Waffle House customers help stranded employee by washing dishes, taking orders: ‘It was incredible to witness’

Kind customers at an Alabama Waffle House pitched in when the restaurant was short-staffed. (Photo: Courtesy of Ethan Crispo)

When a Waffle House restaurant was short-staffed, late-night customers kindly took over, taking orders and bussing tables.

The unique scene in Birmingham, Alabama was photographed on November 2 by patron Ethan Crispo who had stopped in the restaurant around 12:30 a.m. to order breakfast. “It was incredible to witness,” Crispo tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

The restaurant was busy that evening with an estimated 25 customers — and only one employee named Ben, whom Crispo said was speechless and overwhelmed. “He was just staring at the room full of people. I can’t imagine what he was thinking.”

According to Crispo, a man wearing a blue shirt who had been sitting at the bar, spoke briefly to Ben and within seconds, had slipped on an apron. “He started washing dishes,” Crispo tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

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While placing his order with Ben, Crispo asked, “Where’s your help tonight?” and Ben replied that his staff hadn’t shown up. He added that the man in the blue shirt was a paying customer.

Ten minutes later, while Ben was cooking in the kitchen, a female customer wearing a strapless dress and a pair of heels stood up and began bussing tables, serving orders, and making coffee, patiently deciphering the restaurant-style coffee maker. “When the woman came to my table, she said she had been out with friends that night,” says Crispo.

And Crispo says a third customer eventually stood up from his meal to pitch in.

An Alabama Waffle House was short-staffed so customers rolled up their sleeves and got to work. (Photo: Courtesy of Ethan Crispo)

Pat Warner, director of PR and external affairs at Waffle House, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “We had two associates scheduled to leave, however due to a communication mix-up, their relief did not show up promptly. Some customers came behind the counter to help the one associate, who cooked and served the food. The customers bussed tables, and one put on an apron and washed the dishes. He did a great job. We’d love for him to fill out an application and possibly officially join our team.”

Warner added, “We appreciate the customers’ effort, however we prefer to have our associates behind the counter. Our concept works best when we serve the customer, not the other way around.”

Crispo says the helpful customers were in good spirits, singing and humming as they worked their way around the restaurant. “There was a real sense of community,” he explains.

And when Crispo asked Ben why he didn’t jump ship when he was stranded, Ben replied, “That’s not the right thing to do.”

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