Best of the Best: Say I Won’t

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Cathy Best

Cathy Best

By Cathy Best, Columnist

It’s lunchtime in Athens when I navigate my Ford Edge into the Varsity parking lot on the corner of Broad and Milledge. My visit to the ten-year-old institution ends a ten-year Varsity chili dog drought, give or take a few years.

On this day a detour to a more wholesome lunch spot would take a restraining order and straightjacket.

I didn’t greet the morning knowing I needed a chili dog but there I was marching myself up to the counter with a “say I won’t” attitude. Say I won’t have a chili dog, say I won’t have some homemade fries, and say I won’t regret it. In our family, “say I won’t” is considered a dare.

The response, from whoever hears the dare is: “you won’t do it.” I did do it and I don’t regret one heart-attack morsel. When I heard those three magic words, “what’ll ya have” I knew I would not wimp out and get the grilled chicken sandwich.

Yep, you read it here, it’s right there on the menu. No, I was having that chili dog, with mustard, cradled in the steamed bun. It’s worth months of denying myself any other treat.

The original Varsity Drive-in, in downtown Atlanta, has been in operation since 1928. Over the years it has grown to be the “largest drive-in restaurant in the world with seating for 800 inside and 600 car spots.” It’s locally known as the “lunching pad.”

If you dine in there’s a TV in each dining room running different programs. “According to Frank Gordy’s grandson, his grandfather loved technology and bought a television for the restaurant dining rooms as soon as they were available to the public.

Some Atlantans say the first time they ever saw a television was at the Varsity.” The Varsity chain includes eight locations in Georgia with its most recent store opening in Hartsfield International Airport.

Six mobile catering trucks cover metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Each customer that orders a Coca- Cola product, at the original location, helps maintain the longstanding world record of “more Coca-Cola sales per year than any other single restaurant in the world.”

I have to say, this Coke stat has me a little bumfuzzled. There’s the famous Frosted Orange drink competing on the menu and who doesn’t order that? Seriously. Nancy G. Simms, daughter of Varsity founder Frank Gordy now owns and operates the business.

Simms oversees a business that has only been closed one day in it’s storied history- the day of her father’s funeral in 1983. Today, eight locations serve “15,000 customers two miles of hotdogs, a ton of onions, 2,500 pounds of potatoes, 5,000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili daily. Delivery trucks arrive at the original store three to six times a day with fresh bread and meat products.”

“French fries, onion rings, fried pies, frosted orange, and chili are made from scratch daily.” If I’ve convinced you that you need a Varsity chili dog today have lunch at Crowe’s BBQ on the Eatonton Hwy. south of town. Phillip and Sandra serve their hotdogs with Varsity chili.

Say I won’t Best of the Best: Below you’ll find last week’s list of local retailers who carry a wide selection of scarves in an equally wide range of price points. Go ahead, follow the YouTube video listed below, and tie one on. Amelia’s: South Main Street Ava Alexander: West Washington Street BB&G (Belles Beaux & Gifts): South Main Street Charcoal Lane: South Main Street Laughing Moon: South Main Street Madison Markets: Academy Street Sartoria Monica (Knitting supplies to make your own scarf):  W Washington Street Teal Couture: East Jefferson Street Town and Country: East Washington Street How to tie a scarf: “Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!” Wendy’s Lookbook, To share what you’ve discovered contact Cathy @

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