Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer on Wednesday met with President Donald Trump and industry leaders at the White House to talk about the process of reopening restaurants after the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Restaurants have a unique opportunity to help lead us out of this and the reason for that is that we’ve been practicing safe food handling for years,” he said. “The safety of our guests has always been paramount.”
Waffle House restaurants, he said, were training their workforce for foodservice and sanitation while practicing social distancing.
Ehmer noted that Waffle House dining areas were opening up in Tennessee and Georgia, thanks to relaxed state rules for restaurants.
“It was very welcomed by our people, it was very welcomed by our customers,” he said. “Our customers are ready to see some sign of progress that we’re beginning to move forward.
Ehmer said that restaurants were the second-largest private employer in the country, and were deeply affected by the coronavirus and state-mandated shutdowns.
“Probably no other industry has been hit as hard from a revenue standpoint or a layoff and furlough standpoint,” he said.
Ehmer joked that he would have to have a discussion with the president and the White House about the trademark ownership of “WH,” noting that those letters were on his yellow tie.
“Ever since my daughter was young, every time she saw the WH on the TV screen she thought that that stood for Waffle House,” he said.
“This one was here first,” Trump joked with a grin.