Lenten Time Means Waffle Time in Memphis

Posted by Holly Whitfield | April 4th 2011 1403 0

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.

The salad station at the Calvary Waffle Shop

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.

Salad plate from the Calvary Waffle Shop

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.

Cream pies at the Calvary Waffle Shop

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.

Go there:

Calvary Waffle Shop

102 North 2nd Street
Memphis, TN 38103

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Billie Pierce says:

    My late father-in-law, Frank Pierce, took me to my very first Lenten Luncheon at Calvary when I first moved to Memphis eight years ago. He ordered the Fish Pudding. I was wary. Then I tried it… Actually quite good. Now I go and get the Fish Pudding every year in his memory! I also own their cook book. PS: the bright orange topping on those salads is homemade mayo! Found that out the hard way…

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