Scattered and messed up: 2020 puts the Malzahn family Waffle House tradition on hold
One of the difficult realities of the coronavirus pandemic is that the Malzahn family, specifically Gus and his wife Kristi, cannot make their regular celebratory visits to an Auburn Waffle House.
“It’s been like typical 2020 so far — it’s just messed up everything,” Kristi told Tom Green of AL.com.
This routine follows others around Auburn, including the Tiger Walk and the pregame eagle flight around Jordan-Hare Stadium. They previously celebrated wins with a postgame, late-night meal at Waffle House, but it’s been put on hold.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m real disappointed I can’t go to my Waffle House after the game,” Gus Malzahn said. “So, it’s a weird year, like we’ve talked about, in a lot of different ways.”
The staff at the Glenn Avenue Waffle House all signed an orange-and-blue Waffle House hat which featured the score of Auburn’s season-opener against Kentucky on Sept. 26. The hat was intended as a gift to Gus and Kristi Malzahn to commemorate the 29-13 win against the Wildcats, which kicked off their eighth season at Auburn. Deb McGrew, a server at the Waffle House on Glenn, planned to present it to the Malzahns when they came in for their customary post-win meal that night, but she never got the opportunity.
Green reported that the Malzahns’ weekly date at Waffle House gained attention in 2013, during Malzahn’s first season as Auburn’s head coach, but the tradition took root in Springdale, Ark., 23 years ago during Gus’ second season as head coach at Shiloh Christian.
“It’s kind of an everyman’s place,” Kristi said. “You know, everybody’s always welcome at Waffle House. You can walk in in your dressiest of dresses that you’d see during prom season and formal season; you see people in there in their prom and formal looks, but you also see those that are down on their luck and those that have had a little too much fun and those that have been trying to drown some sorrows maybe. It’s a little bit of everything.”