Waffle House co-founder dies at 97

(Photo: WKRN)

ATLANTA (AP) — 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, has died. He was 97.

Georgia-based Waffle House said Rogers died Friday. No cause was given.

Rogers, born in Jackson, Tennessee, grilled 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, Georgia, in 1955. Company officials say that under their leadership, the Waffle House chain grew to 400 restaurants by the end of the 1970s.

A memorial service is planned for Wednesday in Atlanta.