Joe Rogers Sr. (1919 - 2017)

Joe Rogers Sr., the Georgia businessman who co-founded the venerable Waffle House franchise restaurant chain, died Friday, March 3, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 97.

Rogers was a former CEO of the chain, which got its start in 1955 in Georgia and has grown to more than 1,700 locations in 25 states.

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He was born Nov. 30, 1919, in Jackson, Tennessee. He started his restaurant career as a short-order cook in 1947 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was promoted to regional manager in 1949, moving to Atlanta. While there, he met Tom Forkner, his eventual partner in the Waffle House chain. The real estate broker had sold Rogers a house.

According to Forkner, Rogers proposed the creation of a sit-down, quick-service eatery saying, "You build a restaurant and I'll show you how to run it."

The partners eventually settled on the Waffle House name proposed by Forkner. Rogers suggested operating the restaurant 24 hours a day.

Rogers was a veteran of World War II. He rose to the rank of captain in the Army Air Corps, where he learned to fly.

Fans of Rogers and the Waffle House restaurants shared their condolences on social media.

"Sad to hear that Joe Rogers, Sr. passed away at 97," wrote former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a post on Facebook. "In Waffle House he built a great restaurant chain with many faithful customers, including me."

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