- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2020

Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer spoke out in a new interview against the new wave of lockdowns sweeping the country amid a widespread increase in coronavirus cases, saying the politicians making the decisions to close businesses do so without empathy for millions of struggling Americans.

“None of the people who make the decisions to shut down businesses and impact people’s livelihoods ever have their own livelihood impacted,” Mr. Ehmer told Business Insider in a profile published last week.

“The people making the decisions are not paying the same price that the workers in this country are paying,” he said. “We’re trying to provide reliable careers and jobs for people. … We work side by side with folks. I’m not going to work in an unsafe environment and I’m not going to let our folks work in an unsafe environment.”

Of Waffle House’s 1,920 locations across the country, only two are restricted to outdoor dining. Mr. Ehmer said he refuses to close indoor dining unless compelled by local governments.

“The only reason we think that we would shut a dining room down at this point is if the local government made us do so,” he said.

“A lockdown is going to put a lot of people out of work,” he said. “It’s really not about the business — it’s about the people. These people have jobs, they have livelihoods, they need to take care of their families.

“The stimulus helped a lot of restaurants and more importantly a lot of people early on,” he added. “But, what you can’t value enough is someone’s peace of mind and security that they have a job that they can count on. … Governments can’t replace all of the salaries in the economy that you want to shut down. We’ve got to find safe ways to move forward.”

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