The Varsity turns 90: A look back at photos and history through the decades


The Varsity turns 90: A look back at photos and history through the decades

 The Varsity turns 90 years old in August 2018! On Aug. 18, the restaurant will celebrate with food, music and special guests. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Before The Varsity, there was this at North Avenue & Luckie Street. Gordy called it "The Yellow Jacket" and it came to be known by the Gordy family years later as the Varsity's training ground (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In 1928 with a $1,860 nest egg, Frank Gordy leased a house at 55 North Avenue, and constructed a small brick building in its front yard. He felt he could take advantage of the foot traffic from the nearby trolley stop. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

The ledger of account from the first 4 months of The Varsity's operation notes its immediate success. On the 1st day of business, while hot dogs only cost 5 cents, the business made $47.30. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

On March 11, 1932 Gordy opened his 2nd Varsity restaurant in Athens, across the street from the Arch at UGA. Gordy had a vision that he could repeat his formula by opening restaurants on major college campuses.

 (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

John Railford began working at The Varsity in 1937. His flamboyant mannerisms earned him the nickname "Flossie Mae." Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl gave him a hat & he started decorating them. He sang the menu, too. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Gordy expanded his business. He added on to the original building, opening a barbershop in November 1928. By 1930, Gordy had expanded again, moving the barbershop over & putting a bowling alley in the old shop location.(Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Frank Gordy pictured here with his wife Evelyn on their honeymoon in 1930. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In the 40s, The Varsity underwent a major makeover. The concept was designed to make the building look as streamlined as teh cars now pulling in for service. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

While the great majority of The Varsity's business continued to be outside in its parking lot, the new design helped provide more counter space for customers to stand and eat inside.  (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In 1948, television was still in its infancy. WSB TV went on air September 19, 1948, in Atlanta, and Gordy Felt his customers should be able to watch it as it grew. Gordy installed a TV in one of the dining rooms.  (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

By 1950, The Varsity had claimed the title of The World's Largest Drive-In. "Meet Me at The Varsity" was catching on. This 1951 Holiday Magazine picture offers a glimpse of a typical weekend. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

A view of The Varsity in the 50s. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Erby Walker was another famous Varsity employee. He started working in 1952 at the age of 15 and worked for 55 years. When he started, he didn't ask how much he would make but rather how many hot dogs he could eat. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

After the state took much of the parking lot for highway construction, Gordy built "The Lunching Pad" with 100 parking spots. Once built, the restaurant could handle 630 cars. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

The 1960s brought another remodel of The Varsity's exterior. The plan called for panels made of six gauge steel with a baked enamel finish to be attached to the existing building. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

The world was changing in 1962 and with more UGA students having cars, Gordy opened The Varsity Drive-in as the students ventured further from campus.It opened exactly 32 years after the original Athens location. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Gordy opens The Varsity Jr. on Lindbergh Avenue in 1965 It was one of John Portman's first designs. It closed for good in 2010 after 45 years of operation. following a zoning dispute with the city. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Field trips to The Varsity by Atlanta area schoolchildren have been a tradition since the 1960s. The photograph here shows the arrival of a group of students from Lovett School in Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

The Varsity did not have enough storage to keep up with the volume of food it was serving. Gordy implemented the motto, "No food over 12 hours old", meaning whatever a customer ate had arrived less than 12 hours earlier.

In 1983, Frank Gordy lost with battle with emphysema and died. The Varsity closed the day he was buried, the first time it had closed for a day in 55 years. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Nancy Gordy Simms, daughter of Frank Gordy, began training to run The Varsity in the early 1980s under the watchful eye or longtime manager Ed Minix. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

Three generations are photographed here during The Varsity's 60th anniversary celebration in 1988. From left to right, Carrie Muir Browne, Nancy Gordy Simms, and Evelyn Gordy-Rankin. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In 1990, the first new Varsity in more than 20 years opened its doors in Gwinnettt County with a third generation Gordy at the helm. Gordon Muir was the manager. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In 1999, The Varsity opens in Kennesaw. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

An aerial view of The Varsity in the 80s. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)

In 2011, The Varsity opened in Dawsonville. (Photo courtesy of The Varsity)


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