But not to fear – it will be back, although in a whole new building.
The plan is to have the restaurant open again as soon as possible, but that could take several months, a top company executive said Monday.
“We’re not sure when it will be,” said Curtis Mount, senior vice president of Rocky Top Waffles LLC., the franchisee of the Clinton store. “It depends on the weather, among other things.”
The company must first tear down the current building – which has been there 30 years – before construction can begin on the new one.
Clinton officials issued a building permit to the restaurant’s owners Dec. 8, showing a cost of $550,000 for the construction of a 2,132 square-foot “new commercial structure” at 2255 N. Charles G. Seivers Blvd. Contractor on the permit is listed as Market Place Holdings.
The project has been a year in the making. The company obtained a demolition permit for the present building in January 2020, intending to close and rebuild last spring. But the shutdown was delayed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the project had been on hold for a year.
Mount said last January that the entire project could take four to eight months to complete, and that there would be no Waffle House in Clinton until the new facility was completed and opened.
“It will be a whole new building,” Mount said, adding that it would be “just a little bit larger than the present building,” which has been open in that spot for more than 30 years, and will have “about eight more seats, if that.”
As to why it’s being done, Mount said: “Every 30 years we tear one down and put a new one in.”
While the restaurant is shut down, the current staff of about 30 will be offered temporary positions in nearby Waffle House locations operated by the same company, which include the ones in Caryville, Powell and Oak Ridge, Mount said.
Rocky Top Waffles is the oldest Waffle House franchisee – and was the first, Mount said. It’s based in Alpharetta, Georgie, and has three divisions.
One division is in upper East Tennessee, and it has 33 Waffle House locations from Bristol/Kingsport/Johnson City to Lenoir City, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. It includes the Clinton store and all Knoxville-area stores. There is another in the Chattanooga area, and a third one in north Georgia.
The first Waffle House was opened by Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner on Labor Day, 1955, in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The parent company, headquartered in Norcross, Ga., has more than 1,500 Waffle House locations, both company-owned and franchises.