A Waffle House Is Only As Good As Its Weakest Chef

The Relationship You Have With Your Waffle House Cooks Will Make Or Break Your Experience

A Waffle House is only as good as its weakest chef.

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If you're anything like me (or know anything about me), you absolutely love Waffle House! It is the one stop shop for all your hunger, entertainment and recovery needs. There is nothing like going to a Waffle House at 2 a.m. to cap off a night of dancing and drinking. The whole menu is available throughout the day, so if you want breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast go right ahead (this is for the indecisive and the people who order an "uhhh" with water).

But Waffle House, despite the convenience of its locations, is only as great as the cooks on the grill will let it be.

I witnessed one of the greatest chef moments in history the last time I went to Waffle House, and the chef was none other than my good friend nicknamed Shooter.

Shooter has been working as a chef at the Waffle House on University Boulevard on the campus of the University of Alabama for the last three or four years. During this time, Shooter has seen one customer after a drunk customer comes through the doors and leave. He has his share of experiences, but most notable to him was when he had to run the restaurant by himself during an unexpected afternoon lunch rush. My experience with Shooter has always been pleasant and I even refer to him as the GOAT of cooking. But on this particular visit, he really showed that he was the real deal.

It was a regular Sunday slump day and just like any other human being, I decided that I would go to Waffle House for lunch. I walked in and immediately noticed Shooter, the nickname was given to him due to the fact that he wears a shooter sleeve with his uniform. He asked me what I wanted before my order was taken or put in and began to cook. During this time an old man came stumbling in and walked directly to the bathroom. Shooter acknowledged the man, as did he to Shooter, and proceeded to put more food on the grill. When the old man came out of the restroom he sat down at his table and was given his menu.

Shooter called out to the man, "What you getting?"

The old man replied, "A large hash browns with gravy please."

Shooter said, "Look at the grill."

A large hash brown with gravy was sitting on the grill waiting to be flipped and plated for the old man. I was left in shock and awe. This old man may have been a regular to Shooter, but it goes to show you the importance of having a relationship with the cooks at your Waffle House.

A Waffle House is only as good as its weakest chef.

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Mixology Is The Alcoholic Art Form We All Need

What if, instead of viewing your cocktail as a drink to get your buzz going, you viewed it as a purposefully orchestrated creation?

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You walk into the new bar that everyone is raving about, but nothing seems to strike you as impressive until you take a seat at the garnish speckled countertop. Before you get a chance to scan the happy hour menu, the well-dressed man on the other side of the bar asks you what flavor profile you're looking for. You stutter out an answer, and the man retrieves what seems like 15 different ingredients and begins to measure, shake, stir and pour at an impressive speed.

He produced the best drink you've ever had. You're hooked.

Adding fire to cocktails helps improve the flavor and presentation of the drink. Photo by Amanda Marvin

The skill of crafting alcoholic drinks that was formerly known as bartending is taking on a new form known as mixology among the contemporary bar scene. Mixology is known as "the study of the chemistry of drinks," and the tastes of the new creations are noticeably different from typical drink recipes.

Self-taught Mixologist Tyler Zhorne began his crafting career as a brewer which enabled him to find greater success in the art of experimenting with different flavor profiles. Zhorne says that making drinks is more than just a job that he loves.

"It's kind of another way for you to put your own personality out there. I'm more of an introvert, but my cocktails will help someone understand who I am," Zhorne explains.

Similar to an artist carefully painting their next piece, mixologists use techniques of imagination and innovation to craft a concoction that wows their customers almost every time.

A cocktail smoking box is being used to create another touch of flavor. Photo by Amanda Marvin

In Arizona, bars like Bitter & Twisted located in Downtown Phoenix, The White Rabbit in Gilbert, and The Ostrich in Chandler are changing the original method of bartending by encouraging crafters to create their own reimagined variations of commonly known cocktails.

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