Young adults cleaning a diner.


Customers help clean understaffed Waffle House in viral TikTok

'Waffle House gives so much to us. Like why not give it back to them?'


Dan Latu

Internet Culture

Published Oct 29, 2021   Updated Oct 29, 2021, 3:52 pm CDT

A group of college students went viral on TikTok for helping to clean up a Waffle House restaurant. The video, posted by a waitress at the restaurant, garnered over 200,000 views.

The group of seven friends, all freshmen at Appalachian State University, arrived at the Waffle House in Boone, North Carolina, after a Friday night out together. The restaurant was understaffed, and employees started informing guests that they had to close soon for cleaning.

The group, which was the last party seated, decided to help the staff out and jump-start the clean-up process. 

James “H” Baird III, one of the friends in the video, told the Daily Dot he’s not sure who was the first to suggest the helping clean but that everyone was in agreement. 

“We didn’t even do it to get free food, and they didn’t give us free food,” he said. “Waffle House gives so much to us. Like why not give it back to them?” 

Two of the friends who previously worked in restaurants started cleaning plates. Others started pushing in chairs and wiping down counters. When the staff returned, they were stunned, Baird said. 

“They all came back in and were just so shocked,” Baird said. He said staff expressed their gratitude and reiterated the students did not have to clean. The friends carried on anyway. 

Baird said the group was there for only an hour total, including eating and cleaning time, and that they felt they owed it to workers who they know endure a lot. 

“I mean, they’re working 12 hour shifts … to get college people food in a college town,” he said. “That’s a lot. And of course college people don’t tip well, so they’re working their butt off.”

Baird, a few of his friends, and the waitress, all made TikToks of the encounter that Friday night. By Saturday afternoon, the waitress’ video came across his For You Page. The waitress, user @ashleyweinsteinart, captioned the Oct. 2 TikTok: “When we’re short staffed and have to close down the Waffle House for an hour and the last table decides to help bussing and cleaning” and set it to the theme song from the TV show Reba.

“I was like ‘woah, that looks familiar,’” Baird recalled. 

The group actually went back to the same location the following night, Baird said. He said the restaurant closed early because they didn’t have a cook on staff. But the same waitress recognized them and thanked them again for their help. 

“They tell us to come back all the time,” Baird said. “We felt like family.”

Users have expressed similar feelings for the beloved chain. TikToker @theonlyrealerin’s comment, “waffle home,” has racked up 19,000 likes. 

Another user, @ashleywinters18, said, “We take care of Waffle House because they take care of us.” The waitress, @ashleyweinsteinart, liked the comment.  

“I just know their parents raised em right,” another said.  

Baird said comments like this, which point to the group’s southern hospitality, mean the most to him.

The comments section also shows the friends reconnecting with the waitress. 

@connorcrice, one of the students, said “happy to do it!!” to which the waitress replied: “Literally made our night” 

Baird responded to her saying: “I think it made our night, one in a lifetime kinda of night!

Waffle House and @ashleyweinsteinart did not immediately return the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

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*First Published: Oct 29, 2021, 2:43 pm CDT