Get All Access for $5/mo

Why Waffle House Closures Indicate a Code Red for Florida As Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall The Waffle House Index has long been a trusted indicator of storm severity in the U.S.

By Emily Rella

Hurricane Ian is approaching the West Coast of Florida with 150+ mph winds, making landfall just past before 4:30 PM on Cayo Costa near Fort Meyers and Cape Coral.

As the storm continues to strengthen and barrel its way through the Sunshine State, many businesses are taking action as Ian gears up to an almost Category 5 level hurricane.

Watch the latest updates on the storm in real time below:

One business that made an alarming decision to close its doors is Waffle House, which has historically been known to be a trusted indicator of just how bad a storm or natural disaster will be thanks to what's been called the Waffle House Index.

The index has three levels — green (restaurants will operate as normal) yellow (restaurants will operate with limited power or menu offerings) and red (restaurants are to be closed.)

Waffle House told Entrepreneur that the company has currently shuttered 21 locations from Brandeon to Naples, Florida, noting that those locations are in the "direct path of the storm" with some in "flood-prone areas" as Ian ravages onward.

The Waffle House Index has often been viewed as the standard for determining the severity of a storm by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as locations are made to be equipped with food and emergency supplies in times of distress in order to serve the local communities in times of need.

"The Waffle House Index does not belong to us but was created by former FEMA Director Craig Fugate as a way to help FEMA workers to determine where the hardest hit areas of a community were after a storm in order to get critical resources there first," Waffle House Vice President of Public Relations Njeri Boss told Entrepreneur.

Many on Twitter made note of the Waffle House closures and what that could mean for the Sunshine State as Ian continues to make its way towards land.

Many continue to view the chain's closures as an ominous sign for what's to come.

"If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad," former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. "That's where you go to work."

Waffle House maintained that the chain has been (and will continue to be) monitoring the storm's path.

"We continue to monitor weather conditions, work closely with local government officials, emergency management teams, and our local leadership in the field to make appropriate decisions based on the circumstances in each location," Boss told Entrepreneur.

This is a developing story.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.


Getting Funding as a Minority-Owned Business Shouldn't Be a Far-Fetched Dream. Here's How This CEO is Making Public Capital More Available to All.

Historically, minority-owned businesses have faced barriers that limit their access to public capital and other necessary financial resources essential for scaling operations, innovating products, and expanding into new markets. It shouldn't be this way — raising public capital should be accessible for all, not just a privileged few.

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

Kyle Morrand and his college roommates loved playing retro video games — and the pastime would help launch his career.

Health & Wellness

90% of Execs Say Providing Employee Health Benefits Will Be Unsustainable By 2030 — Here's One Solution Businesses Need to Consider

Healthcare navigation is something that employers and employees can't afford to go without. Here's why.


Why You Have to Let People Fail Now So They Can Succeed Later

Letting people fail helps them think critically and make their own decisions.


Overnight Success as a Startup Is Unrealistic — Embrace the Uncertainty and Try This Instead.

The startup norm of "move fast and break things" is short-sighted. Here is why being patient will serve your business in the long run.


Reduce Business and Personal Airfare Costs by Saving Big with Matt's Flights

This week only, you can get a lifetime subscription for just $80.