Waffle House co-founder Tom Forkner dies at 98 - CBS46 News

Waffle House co-founder Tom Forkner dies at 98

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Thomas Forkner, Joe Rogers. (SOURCE: Waffle House) Thomas Forkner, Joe Rogers. (SOURCE: Waffle House)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

One of the men who helped bring the world hash browns, scattered, covered chunked as well as the chocolate chip waffle has died.

Thomas Francis Forkner, Sr. died on April 26, the company said in a statement. Forkner, along with Joe Rogers Sr., opened the first Waffle House restaurant on Labor Day 1955 in Avondale Estates. 

“Joe told me to open a restaurant and he’d show me how to run it,” Rogers said. Rogers' son said the two men had a handshake deal with continued for more than 60 years.

Forkner would later join Rogers at the Waffle House full-time in 1961, and the chain took off from there.

“Tom and Joe were great partners — Tom working the real estate side of the business and my father operating the restaurants,” Joe Rogers Jr. said.

The duo had opened 400 restaurants by the end of the 1970s when they sold the business to the next generation. Though he was out of the day-to-day business, Tom regularly went into the Norcross, Ga., corporate office, including trips just weeks before his death, officials said.

“Tom would drive himself to the office to have lunch with new manager trainees,” Joe Rogers Jr. said. “He would chat with them about how the company began and offer encouragement to them as they started their careers.”

A celebration of life will be held at Norcross First United Methodist church on Sunday, April 30, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. Visitation will be held at Crowell Brothers Funeral Homes & Crematory on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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