100 Heighe Street · Bel Air, MD 21014 · 410-638-4600

The Bellarion

The Bellarion

The Bellarion

Homecoming and Its Effects on the Bel Air Ecosystem

from former and current employees of our beloved 24/7 diners.

It’s 2 PM when I walk into my job at Waffle House – and immediately I’m slammed. Just about everyone and their grandmother decided to come in today, to the point that my cook has to find a pen and pencil to take orders also. I can’t remember how many waffles I put down; I can’t remember how many tickets I had to write. It’s 2 PM, but at 2 PM at Waffle House – it’s when the store’s supposed to quiet down, not ramp up.

Homecoming left our store busy for the entire twenty-four hours. Third shift was busy from 9 pm to 7 am and our morning shift was so busy that when I walked in, they looked at me like their lord and savior. Prom, homecoming, musicals, football games – our 24/7 chain diners like IHOP and Waffle House go through their own personal Vietnam. One of my first tastes of this was in seventh grade when I was – not to brag – a part of the tech crew of Legally Blonde Jr – where we took up the entire left section of the restaurant. I hadn’t ever seen that many people at a restaurant as one whole group.  

So, you begin to think, how does homecoming affect our restaurants? Especially our 24/7 chains – who seem to be the only establishments open by the time homecoming reaches its conclusion. I had my own experiences, sure, but I never had been in the eye of the storm – where I was working those night shifts directly after homecoming.  

I sit in my IHOP booth, and sheepishly ask my server whether can interview them about the subject – and they tell me they’ll get their coworker, a high schooler who unfortunately was stuck serving until eleven that night due to the homecoming storm. For this interview, our server shall remain anonymous.

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What was it like working on homecoming night? 

IHOP Anonymous: So, to be honest, there was a lot of people. There was probably like groups of ten coming in here – and we only had three servers that night and I was leaving when they were coming in. I ended up leaving at 11, even though I was done all my work at 10. It was crazy. Some people that weren’t even involved in homecoming were also coming. So, with the people that were in homecoming – they would pick up their friends and bring them over here. 

What’s your opinion on serving teenagers? 

IHOP Anonymous: I don’t like it. I’m a teenager, too – and just talking to people your age sucks. Teenagers really don’t tip, they’ll give you just a dollar and that’s it. 

Did you make any tips for that homecoming night? 

IHOP Anonymous: Yeah – I made a really good amount. 

Were the homecoming people tipping well – or just, like, two dollars? 

IHOP Anonymous: They were just giving two dollars. It was – horrible. But for the amount of groups that were in here, the guys would be paying for the girls and stuff like that – they’d probably be like five groups from that one table, so I’d be making ten bucks from that one table. 

[CBS News reports that “Gen Z, Millennials and men stand out for being the worst tippers,” though that “older generations and women tip more generously” – according to a Bankrate survey.]

But – is that completely true for everyone? After visiting IHOP, I went to Waffle House, and to my luck my former coworker Shawn, or known online as “Dr. Slay” was sitting atop the high counter eating an omelet. Shawn is an employee at Waffle House that is entirely unique to himself – as he runs his own Instagram page dedicated to Waffle House and his customers. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, as young adults come in asking if Shawn is here – or if he was showing up soon. He has a compelling personality – where he brings his customers into his Instagram videos to chant “Waffle House,” or his other more personal slogans.

Shawn – or Dr. Slay – has brought an entirely new life to the Waffle House nightshift due to his charisma and utterly unique approach to working a ten-hour shift at this chain diner. To put it most easily, teenage boys love Shawn. 

What was it like working homecoming night? 

WH: Very busy – we had a thousand customers per second. 

Did you make good tips? 

WH: I made over 500 that night. 

So compared to a normal night – and a homecoming night – what would you say is the big difference? 

WH: Well we had a lot more younger kids and we had a lot of kids in groups – like they came in ten deep. Multiple groups. All night. First was the football games, they came in about three teams deep, then the homecoming people came in with their suits on looking all fly. All races. All on tables. All loving it. There was no racism that night. 

What’s it like serving teenagers for you?

WH: I got a lot of kids. So, it was amazing. It was like serving my kids. Sometimes you gotta tell them to take a seat, though. For third shift we had more customers per second and me serving only. 

Homecoming leaves an impact – whether it be for the nights of teenagers across the globe, or for the pockets of a few servers out there. The only thing is – if you’re going to Waffle House, or IHOP, on a night where it’s bursting out the seams – remember to put a little to the way of your server. Half the time, they’re understaffed and unprepared for what the nights are about to bring.
In general – just as most comedians say – Tip Your Waitresses!