So, as I promised Michael Hoffman in a thread some time ago - I gave Waffle House yet another try - hoping my bad experiences were simply those NC and VA older locations (notwithstanding the fact that Richmond area Waffle Houses were notoriously dingy).
So, it was Christmas Day and WH was the only place open and we needed lunch on the road.
So, here goes:
Waffle House: Clark's Summit, PA
Place was busy, but not over crowded (as I heard they usually were on Christmas) - about 1/2 full when we arrived at 11:35am. However, I heard the waitress talking to a customer about past years, when there was a line out the door all day. She suspected the threat of ice had kept locals home. I found the place to be filled with a balance of travelers and locals. One such travelling group sat at the booth directly behind me and exclaimed, "this is where was sat last year."
So, anyway, let me back up: I walk in with wife and baby in toe. A very pleasant woman behind the counter says "sit anywhere you'd like honey", so we got a booth. I grabbed a high chair, and had to knock off food from it.
We sat down at the table. Our menu-placemats were already there - greasy to the touch, and even a sticky spot on mine. I grabbed a napkin to clean them both.
Table had been wiped, obviously, but it was still a little slick. So I cleaned the table too.
Waitress got drink orders and came back with drinks and took our order. Super friendly - and, because I wasn't about to put my son's food on the table, I asked if they had any non-china plates for my son's use, which she gave us a to-go plate which was perfect.
Now, I know WH has their specialties, but I already has b'fast at 8am, so I got their BLT and regular salad, wife got grilled chicken breast on a salad. Both of us got ranch dressing.
Before the food arrive, the waitress gave us our silverware. Her hands were all over the silverware, not just the part where you handle, but the tines and all. The same hands which she was taking money from customers at the cash register. Did she wash them between? I dunno.
But considering the condition of our placemats, table and high chair, I wasn't sure. On top of that, the floor was not clean. Yes there has been ice earlier in the morning, so yes people may had trampled in wet, salt laden shoes. However, when we arrived for lunch, the ice was over and our shoes weren't completely filthy. Never the less, it has clearly not been recently mopped.
My wife's chicken breast was fine. Our salads were mostly iceberg lettuce, but fresh and crispy lettuce. I even commented to my wife that I appreciated that they used radishes. I've found that radishes are not as common as they used to be, in salads.
My BLT was dry as a bone on first bite. Then I saw the packet of mayo tucked underneath the other half of the sandwich. I don't know how that was possible - but it's true. I would've assumed the packet was added after my sandwhich was plated. Maybe it slid, I don't know the reason why, though. I put a little ketchup on it instead. It helped tremendously. They used nice thick cut bacon. Again, a plus. Tomato, like the lettuce, was also fresh and had a nice bite to it.
In addition to some food we brought in for our 16 month son, we also got him a grilled cheese sandwhich, which he enjoyed (well half of it - we saved the other half, and he enjoyed that later).
The food came out pretty fast. Service was super friendly. On that end, WH passed. Food wasn't spectacular but fine and I realize we didn't get any of their specialty food items.
The bathrooms were cold in temperature, and not as well "wiped down" as the rest of the restaurant. The slightly rusted wheelchair/handicap bars looked like they were ignored during their wipe down process. I also get really pissed when a restaurant doesn't have a baby changing station in any bathroom - forcing you to use the dirty floor. Yes, we have our own mat - which we use to cover baby changing stations. But a non-mom and pop place, that does have high chairs and booster seats, should also have baby changing stations.
Suffice to say, thanks to incredibly friendly service (except they never offered us a high chair, I had to look around for it - and it was clear I was looking for something, and no one said a word) it wasn't a horrible experience. But again, the overall cleanliness of the place, the waitresses handling money then my silverware, the less than pleasant bathroom, I again find myself wondering at the allure of Waffle House.
Again, this was not one of those new shiney Waffle Houses - and IMO, I think this one needs a facelift on the inside, but for crying out loud, they can make sure that when I pick up my menu-placemat (because it's two sided, I have to touch it) it isn't sticky in some spots and slick (greasy) in other spots. Use some soap or safe cleaning product when wiping the tables down.
The price for our meals came to $12 and change - I left a $5 tip simply because the place was open and these people were serving me with a smile on Christmas Day (which I came to understand, is a WH tradition since 1955).
I'm still waiting to find one of these clean restaurants the WH faithful keep talking about.
I really wish I had pictures.