Food & Drink

The Varsity Celebrates 90 Years in Atlanta

No matter how you answer “What’ll ya have” it will cost a little less on the restaurant’s birthday

photo: Tim Bower

What is the Varsity?

In 1928, Frank Gordy started slinging burgers and dogs in a humble brick building across from Georgia Tech. Now spanning two city blocks on Atlanta’s North Avenue, the Varsity is the largest drive-in fast-food restaurant in the world. The nostalgic establishment has served the likes of Elvis Presley, Clark Gable, Muhammad Ali, and at least four former U.S. presidents. In 1932, Gordy set up another Varsity seventy miles northeast in Athens. More recently, locations have popped up in Kennesaw, Norcross, and Dawsonville. You can even snag a Chili Dog during layovers at Hartsfield-Jackson airport (gates C and F), and at Falcons games.


What to order?

When the cashier asks, “What’ll ya have?” a greeting run together like a single word, be ready with your answer. Choose a Chili, Slaw, or Naked Dog, or opt for a Steak (a burger with ketchup, mustard, and pickles)—and be sure to get a side of onion rings. Wash it down with an F.O. (Frosted Orange, the Varsity’s renowned orange milk shake), a P.C. (plain chocolate milk and ice), or another Atlanta classic, an ice-cold Coca-Cola. Loosen your belt one more notch and finish off your meal with a fried pie—peach, naturally. And on August 18, get another to go; all menu items will be just ninety cents.