No light switches, no locks. When the first Blacksburg Waffle House opens it's doors today, it will be for the duration.
The restaurant plans to open mid-morning according to Doug Mayenschein, and will remain open on a 24-hour, 365-day schedule.
"Our goal is 10 a.m.," the division manager said, although the time is not set in stone. The aim was to open before the first football game of the season against Georgia Tech.
"Georgia Tech is (Waffle House president) Bert Thornton's alma mater," said David Robinson, a Waffle House district manager. "There's been a lot of anticipation for this game and this opening, and somehow we made it happen."
Mayenschein expects most of the opening day traffic to be walk-ins and walk-bys. The store, which sits at 610 N Main St in a converted TCBY and Revive Salon & Spa space, is a short walk from both campus and downtown Blacksburg.
"Parking is a commodity here in Blacksburg, and especially in this location," Mayenschein said. "But we've been watching people walk by and stop in all week."
Store manager JoAnn Seymour said that was not the location's only draw.
"It's in the best place on earth--Blacksburg," Seymour said.
A 2000 Virginia Tech graduate, Seymour moved back to the area to take the management position at this Waffle House location, despite never working for the franchise previously.
"I wanted to be with my people. This is the only store on the planet with these colors," she said, motioning to the orange and maroon stripes on the walls. "You can't get that anywhere else."
The colors are not the only unique detail at the Blacksburg branch — this location broke with Waffle House tradition of building from the ground up.
While according to Mayenschein this isn't the first time the company has converted an existing space, it has been a factor in planning the opening.
Additionally, of the 70 workers hired before the opening, Mayenschein estimates almost half of the staff consists up of Virginia Tech students.
"Hokies serving Hokies. How can you beat that?" Seymour said.
To prepare, Waffle House staff and management hosted a soft opening Monday night, inviting select community members to preview the new location.
Blacksburg high school senior Sam Spencer, the youngest employee to work the opening, was hired for his first food service job at the new store.
"I've been training since August 8," Spencer said. "I'm working with a lot of long-time employees from the Christiansburg Waffle House. It's been a great experience learning how things work from them."
Those attending the soft opening included Spencer's family, corporate managers and Town of Blacksburg employees.
"The food is delicious," said town clerk Donna Caldwell. "I think it really adds variety to the community. It encourages people to go out more."
Her son and recent Virginia Tech graduate, Barek Caldwell, agreed.
"My friends and I used to drive out to Christiansburg just to eat at Waffle House," Barek Caldwell said. "I think if this had opened when I was in college I would've put on a little more weight."
Sitting just one table over, vice mayor Leslie Hager-Smith and town council member Susan Anderson swapped similar comments about the restaurant's variety.
"In Blacksburg everyone is on different schedules," Anderson said. "This is open 24 hours, so it let's you listen to whatever body clock you have. Now students have someplace to go when the bars are closed to get some healthy food."
"And we did get healthy food," Hager-Smith added. "They have salads and fruit."