Joseph Wilson Rogers Sr., founder of the 24-hour Waffle House chain, died Friday. He was 97.
Cause of death was not immediately available.
“My father genuinely loved every customer who walked into a Waffle House, and customers immediately understood that,” said Rogers’ son, Joe Rogers Jr., chairman of Norcross, Ga.-based Waffle House Inc., said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“The customer always came first for him,” the younger Rogers said, “and he made sure the customer came first for everyone who worked with him.”
Rogers Sr., a Tennessee native, opened the first of his restaurant in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Ga., with partner Tom Forkner. The pair had met when Rogers bought a house from Forkner, who was in the real estate business.
Rogers and Forkner spent time at the corporate headquarters in Norcross even in their mid-80s, the newspaper said.
"I'm not an executive,” he told the AJC. “I'm a waffle cook.”
A memorial service is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. EST Wednesday Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, 800 Spring Street NW, in Atlanta.
For the fiscal year ended May 2016, Waffle House ranked No. 45 in the NRN Top 100 census with estimated sales of $1.2 billion, up from $1.1 billion in prior fiscal year.
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