(NEXSTAR) – The very first Waffle House didn’t have smothered or covered hash browns on its original menu, but at least you could get a ritzy steakhouse-style dinner for well under two bucks.
In 1955, Waffle House founders Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner opened their first restaurant in Avondale Estates, Georgia, with the goal of providing customers with “quality food at a great value,” according to Waffle House’s own account. To that end, the original menu offered a variety of all-day dishes at the same (similarly) reasonable prices as today’s Waffle House restaurants.
An order of eggs with toast, for instance, was just 45 cents, or around five bucks in today’s money. And waffles — the “highest profit item” on the original menu, according to Forkner — started at just 40 cents, or the equivalent of about $4.50 in 2023.
In fact, everything on the 1955 menu could be purchased for $21.85 — and that included a whole “take-home” pie for $1.25.
The single most expensive dish, though, was the filet mignon dinner, which sold for the relatively astronomical price of $1.50. The meal came with salad, a toasted bun and “Waffle House”-style shredded and griddled potatoes.
Of course, Waffle House still offers other cuts of steak (a sirloin and a T-bone), and at similar prices when adjusted for inflation. But today’s customers would be hard-pressed to find filet mignon — a portion of the tenderloin often regarded as the most tender — outside of pricier restaurants and high-end steakhouses. (A T-bone steak contains a different portion of the tenderloin.)
Aside from the filet, other long-gone items from the 1955 menu include cereal with cream (30 cents); a pear salad with cheese (35 cents); a variety of soups, including cream of tomato and chicken noodle (30 cents apiece); and a ham and cheese sandwich on wheat, which appears to have been pressed in the restaurant’s waffle iron.
Most of the other items — sandwiches, waffles, eggs, potatoes — can still be found on today’s Waffle House menus.
“We serve the basic foods, and the basic foods never change,” Rogers told the Associated Press in 2005.