Oxford residents and visitors can soon find themselves at Waffle House, enjoying breakfast, lunch, dinner and even a late-night snack. The restaurant chain has plans to open a new location at 5000 College Corner Pike, perhaps as soon as this fall.
Waffle House will be open 24 hours a day, providing the city with new, easily accessible food options. The restaurant is supposed to contribute to the city’s economic growth by increasing commerce and adding construction and food service jobs.
The Oxford City Council unanimously approved several variances to continue the Waffle House development at its March 21 meeting. Oxford’s Economic Development Specialist Seth Cropenbaker said variances like these are common.
“They’re in the breaking ground,” Cropenbaker said.
He couldn’t give a defined date for when the Waffle House will be open for business as the supply chain is still experiencing severe disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite near-uncontested approval by the city government, various members of the public have raised complaints.
Cathleen Zion, an active member of St. Mary Roman Catholic Parish, was one of the most vocal opponents in the development. Like many other members of the church, she had concerns about litter on Mount Olivet — the St. Mary’s-affiliated cemetery next to the Waffle House property.
She continued that Waffle House has nearly 2,000 restaurants.
“They don’t need Oxford,” she said.
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As a restaurant chain,Waffle House does have a plethora of already-established locations. According to the Waffle House website, there are already 80 in Ohio.
Ethan Corey, a biology student at Miami University, was excited for the Waffle House development until he learned of its location.
“Waffle House is my favorite place to spontaneously go to,” he said, “but it’s hard to spontaneously go to a place I cannot walk to.”
Kinesiology student Garrett Perry said any of his stops at the new restaurant would be late at night when other establishments are closed, not during normal business hours.
“If it’s breakfast time, I’m going to Bob Evans,” he said.
However, several city members have made it clear the Waffle House development is completely reasonable, even if it wasn’t their first choice for a restaurant.
Mayor William Snavely said City Council doesn’t have the power to decide which businesses come to Oxford as long as they abide by established policies and zoning.
“For the public’s information, we don’t choose tenants,” Snavely said. “We don’t choose which restaurants come to town. So that’s why it’s not a Panera.”
Typically, City Council receives less opposition than the Waffle House development. Yet, the city does not find complaints from the public to be frustrating.
“You get to see the democratic process unfold at these meetings,” Cropenbaker said. “It is the right of members of the community to express their feelings, regardless of how anyone else in the room may feel about it.”