How student project Michigan Waffle House became an Instagram hit

“Wait, why do you look so familiar?” Before I could even ask a question, LSA senior Cam Turner was interviewing me instead. I have to laugh because I know exactly why I look so familiar to him — he was an RA in my freshman dorm. It’s not the only thing we have in common, either. We’re both from the South, him from Georgia and myself from Tennessee, and we’re both passionate about the one thing that binds all Southerners together: Waffle House.

“This all started with Dr. (Eric) Fretz’s Entrepreneurial Creativity class,” Turner said in an interview with The Michigan Daily, “we needed a project … then that one kind of stuck for whatever reason.” He’s referring to Michigan Waffle House, the Instagram campaign to “bring the state of Michigan its first Waffle House franchise.” Turner is one of five founding campaign members: Zach Simpson, Leo Samba — whom he called “the other (Southerner)” — Harshith Vempati and Nikhil Tangella round out the team. Back in the fall of 2020, the five were charged with designing a movement or campaign that solved an issue on campus, and Michigan Waffle House was born as a solution for two things: the absence of a Waffle House in Michigan and the lack of affordable late-night food on campus.

The movement exists largely on Instagram, and it’s only grown since its conception. In December of 2020, the page had 650 followers, and at the time of the interview, that number had grown to 1,180. When asked about that growth, Turner said that “hitting 1,000 followers is like a milestone… that’s a decent following.” The group has expanded into selling merchandise (“waffledrip”), producing Waffle House parodies of pop music (“waffletunes”) and, most recently, hosting Waffle Day in campus dining halls.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *