Lifestyle & Human Interest

To Help Lone, Struggling Employee at Waffle House, Kind Customer Dons Apron and Starts Serving


It was late at night, and Ethan Crispo was just one of the hungry customers to sit down inside a Waffle House in Birmingham, Alabama.

But to Crispo’s dismay, the Waffle House was terribly understaffed. Taking a look around the restaurant, Crispo could count just one employee, overwhelmed at the prospect of running the restaurant solo.

“I’ve just sat down at my table and it’s becoming clear I’ll be going home with an empty stomach,” Crispo wrote in an email to

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But before Crispo fell into a breakfast crisis despair, a stranger stepped up to turn the night around.

“From the blue, a man from the bar stands up. Asks Ben for an apron, and begins to work behind the counter,” Crispo wrote.

Based on the man’s natural working ability, Crispo figured he was a Waffle House employee.

“It was a transition so smooth I initially assumed it was a staff member returning to their shift. It wasn’t,” Crispo wrote. “It was a kind stranger. A man who answered the call. Bussed tables, did dishes, stacked plates.”

Before long, a second customer stood up to help, a woman Crispo described as wearing a dress and heels. She started taking orders and bussing tables, stacking cups in the process.

“It was the most fascinating thing,” Crispo said. “It was just one of the most wild instances of really, really cool people just coming together.”

While the mystery strangers saved the night, Pat Warner, Waffle House director of public relations and external affairs, would rather have seen the restaurant properly staffed.

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According to, the associates scheduled to work the second half of that night’s shift failed to show up. Warner was appreciative of the way customers came together to help the lone employee who spent his shift cooking for hungry customers.

“We really appreciate their efforts, though we do prefer our associates to be behind the counter,” Warner told “The key to our concept is we’re there to serve you, not the other way around.”

But the unity and camaraderie that Crispo witnessed restored his faith in the good part’s of humanity.

“Humanity isn’t just good,” Crispo said. “It’s great.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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