Y’all already learned in a previous Southern Delicacy column that I am a big fan of the big hair bow, but did you know that growing up I did competitive gymnastics, too? We traveled a lot around the Southeast for meets, and my mom always tried to build in fun stops along the way. One of the stops we made when in Atlanta was a very famous landmark restaurant: The Varsity!
For those of you not familiar with The Varsity, its downtown location is the world’s largest drive-in (or World’s Largest Drive-In, I suppose, since it does hold the official title!). Opened in 1928, it sits on more than two acres and can accommodate 600 cars and over eight hundred people inside. On Georgia Tech football gamedays, up to 30,000 people visit The Varsity. Holy cow!!
My favorite part of visiting was the vintage decor and nostalgic “What’ll ya have” greeting from servers. A visit to The Varsity will definitely send you back in time!
Ready for a few numbers? Every day, The Varsity goes through two miles of hot dogs, a ton of onions, 2500 pounds of potatoes, 5000 fried pies (peach and apple), and 300 gallons of made-from-scratch chili. The original owner, Frank Gordy, insisted on fresh ingredients, and three to six deliveries per day is still routine. According to The Varsity’s website, when asked what he did with leftovers, he responded: “We don’t have any.” Love that!
Something else fun involving numbers: The Varsity has always managed its extensive drive-in business by numbering cars and employing “car hops,” or “curb men.” These fellows sang and danced while reciting the menu (awesome!), and some even used their time at The Varsity to launch a career in Hollywood!
Finally, my favorite fact about The Varsity has to be that it has its own lingo. A few of my personal favorites: the Naked Dog (a plain hot dog in a bun), Walk a Dog (a hot dog to go) and the Mary Brown Steak (a plain hamburger without a bun). Take that, In-N-Out!
Tell me: Have you ever been to The Varsity? Ever considered serving their goodies at your wedding like our cute couple above? They do cater!