PANAMA CITY BEACH-- The two Waffle House restaurants on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach are neck and neck for the busiest Waffle House locations in the country.
But it’s not the reason why one of the restaurants, across from the Holiday Inn, is making the rounds on social media.
A woman who was in Panama City Beach for vacation with her family loved what she saw while having breakfast, and now her photo is going viral. And it’s not about the waffles.
“We were sat down and were just eating,” Paige Price said, “and then I heard the manager say something about shift change or something. And I looked over and I saw them gathering around in a circle holding hands I told Brandon, ‘uhm look’, and he's like they're praying."
The prayer circle, in the middle of the Waffle House kitchen, caught Price’s eye. So she snapped a photo, shared it to Facebook and wrote about how it made her smile.
She wrote: “They gathered in their little circle, spoke a soft prayer, and went on about their business. Why am I posting this? The world that I've grown up in for 23 years is changing fast and to see this just made my heart smile. Maybe there's hope for our country after all. I applaud these people for standing up for what they believe in and not worrying about offending others or what others may think/say about them.”
By Wednesday, Price could not believe where the photo had gone. It has as many shares and likes as there are Waffle Houses – and more. It made local news in Atlanta and Chicago.
“I even got a Facebook messages from someone in New York,” Price said.
By Wednesday afternoon, the post had been shared more than 182,000 times. Price said she can’t even count how many messages she’s received that thank her for sharing the post.
The friend requests, nearing the thousands, have kept her phone buzzing the entire vacation.
"I am from a small town and nothing like this ever happens. So it's weird."
Price said she also received messages from people who said they thought Price’s post would cost the employees their jobs.
But so far, nothing.
“The people in the picture Facebook messaged me and said they’re not gonna get fired over it. It’s something they do all the time.”
Employees at the Waffle House said they don’t pray every day and no one is forced to do it.
But some think it’s a nice change of pace.
"That's mainly why I took the picture and shared it because of all the crazy stuff that's going on in the world right now,” Price said. “I mean you know, most people are afraid or scared to do it in public, so it was kind of like I guess the perfect moment to take a picture."
A member of Waffle House’s corporate team said they don’t encourage nor do they discourage team members from praying. And they don’t allow employees to do interviews. But they did say they were glad to hear Price enjoyed her visit.