The Dead Waffle Society

Photo by Shorpy
Waffle Shop on 10th Street in Penn Quarter
Waffle Shop on 10th Street in Penn Quarter

Washington was not known for, nor ever cared to be, a café society until very recently, but one thing that it had plenty of was greasy spoons, soda fountains and all-night breakfast and grill joints starting in the 1930's.

One in particular was The Waffle Shop located across the street form Ford's Theater on 10th Street in Penn Quarter. It was built in 1954 and was still in operation until a few years ago.

Today (Photo by: HABS) Today

The unique design of the store front incorporates elegant period and high styled signage and a flowing organic tile design that moves uninterrupted from the interior of the shop to the exterior and surrounding buildings. What is marvelous about the whole visual experience is that it is so modern and beautifully thought out. The iconic letters of the exterior visually encompass the building giving it a wonderful layering effect that entices one to come in and experience the urban waffle society. The stainless and aluminum glass spandrels were of the latest technology of the time and show the optimism and progressive attitude of post-war America and its desire for change. The interior has no tables, just a serpentine long Formica counter, the stools, waffle irons and equipment are all original and they sit in the dark  gathering dust on the thin layer of grease that such a place would have after so many years of 24 hour waffle production.

(Photo by: Google Street View)

The fate of the Waffle Shop is not certain. It has been granted landmark status just as a developer was seeking to remove it for an office building.

A deal has been reached where the building and its unique design, facade and signage will be preserved, but its ability to thrive as a business remains to be seen.

For more examples like this and to those gems that were never saved, visit The Ruined Capitol.



0 Comments For This Article

B Rice

There were two other Waffle Shops, as i remember: on the south side of Park Road, NW, west of 14 Street, and in a building that is now a dominos pizza at 4538 Wisconsin Avenue, on the east side, where River Road ends at Wisconsin Ave.


So typical of DC that some developer wanted to turn this fun, funky space into a regular old office building. And typical that it will probably sit empty for years while no purpose is found for it. In other towns creative types would figure out a way to use this place fast.


I agree. Sadly, in other towns, the real estate is often not as pricey as that locale, however. Sad, nonetheless!

Constance Chatf...

What a great/sad article and what incredible design! Interesting that some restaurants today are adopting a 'communal table' approach that was popular 50 years ago. The Waffle Shop looked like a great place to have a quick breakfast or lunch. You never know who you might meet!

Tom B

Appreciation for memories of the Waffle Shop where I had my first meal in Washington. A bunch of us came down to DC from college for the weekend, and pulled into town Saturday morning feeling ravenous. The Waffle Shop suited us to perfection.