Waffle House says it is closing 420 restaurants across the country.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, Waffle House said the vast majority of its locations would remain open.
According to a map included in Waffle House's tweet, many of the chain's northernmost locations will close. Most of the restaurant's locations in Ohio, northern Virginia and Maryland are among those that will be shut down.
Waffle House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The closures come as the Trump administration has urged Americans to avoid eating in restaurant dining rooms, encouraging them instead to order take-out or go through drive-thrus at least through the weekend.
FEMA has confirmed that they measure the severity of a disaster by how many Waffle Houses in an area remain open. Because the restaurants are open 24/7 and rarely close, a high number of Waffle House closures in an area can signal the area needs federal assistance.
Waffle House released the following statement:
Hour by hour, Waffle House’s reality is changing. We continue to adapt as different restrictions are imposed on how businesses can operate. This week, with stricter restrictions being implemented, our system sales have declined by about 70% below normal levels. So, we’ve made some painful decisions. Over this past week, 420 Waffle Houses across the country have temporarily closed. Some of those closures resulted from our consolidation of restaurant operations where it made sense to do so.
During significant weather events such as hurricanes, we have used a systematic approach of utilizing our available resources to help recovering communities get back to normal as quickly as possible. Out of that approach, a measuring criterion known as the Waffle House Index has been born. The Index typically has been used to gauge the level of impact to the communities affected by natural disasters or storms. Never has the Waffle House Index been used to track the effects of an event that was not weather-related, until now.
This week, we posted information on the number of Waffle House closures related to COVID-19. We referred to the Index as a way to help people understand how big of an impact this virus has had on the restaurant industry. The reference to “Code Red” also highlights the tremendous impacts that are being felt by many of our Associates and their families. With so few Customers visiting our restaurants, we are rapidly losing the ability to offer enough work hours for our Associates to earn money needed to live their lives and pay their bills. Hardest hit so far, are our restaurants in the Midwest and along parts of the Gulf Coast.
Waffle House is striving to keep as many stores open for as long as we can, in order to support as many Associates as possible. Currently, some 1,528 stores are open in various capacities. Out of those stores, 135 are open on limited shifts. Another 1,278 stores are operating a take-out-only business while another 250 stores are able to offer limited-capacity, dine-in service with social distancing protocols in place.
#WaffleHouseIndexRed: 365 Waffle House restaurants closed. 1,627 open. pic.twitter.com/DhPtcI0Byd
— Waffle House (@WaffleHouse) March 24, 2020