This Is Probably Why There Are No Waffle Houses In New York

From Michelin-starred restaurants to the Times Square McDonald's — where customers' weird orders have been exposed on the big screen — New York seems to encompass all elements of our country's dining scene. But in a place where diners can find homestyle food from cultures around the world with just a quick subway ride, certain favorites from even within the U.S. are off-limits.

If there's one restaurant that seems suited to New York life, it's Waffle House: Open all hours of the day, cheap, quick, and nostalgic. The 24/7 diner started as a small shop in Atlanta and now has about 2,000 locations in 26 states — but there are plenty of states you'll never find a Waffle House, and New York is one of them.

Other Southern food chains have triumphantly arrived in the Empire State. Bojangles, for example, is expanding rapidly around the country and, as New York country radio station WRYK put it, is now "finally" coming to New York. And Manhattan is home to one of the world's largest Chick-fil-A locations, complete with a rooftop terrace.

So why hasn't Waffle House expanded to New York, too? There are a couple of reasons why the chain might be staying out of the Big Apple, and they all have to do with money.

Why Waffle House would need more 'dough' to be in the Big Apple

Waffle House is famous for its low prices, and for those who've eaten there, we know why it's so cheap. The dining experience is ultra-simplified, customers get in and out quickly, and the staff is no-nonsense, which saves money for the corporation.

But in New York, state taxes could increase the chain's operating costs, which could increase prices. Taxes across the board in New York state are about 32% higher than the U.S. national average (via Wallethub), and the low-tax-advocacy think tank Tax Foundation ranks the state second-to-last on its list of states with business-friendly tax policies. Another reason Waffle House might struggle in New York has to do with wages. Waffle House employees' pay leaves something to be desired; a line cook at Waffle House can expect to make just over $8 per hour – in fact, many fast food workers really don't make much money.

But in New York, minimum wages mean the company would have to pay its workers more equitably. Even tipped food service workers must make a combined total of $15 per hour, according to the state's labor department. So if Waffle House's low food costs are indeed a result of low taxes and cheap labor, the company might choose to skip over certain states like New York, rather than have to raise menu prices.