Top 10 Oldest Restaurants in Atlanta

Top 10 Oldest Restaurants in Atlanta

February is History month. Thus inspired, I began to research the oldest restaurants in Atlanta and their stories.  You shouldn’t be shocked that many of these places still specialize in creating traditional Southern and Soul food fare with traditions that have been passed down through owners and the love of neighbors that keep these historical icons open. Stop by today at any of them and experience a slice of Atlanta’s history. These are truly one of a kind from food to experience, as only Atlanta can do it.

Atkins Park Restaurant and BarAtkin's Park Restaurant and Bar Historical Picture

Oldest continuously licensed establishment in Atlanta. Originally opened in 1922 as a Delicatessen, the current owners took over in 1983. Expanded to its current two locations, these venues are considered smart-casual restaurants serving upscale comfort cuisine. Enjoy a family dining experience with patio included, that serves very late food and drinks. Comfort food definitely makes up the menu from chicken pancake sandwiches to burgers and wings.

The Colonnade RestaurantThe Colonnade Restaurant Historical Picture

Founded in 1927 in a small, white columned house on the corner of Piedmont and Lindbergh, this restaurant thrived until it lost its lease in 1962. Frank Tarleton the original owner moved locations at that time to what is now The Colonnade Restaurant. Customers followed him to the new location without a hitch. In 1979, the current owners (The Jones Family) took over. It was expanded in 1982 to its current size. This restaurant started out offering traditional Southern-style “soul” fare and 91 years later the same food traditions can still be enjoyed.

The VarsityThe Varsity Historical Picture

Gordy family operated and owned since 1928, originally named “The Yellow Jacket”. First located at the corner of Luckie and Hemphill in Midtown Atlanta, eventually grew into the current day six locations. With $1860, Frank Gordy leased a house and built a brick building 14’ x 35’ in the front yard. With a walk up window, he took advantage of the foot traffic from a local trolley stop and set up six counter seats inside. He was an instant success, serving 300 people his first day. At the time, hot dogs could be had for $0.05.

Little’s Food StoreLittle's Food Store

The Little Family opened this grocery in 1929. In 1941, it moved to Carroll St and operated there until 2005. Brad and Nina Cunard launched the current resurrection of this establishment a few years after. Struggling in the years since due to gentrification, a huge campaign was launched to get funds to buy out its building so they could keep the restaurant, grocery, and historical museum operational. Today they serve burgers, hot dogs, and groceries. Burgers can be had for as low as $2.99 and is reminiscent of the original burgers made here.

The MajesticThe Majestic, one of the oldest restaurants in Atlanta

Opened in 1929, it is part of the complex that became the city’s first strip mall. Stepping inside the Majestic today is like stepping back in time, into an era when car culture first began to hit the streets of Georgia. The Majestic with its neighboring movie theater and grocery was a hot spot to be in the days when cruising was a pastime. The Majestic is the Waffle House before there were Waffle Houses. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, serving up breakfast all day long.

Horseradish GrillHorseradish Grill

Opened in the 1930’s, this is the oldest continuously run establishment in Atlanta. John Adam Langford purchased 200 acres of farmland, growing a variety of crops. The original store was small and made of stone, selling canned goods, flour and other staples. This store was demolished to expand a nearby road. Later on, a relative built another building near the original. This owner made a country grocer that also sold hot dogs and hamburgers. This is the site of today’s venues bar area.

Mary Mac’s Tea RoomMary Mac's Tea Room Historical Picture

Opened in 1945, this is the oldest female owned and operated restaurant in the Atlanta area, and the only one of the original 16 tea rooms of that time to still exist.  In the post World War II era, Mary McKenzie wanted to open a venue to serve her homemade Southern food, but since women weren’t exactly allowed to open and run restaurants, she opened a tea room, something more genteel (and accepted) serving the same food as she would have in a restaurant.  It originally started as a single dining room, before expanding to its current six rooms and full service bar.

Busy Bee CaféBusy Bee Cafe

In 1947, Lucky Jackson opened Busy Bee Café. The name is inspired by two experiences. The first from a trip to California where she saw a bee on a sign. The second from a visit from a female missionary, who was so pleased with the owner’s kindness and food that she blessed the restaurant and left the hope that it would always be busy with business. Lucky eventually retired and sold the establishment which changed hands a couple times until the current owner. However, the same style of food and traditions still exist.

Moe’s and Joe’s TavernMoe's and Joe's Tavern Historical Picture

In 1947, a couple years after World War II, two brothers Moe and Joe Krinsky opened a tavern in Virginia-Highlands that served cold beer, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Situated a hop-and-skip away from Dekalb county line, at the time a dry county, the location certainly helped with their early success. While there have been a few facelifts and owners, the place is still known as for settling in to enjoy a cold one over a hot dog, hamburger or wings.

Pascal’s RestaurantPascal's Restaurant Historical Image

In 1947, James and Robert Pascal opened their 30 seat restaurant, serving soda and sandwiches. They quickly grew and expanded to serve hot food as well. Hot food at the time was difficult, they had no stove or car, meaning all hot food was made at their house and brought to the restaurant by taxi. As they continued to expand, they focused on becoming known for the best fried chicken in the city, thus they created a secret recipe, which is still a secret today, and created some fried chicken still considered some of the finest.


Didn’t see one of your favorite restaurants in Atlanta on the list? Check out our Twitter and let us know which restaurants we missed. Or visit us on Facebook and leave a comment if you’d like to see more lists for different areas in the Atlanta area!

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