All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes” rules, the sheer volume of incidents stemming from Waffle Houses across the country certainly makes you wonder what they hell they’re putting in those waffles.