Waffle House; Alex Bowen

Waffle House Customer Cooks His Late-Night Meal in Empty Restaurant

Where there's a Waffle House, there's a story. The American chain is an important part of culture as fans can even have a Waffle House food truck at their wedding. It doesn't matter that heart attacks might correlate to Waffle House locations because that yellow and black sign serves an important purpose in America. Not only are the quintessential highway road trip stop, those hashbrowns are also great for soaking up the leftover alcohol after you've had a wild night out. And that's exactly how Alex Bowen winded up at a Waffle House in West Columbia, South Carolina.

After a late night out, Bowen found himself unable to sleep and starving so he walked down to the nearest Waffle House. While there were no other customers in the building, he didn't see any employees, either. So, as he told WMBF, he waited for 10 minutes at the register. He spotted a sleeping employee and left the building. Then, and maybe this was the liquor talking, but he decided to go back inside.

He took photos of himself whipping up a double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles. The employees stayed asleep the whole time! He said,

"Got hot on the grill with a double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles. When I was done I cleaned the grill, collected my ill-gotten sandwich and rolled on out... I give all the credit to my old friend vodka. I wouldn't normally have done that."

He returned to the store later in the afternoon and though he didn't pay for his food before leaving after making his sandwich, he gave an employee $5 when he returned.

Can you believe he made his entire meal? He cooked the bacon, fired up the sandwich press, and was out of there without a peep.

Waffle House responded to the viral Facebook photos, stating that the sleeping employee was suspended for a week. As for Bowen, this is what the iconic chain had to say.

"Our local Division Manager has spoken to Alex and apologized. For safety reasons, our customers should never have to go behind the counter. Rather they should get a quality experience delivered by friendly associates. We are reviewing this incident and will take appropriate disciplinary action.

In a related note, obviously Alex has some cooking skills, and we'd like to talk to him about a job since we may have something for him."

The Responses

While most find the photos funny because, I mean, look at Alex Bowen's joy in taking selfies behind the counter, many are using it to comment on the service industry.

However, it's important to put this kind of work in perspective before judging the sleeping employee. Kat Gee on Facebook had an excellent response to the Waffle House haters out there.

Here's the full text.

So this is where I work... I'm thankful I wasn't at work last night, but I can't say that I've never fallen asleep at work myself, or even talked, laughed, or joked around maybe a little "too much". But all of you talking down on those who were caught sleeping, clearly don't know what we deal with at work. We sometimes work for several hours straight, where we're so busy that we can't even take a sip of water or take a bathroom break. I did this while pregnant and suffering from gestational diabetes.

A lot of us who are working there are also juggling things like being a parent, school, other jobs just trying to make ends meet. Our third shift works ten hour shifts, and then we have to go home in the morning and try to be good moms and wives and try to get a few hours of sleep in before doing it all again.

We get paid $3/hr and our checks run around $30 or under most weeks. Considering how busy we get, you'd think we'd make a ton of tips, but in reality we deal with crappy, rude customers who disrespect us and barely leave tips if they tip at all. We get HUGE groups of drunks who ruin our floors and turn our restaurant into a disaster place by spilling and throwing things and thinking it's funny. Or we'll get over run with tables full of teenagers who's parents have never taught them to tip or how to be polite and respectful.

Our customers order steak dinners and run up bills $100 or more and leave us nothing after we jump through hoops to give them good service. We have people that come in and threaten us, assault us, and throw things at us. And then, after running ourselves ragged for just a few dollars, we get so dead with no customers at all besides the one or two that will trickle in as soon as we have an opportunity to go outside for fresh air or sit down to rest for a moment.

We could be dead without customers for hours on end... And although we know we shouldn't sleep sometimes it just happens. We are so tired and disheartened by this point that its almost uncontrollable to start dozing off. And this is only IF we've finished cleaning the mounds and mounds of dishes, cleaning and mopping the whole store, including the bathrooms that our lovely customers pee and puke all over.

So while you think its funny and the pictures go viral, you get your lil news interview and attention that you were looking for, just know that you are potentially affecting the jobs of my coworkers at Christmas time who are already struggling to make ends meet and to provide presents for their children. I see that your post was meant to be funny, and I can see how badly it looks on us, but you have no idea the struggle and the bull crap that we deal with.

And before anyone says something dumb to me about getting a "real job", please explain to me then who is going to wait on you ungrateful people when you go to restaurants? Also WH, and many other similar waitressing jobs hire people who may not have finished school, or who may have a criminal record, or need certain hours so they can be home with their kids after school...and everyone deserves an opportunity like that, or a second chance at life, but sometimes its not even worth it or beneficial because we don't get paid for the work that we do do and we're ridiculed for the work that we don't do! Just my two cents

Even Alex himself responded to this disheartening look into the service industry.

For now, we can just hope that Bowen took home a few tips on how to make that double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles at home.

Watch: Did You Know Waffle Houses Are a Disaster Measure Index?