Co-founder of Waffle House, with Jackson roots, dies at 97.

March 7, 2017


Were you aware the co-founder of the Waffle House chain with over 2,000 locations in the U.S. was born and raised in Jackson, Tennessee?

Joe Rogers Sr. died Friday (3/3/17) at the age of 97. 

Rogers was born November 30, 1919 in Jackson. He and his family lived at 291 W. Deadrick Street. His father worked for the railroad and according to the book Rogers wrote in 2000 ("Who's Looking Out for the Poor Old Cash Customer?"), after their dad lost his job during the Great Depression, they had 'no car, no television, no radio, no telephone, no newspaper, and little money.' He insisted that the lessons he learned as a youngster, getting to know your neighbors, and your neighbors' neighbors, led to the hospitality he demanded at his Waffle House restaurants. As a young man, he worked for the Toddle House restaurants, owned by Fred Smith Sr...whose son decades later started Fed Ex.  Rogers would later combine the restaurant experience with his concern for super-serving customers into the Waffle House philosophy.

Rogers attended Jackson High School, later joining the Army, and ultimately landing in Atlanta where he met his business partner Tom Forkner. They opened their first Waffle House (so named because waffles were the highest profit margin items on the original menu) in Avondale Estates, Georgia in 1955.

It was many years later before their growing empire finally opened a location in Jackson in 1977, with a second location here in 1983 and a third in 1992. 

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