61 North Ave Nw, Atlanta, GA 30308
A greased-up fast food stop might seem like an odd visit for someone on a historic tour of the Gateway City of the South, but arguably there is no more important Atlanta eatery than The Varsity. First opened in 1928 under the name ‘The Yellow Jacket’ and primarily catering to Georgia Tech students, business grew until it was relocated to 61 North Avenue and renamed The Varsity to avoid alienating other campuses. Today, that restaurant is the biggest drive-in fast food establishment in the world, a double-decker cultural center of Atlanta still nearby the Georgia Tech campus and just under a mile from popular tourist sites like the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke Museum. The Varsity is particularly notable for its unwavering dedication to its own history and culture. Approaching the downtown location is like stepping into a timewarp; the massive restaurant maintains its art deco styling, carhops with paper hats serve rows of parked cars, and, most importantly, the menu remains simple and unchanged: chili dogs, hamburgers, onion rings, and the iconic frosted orange slush. Over the years, the downtown restaurant has been visited by celebrities and political figures, including U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The restaurant has expanded over the years to serve several outlying Atlanta areas like Alpharetta and Norcross and even as far as Athens, serving the University of Georgia. Most recently, two new restaurants were opened at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport, at Terminals A and C; making layovers at the busy airport just a little more bearable.
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