Higher education is a four-year gauntlet of lectures, self discovery and zillions upon zillions of crushed beers.
At face value, these three aspects are seemingly only related by the fact that they are all staples of the stereotypical “college experience.” However, there is a second factor that ties these three things together quite well – food.
If there is one definite life skill college teaches you, it’s where to find a decent meal, and boy have I already received my Ph.D. in that field. In the short six months I’ve spent on Rocky Top, I’ve broken bread in every beer barrel and beef barn east of the Tennessee River.
If there’s one thing that my vast amount of expertise and slight overconfidence tells me, it’s that we are in desperate need of a Waffle House around here.
I want you to pause for a second and just imagine the sound of sizzling hash browns and the smell of warm, grease-covered, southern delicacies filling an over lit, rectangular room at 3:43 in the morning on a Saturday. This sounds like a UT student’s fever dream, but I assure you, we can make it a reality.
The really attractive thing about Waffle House is that it is truly a 24-hour eatery, and with complaints about the dining halls not staying open late enough and places on the strip closing down at 10 or 11 at night, it would provide students with an offering to curb the hunger pains brought on by late nights of country music and self deprecation.
Now I know what you may be thinking, “Brody, we don’t have the space for that kind of thing. Why don’t ya just take a hike?” Well that’s where you’re wrong again.
This campus has ample space for a Waffle House franchise. I mean come on, just take a look around — the number of empty buildings is atrocious. Between the missing fourth of University Commons and the handful of empty buildings on the strip, you absolutely cannot convince me that there is not enough space to give the people the grease-filled, carb fest they want.
Take the empty O’Charley’s building for example, it is centrally located, pre-built and more than large enough to be the next home of Waffle House on the strip. The only thing you’d need to turn this place into a sweet, syrupy oasis is a little bit of interior renovation.
The addition of a Waffle House would also help curb the crippling lack of options for food on campus.
Now, before all you “Caniacs” form an angry mob against me, just hear me out. There are at least eight places that exclusively or highly feature chicken dishes. Eight. How much chicken can one person eat? Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice box combo from Cane’s or an original sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, but really, do we need eight chicken restaurants?
It is my understanding that most of the food options on campus sign licensing and franchising agreements with the university in order to provide meal equivalency options to the student body. These contracts benefit both the business selling the rights to UT and the university itself by creating an even cash flow between the two entities, and this financial agreement has proved to highly stimulate the campus economy.
This being said, UT is essentially throwing enough money away with this lack of a Waffle House conundrum to buy Chancellor Plowman brand-name Edible Arrangements instead of the generic Publix version.
In conclusion, you don’t need a Ph.D. in street smarts like me to see the forest for the trees here. This place would make a killing, and it would satisfy the students’ craving for a new and exciting option in the food department. Imagine the community that this place would make as well. We wouldn’t even need these carpet-covered, taxpayer funded rooms for club meetings. Everyone would just gather in harmony down at the Waffle House.
It would be like the ending of “Les Misérables” when everyone sings together on the giant wooden barricade — pure joy. And whoever decides to capitalize on this idea, my email is linked below. I expect a quite large thank you, because my little breakfast rant here probably just paid for your children’s college. You’re welcome.
Brody Cox is a freshman majoring in marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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