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Tennessee Waffle House Providing 24-Hour Eats, EV Chargers

Photo Courtesy Simon Daoudi

An irony-free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. Where everybody, regardless of race, creed, color, or degree of inebriation, is welcomed. Its warm yellow glow, a beacon of hope and salvation, inviting the hungry, the lost, the seriously hammered, all across the South, to come inside. A place of safety and nourishment. It never closes, it is always, always faithful, always there for you.” – Anthony Bourdain on Waffle House via “Parts Unknown.

Waffle House is an institution of Southern cuisine and arguably one of the most delicious “fast” foods in the U.S. Nothing warms the soul better than a chocolate chip waffle with butter and syrup all over it. Complete the order with smothered and chunked hash browns and scrambled eggs.

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner—it doesn’t matter. It’s so good that a couple recently got engaged at a Georgia location (the photo below isn’t related to the proposal, but it’s fun how things work out).

Photo Courtesy Frederick Shaw

You can’t visit the South without stopping at Waffle House at least once. It’s open 24/7, and that’s why it’s become an electric vehicle (EV) charging hotspot. 

EV charging company EnviroSpark is working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to construct four charging stations at a Waffle House off U.S. Highway 64, funded through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI). TDOT is sending partial funds to the area. 

According to a TDOT press release, around $21 million from the first round of NEVI funding will go toward building 30 fast chargers in the Volunteer State.

Ten companies contracted to deploy fast chargers along interstates and state routes to fill the gap are taking up the task.  

Fast Company reported that the Waffle House chargers will cost around $880,000 and open 24 hours. Customers will be able to enjoy their meal while their car charges. More will be set up in gas stations, rest stops, and convenience stores. 

Waffle House is notorious for its food and for its never-closed policy. In fact, there is a natural disaster measurement called the Waffle House Index which checks to see if the chain restaurant shuts down because of a storm’s severity. 

I can personally attest to this. In 2018, there was massive snow in Greenville, South Carolina. The nearest Waffle House to Furman University did not close despite the snow-covered roads and the county’s lack of snow plows. My Northeast roots showed themselves that day, as my roommates and I made it to the restaurant and enjoyed the comfort food Waffle House offers. 

More charging stations are needed to get more EVs on the road. A record number of units were sold in 2023. More than 1 million cars were purchased nationally, with domestic brands like Tesla, Ford, and GM leading the way. Foreign manufacturers like Hyundai and Volkswagen also saw a lot of success in America last year. 

Photo Courtesy Roger Starnes Sr

The government mandated that all EV chargers be universal, including the Tesla Supercharger network, by July 2024. The North American Charging Standard (NACS) will see all North American EV chargers align with Tesla’s version. More affordable models are coming, including a low-cost Tesla model. 

EnviroSpark announced in June 2023 that its chargers would integrate NACS cords and adapters to offer more universal charging.

Aaron Luque, CEO and founder, said the company has been committed to using this technology since it began in 2014. 

There could be nearly 26 million EVs on the roads by 2030, more than 60% of new vehicles sold. More businesses have added charging stations to their parking lots to meet demand. The NEVI plan will increase public charging, but private companies have also seen the need to set up more charging stations in their place of business. 

Photo Courtesy Moses Malik Roldan

Tennessee has a map of all the highways on which it plans to install charging stations and alternative fuel pumps. More than $88 million will be spent between 2022 and 2026 to get the state’s public charging up to a larger scale. 

“Tennessee has been home to the automotive industry since the 1980s, and those automakers are growing electric vehicle manufacturing,” Butch Eley, deputy governor and TDOT commissioner, said in a statement. “With these federal dollars, Tennessee is investing in its future and paving the way to lead the nation as an EV epicenter. We want to ensure that drivers in any vehicle can safely get across the state from Mountain City to Memphis.”  


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