Waffle House closing 365 restaurants across the country due to COVID-19 concerns

NORCROSS, GA -- Another sign the coronavirus pandemic has sweeping ramifications: Waffle House is at index red.

The diner that specializes in breakfast comfort food is usually there for customers along interstates and high-traffic areas. During emergency weather situations, Waffle House is usually a safe bet to be open.

However, the chain is closing 365 restaurants amid the COVID-19 crisis. The restaurant said 1,627 locations are still open, but it's still a measure of how serious the virus is. The locations on Highway 54 and Roxboro St. in Durham are closed as is the location near N.C. State University on Avent Ferry Road.

RELATED | Hurricane or not, Waffle House is eager to serve

When areas are on the verge of a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, FEMA looks to Waffle House to see how the community is faring.

"Waffle House has a very simple operational philosophy: get open. They never close. They run 24 hours a day," then-FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the New York Times in 2012. "They have a corporate philosophy that if there is a hurricane or a storm, they try and get their stores open. It don't matter if they don't have power, it don't matter if you don't have gas. They have procedures that if they can get a generator in there, they'll get going. They'll make coffee with bottled water."

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Carolinas last year, ABC11 investigative reporter Diane Wilson was in Wilmington, noting that just about every store and restaurant in town was closed.

But each Waffle House was open.

A Facebook Post with a map of open and closed locations has more than 5,000 shares on Wednesday morning.

On March 15, Waffle House posted that they were "taking additional steps to provide safe food and service, like sanitizing all service items and tables along with touchscreens and door handles.

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