Opinion: The Fault in Our All-Star Specials: A case for an Oxford Waffle House

Posted on Aug 29 2018 - 5:50am by Jacob Gambrell

As most Ole Miss students do, I adore the quaint, little Southern town of Oxford, Mississippi. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in a one-sided relationship, as Oxford does not love me back. This unrequited love truly hurts, and I believe most Oxonians feel the same sting. You see, every other SEC college town has something that Oxford doesn’t (well, except for Texas A&M, but they’ve only had six years to assimilate to SEC culture). In fact, we are deprived of something present in 1,608 other towns and live in a second-rate college town without a Waffle House.  

Waffle House is a great Southern institution. In high school, my friends and I would meet at 6:45 a.m. every Friday morning to carb up before our football game on a double order of goldenly greasy hash browns, a beautiful pecan waffle and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with pickle.  After the football game, we would go back to the same Waffle House 16 hours later.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

A few years later, I ate at Waffle House with those same friends the morning of my wedding.  Before ACT tests, work shifts or church services to after concerts, movies or nights out on the town, Waffle House is where great days begin and better days end. It’s a transit zone — a temporal bus stop from one part of the day to the next, one stage of life to the next. When you walk through its glass doors, you enter a place where time stands still as you dine with patrons from all walks of life. It’s where you go in your highest of highs and your all-time lows. All are welcome at the table of the Waffle House. All are welcome — except Oxonians.

I don’t know who’s to blame — whether it’s our city government’s aversion to chain restaurants or if Waffle House doesn’t think we’re a viable market. No matter whose fault it is, this horrible travesty must go on no longer.

OPD’s Twitter account recently quote-tweeted support for a Waffle House food truck and got almost 2.4 thousand likes and 500 retweets.

The sports blog Red Cup Rebellion wrote a column last summer about the distress that could be solved if the chain came to Oxford. There is even a dedicated Twitter account called @wh4oxford that “fights for a dream that all college kids share,” which is having a Waffle House in Oxford. Since there is massive demand and zero supply, we must take matters into our own hands and tell Mayor Tannehill and CEO Walter G. Ehmer that we need a Waffle House.

At its worst, Waffle House is a “gas station bathroom that sells waffles,” according to stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan. However, according to Sean Brock and Anthony Bourdain, at its best it’s considered “an irony-free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.”  

Earlier I referred to it as a great Southern institution, but I believe that I was mistaken. Like sweet tea, bluegrass, the blues and college football, Waffle House is a Southern sacrament, and “smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country” is our liturgy.

Maybe someday at 2:53 a.m., our children will see those checkered yellow boxes illuminate the Oxford skyline like a lighthouse, guiding them to a safe harbor where time stands still but the waffle batter keeps flowing.

Jacob Gambrell is a senior international studies major from Chattanooga, Tennessee.