Lenten Time Means Waffle Time in Memphis
Just because you work in the kitchen at the Calvary Waffle Shop, it doesn’t mean you get to make the waffles. If it’s your first year, it doesn’t even guarantee you a place in the salad shop, and you can forget about making dessert.
When Doug Franklin started volunteering at the Waffle Shop, he was assigned to the “chicken ranch”, the area of the kitchen where roasted chickens are de-skinned and de-boned. He’s been a Waffle Shop volunteer for five years now, and he describes himself as “still a rookie” in the hierarchy.
It’s easy to understand why he feels that way. The Calvary Church Waffle Shop has been a Lenten tradition in Memphis since 1928. The most senior volunteers – the ladies who make the waffles – have been working at the shop since the mid-1950s.
Every week day during Lent, about 75 Waffle Shop volunteers serve an average of 500 lunches.
The vibe at the Waffle Shop is sort of geriatric fabulous. A huge number of the patrons have been coming to the Waffle Shop for decades. Much of the menu hasn’t changed in the last 83 years. The Waffle Shop still uses their founding recipes for their homemade mayo and waffle batter. They serve shrimp mousse and fish pudding (neither of which is as odd in execution as it is in name). It’s also one of the only places in Memphis you can get tomato aspic, a quivering slice of red “tomato Jell-o”.
For dessert, there are pies – fudge pie and cream pie on the day that I visited. They’ve also got peppermint ice cream, which they buy in bulk from Schnucks every November and keep under lock and key until Easter Sunday.
The Calvary Waffle Shop is open every week day during Lent (until April 22) from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. If you’re so inclined, you can listen to a short sermon by a visiting pastor every morning at 12:05.