Did a blogger bring Waffle House to Pickens, South Carolina?
From the globe lights to the glowing yellow roof with a familiar name, Waffle House is a Southern staple wrapped in nostalgia.
Right behind Georgia, the state Waffle House began in after two neighbors opened the first restaurant in 1955, South Carolina has the second-highest concentration of restaurants per person.
While Easley and Central have the classic restaurant, food blogger Brooke Carman has been pushing for one in Pickens through her social media pages "The Pickens Foodie."
Her countless posts tagging Waffle House may have just worked.
The official Waffle House Facebook account commented on one of Carman's posts, saying a Pickens location has been on their radar.
Waffle House is still in the process of determining the possibilities with no current schedule, spokesperson for Waffle House Njeri Boss said in an email.
"We enjoy engaging with our customers and fans on social media when we are able to do so," Boss said.
While they might hide a secret or two in plain sight like how the cooks mark the orders they cook, the company does not share real estate strategies, Boss said.
Carman said staff at the Easley Waffle House have messaged her saying a Pickens location is coming, so she counts her work as a success.
We may never know if it was Brooke Carman who encouraged a Waffle House to come to Pickens. But there is no doubt she's making a mark on the Pickens food scene.
'EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT IT IS': FOOD BLOG HIGHLIGHTS LOCAL FAVORITES
On March 21 at lunchtime, Carman was waiting in line at Rivyve Juice Bar Bistro & Boutique when someone asked her if she was "The Pickens Foodie."
Yes, she said with a smile.
After she ordered a smoothie bowl, she ran into someone she was in daycare with as a child, who asked about her blog and congratulated her on how popular it has gotten.
Pickens is home.
The county, sandwiched between Greenville and Seneca, is known for Table Rock State Park and scenic Highway 11.
"It's a nice place to live where you can just sit back and relax and appreciate the slower pace of things," Carman said. She usually samples Pickens shops as incognito as possible while wearing a fluorescent yellow vest and muddy boots, she said.
A typical day for Carman takes her all over the county as a utility locator. When it gets close to her lunch break she starts skimming around for a place to try and by noon she's chowing down at a local spot.
"I enjoy going to different restaurants in the area and like (to) help promote them," Carman said. "There are good places to eat in the area."
She never thought taking photos at local places would get the attention it has.
With over 9,500 followers on her Facebook page, when Carman posts a photo, like a bagel from Bee Well Honey Natural Market & Coffee Shop, her followers are quick to try it, staff say.
"I think her blog is awesome for our small little town and any time someone mentions her blog, everyone knows what it is," Pickens native Kamryn Dyches said.
Dyches recently tried El Agave because of a post on The Pickens Foodie. She said the small restaurant in downtown Pickens could have been overlooked but now she knows a place to get great chicken tamales, she said.
Caleb Greene started making fruitcakes a few years ago because of an inside joke. His friend ate his dad's whole fruit cake one day so naturally Greene decided to bake him one for Christmas.
"So, I thought it was hilarious that a 15-year-old boy had eaten the whole thing, and I needed a Christmas gift for him, so I baked one," Greene said. "They went nuts over it, and I really liked it, too."
At first he started selling a few dozen one-pound cakes, but after a friend told Carman to try one and she posted about it on her page, he was able to ramp up production and made 200, Greene said.
"A friend told the Foodie she should try one, and she loved it, too, and it really took off," he said.
WAFFLE HOUSE A MAYBE, SO KEEP AN EYE OUT
Carman and her 13-year-old son have memories at Waffle House that go back to when he was a toddler. He'd wear a hat from the staff that said "Waffle House Prince" while eating his waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse.
"That's why Waffle House is so special," she said.
Another thing she loves about Waffle House is its flexible hours and casual atmosphere that welcomes anyone at any time.
On a Monday afternoon, the Easley location was bustling with eight workers and was half full with a couple people stopping by on their lunch break, a dad and young daughter on a date and three friends off of school.
And yes, she can confirm the best time to go to Waffle House is in the middle of the night.
Half of the U.S. is home to more than 1,900 Waffle House locations with a heavier concentration in southern states. California, Michigan and New York are a few of the states that don't have them.
Top five Waffle House density in U.S.:
— Georgia has 432
— Florida has 185
— North Carolina has 182
— South Carolina has 171
— Alabama has 152
Georgia, home to the first Waffle House, has the most locations out of any state with a whopping 432 but South Carolina comes in fourth with 171.
And time will tell if Pickens is the 172nd Waffle House in South Carolina.