The first Waffle House franchise opened in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates, Ga., in 1955. Phil Mickelson won three BellSouth Classic titles in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth this decade. Other than that, there's not a lot Lefty has in common with the Southeast-based restaurant chain more known for late-night visits by college students looking for an early cure to the inevitable hangover.
But now comes a report out of The Tennesseean that Mickelson (along with Nashville-area businessman Terry Prefanis and Mickelson's agent, Steve Loy) has put in a bid to purchase 105 Waffle House locations. The trio has offered to bail franchisee SouthEast Waffles out of bankruptcy for $20.2 million in cash and payments over time.
The bid has lots of red tape to go through before the sale is complete. But if approved, Mickelson could be part-owner in one of the most famous (some might say infamous) eateries in the country. The 24-hour diner has over 1,500 locations in 25 states and is part of Americana. "The Awful Waffle" has also become a pop culture reference made in songs, comedy routines and even made an appearance in the 1996 golf classic "Tin Cup" (as did Mr. Mickelson.)
The article indicates that while none of the three men have run a restaurant, they're all fans of the venerable establishment and would hire an operator with "significant" experience. The group intends on renovating some of the older stores and eventually expanding. They also believe it's simply a good business opportunity.
Obviously, 2009 has been an eventful year for Mickelson. Becoming part-owner in the home of "scattered, smothered and covered" hashbrowns would be just another chapter ... but a delicious one.
Golfer Phil Mickelson bids on Nashville Waffle House franchisee [The Tennessean]