Usually always open, Waffle House closes 418 locations; tri-county chains remain open for ‘to-go’ orders


A national restaurant chain that usually never closes temporarily shut 418 locations as of Tuesday due to the coronavirus, but four in the greater-Sumter region were still open Wednesday for takeout.

Waffle House District Manager Tyler Cappelmann spoke Wednesday from the popular breakfast joint at 1350 Broad St. in Sumter across the street from Walmart.

“We’re open and running,” Cappelmann said.

But it’s “to-go’s only,” he said, referencing people can call in or come in and order and have takeout prepared. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all restaurants and bars in South Carolina close their in-house dining on Wednesday, March 18, providing options only for take-out, curbside service to-go or delivery. On Saturday, McMaster issued an executive order allowing the sale of beer and wine to go if the alcohol is sold in sealed containers that is not consumed on-site.

Cappelmann said both Sumter Waffle Houses on Broad remain open for takeout, as does the Manning location. A call to the Waffle House in Bishopville, and an employee said likewise.

According to a search on Waffle House's website, the locations in Camden and Lugoff also remain open.

In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the chain, which has locations in about 25 states and is a fixture in the South, initially announced on Tuesday 365 of its nearly 2,000 eateries — close to 20% — were closed for business on its Facebook page. On Wednesday, the chain announced it had closed 418 locations.

The Georgia-based chain’s 1,992 restaurants are usually open 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Waffle House is generally known for its disaster preparedness and ability to stay open during most weather events, such as hurricanes. Media has even used a "Waffle House Index" to determine the seriousness of an inclement weather situation based on the level of operation of the area's Waffle Houses.

The company didn’t say when the closed locations will reopen.