Waffle House co-founder Joseph Wilson Rogers Sr., who went from short-order cook to co-founder of one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains, died Friday at the age of 97.
Rogers, born in Jackson, Tennessee, served in World War II. After the war, he worked grilling burgers during the day at a Toddle House restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut. At night, he learned accounting and other aspects of the business from the manager and his wife.
After moving to Georgia, Rogers and Tom Forkner opened the first Waffle House restaurant in Avondale Estates in 1955. The Waffle House chain grew to 400 restaurants by the end of the 1970s. When he was not on the road opening Waffle House restaurants, Rogers spent time at the corporate office in Atlanta until a couple of years ago.