We’ve all been there—you’ve had a long night, and suddenly the munchies kick in. When those late-night cravings for pancakes and grilled cheese hit you, it’s always nice to have a reliable local diner that can whip you up a meal after all the other restaurants have long closed.
For many people, that place is Waffle House. With over 2,000 locations in the southern US, the chain is open 24 hours, every day of the year.
When Alex Bowen, from West Columbia, South Carolina, found himself in his nearby Waffle House one night in late November, he was a pretty typical customer.
“It was around 3 a.m. I was pretty inebriated,” he told ABC News.
Bowen was hungry and unable to sleep, so he hit up the diner for some food. However, he discovered that not everyone was full of energy at that hour.
There was only one employee—and he was sleeping.
There were no other customers. Bowen was surprised to see the restaurant vacant except for this one sound-asleep employee.
“I walked back outside to look for employees,” Bowen told WIS-TV. “No one in sight.”
But Bowen had come all this way, and he wasn’t ready to leave without some grub. So, he made the kind of bold decision that could only be made after a night of partying.
He went behind the counter and started cooking.
Bowen proved he didn’t need an awake kitchen staff to make his culinary desires a reality. He fired up the grill and instinctively knew how to make his go-to Waffle House order.
“Got hot on the grill with a double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles,” Bowen said.
Bowen was even pretty courteous about the whole thing.
“When I was done I cleaned the grill, collected my ill-gotten sandwich and rolled on out.”
Bowen took some selfies with his makeshift diner food and shared them on his Facebook page. Otherwise, he could’ve gotten away with it entirely without anyone noticing.
“[The employee] didn’t wake up the entire time,” Bowen told ABC News. “And no one came inside the restaurant.”
While he initially didn’t think to pay for a meal he made himself, he decided to return the next day and paid his bill. He was worried that the staff would frown upon his guerilla-style cooking.
But Waffle House had an unexpected response.
As the story went viral online, Waffle House was evidently most annoyed by their snoozing staff members. They suspended the employee that Bowen caught napping on the job for a week.
“For safety reasons, our customers should never have to go behind the counter. Rather, they should get a quality experience delivered by friendly associates,” they wrote in a statement, according to ABC News. “We are reviewing this incident and will take appropriate disciplinary action.”
But they weren’t upset with Bowen … on the contrary.
“Obviously Alex has some cooking skills, and we’d like to talk to him about a job since we may have something for him.”
The chain’s district manager reached out to Bowen to thank him for bringing the issue to their attention—and actually offered him a job: a secret shopper at Waffle House locations.
This possibly makes Bowen the first person to make some questionable decisions at 3 a.m. while under the influence and wake up with a job.