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Column: Deciding where to eat was a pleasant problem to have in Hall County
Johnny Vardeman

Local Facebook users have been reminiscing about their favorite restaurants in days gone by.

The topic has generated a proliferation of posts of past popular eating places around Hall County.

Often mentioned are such businesses as L&K Cafeteria on Broad Street/Jesse Jewell Parkway, Clore’s on North Bradford Street in downtown Gainesville, Ronnie and Carol Lance’s Beef Corral on Atlanta Highway and Sycamore Street, now E.E. Butler Parkway.

Who could forget those hoecake-sized biscuits at Frazier’s on Gainesville’s west side? Carisa Gillespie Burch wrote that she used to make 800 to 1,000 biscuits on Friday and Saturday mornings when she worked there.

Professor’s on Thompson Bridge Road specialized in custom baked potatoes. The Georgianna Restaurant on Atlanta Highway was a Sunday after-church favorite, famous for its fried chicken.

There were both a Western Sizzlin’ on Washington Street and a Western Steer on Broad Street/Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Mr. Pizza on Atlanta Highway perhaps was the first pizza place in Hall, though others have included AAA Pizza, Godfather’s, Mazzios, Pasquale’s, Ferris Wheel and Squeaky’s.

Among longtime eateries still serving are the venerable Collegiate in downtown Gainesville and Jay-Lou’s at the end of Pine Street.

Ice cream places also served up chili dogs, burgers and other fast food. They included the Brazier across from City Park in Gainesville, the Polar Girl, whose building still stands on Atlanta Highway, the Dairy Dip, Bill’s Dairy Boy on Browns Bridge Road, the Dairy Mart across from the old South Hall High School and the Dairy Spot near Quillians Corner, also still in business.

Old Hickory Restaurant on Dawsonville Highway got a lot of Facebook mentions, as did the Roundhouse. The old Big Bear Café on Cleveland Highway is remembered by many, especially its building, which has housed other businesses and still stands next to Johnny’s Barbecue.

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Big Bear Cafe sat on Cleveland Road in Gainesville. Photo courtesy Johnny Vardeman

A number of restaurants have graced Lakeshore Mall, including Morrison’s, Knickers and Picadilly. Lakeshore Restaurant, located next to the bowling alley, preceded the mall itself.

Bamboo Gardens with its genial hosts, John and Hellen Liang, was once a popular spot on Dawsonville Highway.

How about the Brookton Catfish School in the old Brookton School, which also was the site of the first Brookton Chicken Pie Suppers? Those became the Wauka Mountain Chicken Pie Suppers, but are now missed by the hundreds who flocked to them about this time of year.

Go way back, and there are those who loved the Avion Restaurant in the motel by the same name, run by Jack McKibbon. It featured drive-in service at its Broad Street location.

Another popular drive-in was Nicholson’s near Alta Vista Cemetery, as was Doug’s on Atlanta Highway.

The Dixie-Hunt Hotel, now Hunt Tower in Gainesville’s downtown, had its own restaurant and coffee shop. Other restaurants have come and gone, including The Hunt and the Brass Register. Luna’s now serves customers on the ground floor of Hunt Tower.

More restaurants long-timers chatted about included the Cake Box on Thompson Bridge Road, Woolworth’s lunch counter, Peeches, the Elks Club, Happy Pappy’s, Gertrude’s in the Holiday Inn, Bar-Joe’s in Murrayville, the Kool Kone, Quillians Grill, Maxey’s, Dry Dock in the Gym of ‘36, Holly’s Landing near Holly Park off Thompson Bridge Road, Cattleman’s, Wishbone, the Elks Club, Rudolph’s on Green Street, Bonanza, Ruby’s Diner, Pirkle’s on South Main Street, Forrester’s on Myrtle/MLK Drive and Turnstile Deli.

Perhaps overlooked were the Mayflower at the corner of Broad and Main, and later, the Imperial on Atlanta Highway, both operated by Ethel and Jimmy Caras. Mama Ruth’s on Atlanta Highway was also popular.

And don’t forget about the Athens Street Café, Bishop’s Café, the Blue Front Café, Chew & Chat, the Cookie Jar and Flying Cookie Jar, Dill’s Grill, Dixie Café, Princeton Coffee Shop, Maxey’s Café, Midway Café on South Main Street, Steak House on Atlanta Road, Southern Café on South Main Street, Henry O’s on West Spring Street and Tanner’s Café on Industrial Boulevard.

Undoubtedly, my incomplete list will prompt other recollections. North Georgia now probably has the best variety of eating places ever. But, that doesn’t keep your mouth from watering thinking about those oldies but goodies that once tantalized your taste buds.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, or His column publishes weekly.

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