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Twelve Restaurant Chains That Got Their Start in Atlanta

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Like it or not, chain restaurants reign supreme on the American dining scene, and Atlanta is no exception. Whether fast food or full-service, breakfast, lunch, or late night, Atlanta's contributions in the chain restaurant realm include regional, national, and even global brands. Here are twelve homegrown Atlanta chains (and a few extras with Atlanta connections) that give new meaning to the idea of eating locally.
John Mishler


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Chick-fil-A

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The classic Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich with waffle fries is nothing short of its own food group in Atlanta, not to mention the hand-spun milkshakes and the array of sauces perfect for pairing with Chick-fil-A nuggets. The original Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville features menu items not seen elsewhere, like the Hot Brown: a hash of chicken, chicken gravy, cheese, and bacon served with two slices of bread. [Photo]

Moe's Southwest Grill

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A large sign along Peachtree Road in Buckhead identifies a small yellow building as the home of “The Very First Moe’s on Earth.” Chips and salsa come complimentary, and Mondays make Moe’s especially popular when a burrito meal at many locations is priced between 5 and 6 dollars. [Photo]

Waffle House

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An indisputable Atlanta icon since 1955, Waffle House traces its roots to a modest storefront in Avondale Estates that is now the Waffle House Museum. Road trip fuel or recovery aid, every Waffle House but the outpost in Turner Field is open 24 hours a day to satisfy that craving for hashbrowns, cheese n’ eggs, or waffles. [Photo]

Taco Mac Sports Grill

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Buffalo wings— not tacos— are what put Taco Mac on the map. The original location at the corner of Virginia and North Highland was previously a taco stand, and the chain's founders simply never changed the name, but instead grew into it, now offering not just wings, but guacamole, nachos, plenty of beer, and even tacos. [Photo]

Great American Cookies

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A staple of mall food courts across the country, Great American Cookies’s first shop opened in Atlanta’s own Perimeter Mall, offering a chocolate chip cookie based on an old family recipe. Cookies, cookie cakes, and brownies are baked fresh daily in almost 300 stores. [Photo]

Mellow Mushroom

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An old liquor store in Downtown Atlanta became the first Mellow Mushroom, a joint venture between three college students, in 1974. A wide selection of craft and local beers complements specialty pizzas like the Magical Mystery Tour, featuring mushrooms and jalapenos, and the Mellowterranean, with feta cheese, black olives, and tzatziki sauce. [Photo]

Huddle House

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Founded in Decatur in 1964, Huddle Houses now dot the landscape of small towns all across the state of Georgia and beyond, as far north as Fargo, North Dakota. The specialty at Huddle House is breakfast— served all day— but Chop House burgers and BIG House sandwich combos offer hearty options for lunch and dinner. [Photo]

Ted's Montana Grill

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Founded by and named for Atlanta media mogul Ted Turner, a bison is not only the full-service chain’s logo, but also the backbone of its menu. Bison nachos, bison meatloaf, bison steaks, bison chili, and, of course, bison burgers showcase the restaurant’s signature item. [Photo]

Applebee's

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Opened in 1980 as T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs, an Applebee’s still stands— albeit in a new building— on the site of the original Memorial Drive location in Decatur. There are now over 2,000 Applebee’s restaurants worldwide, each billing itself as a “neighborhood bar & grill” and serving up specials like the 2 for $20 appetizer and entrée deal. [Photo]

The Flying Biscuit Cafe

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Not surprisingly, biscuits take center stage here, with each location churning out an average of 5,000 every week. Breakfast is on the menu all day, including at the Candler Park original, which has expanded three times since its 1993 debut. [Photo]

Taqueria del Sol

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Combining fast food service and gourmet ingredients, Taqueria del Sol draws from both Southern cooking and traditional Mexican fare in crafting its offerings. Fried chicken and brisket tacos, shrimp corn chowder, and jalapeno coleslaw are consistent favorites. [Photo]

Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint

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The newest addition to this list of Atlanta chains, Uncle Maddio’s is also one of the fastest growing, with plans in development to open over 130 additional stores. The create-your-own pizza shop that calls itself the “Chipotle of pizza” got its start in a Toco Hills strip mall in 2009. [Photo]

Extra: Zaxby's

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Founded in Statesboro in 1991 and now based just outside of Athens, Texas Toast, Chicken Fingerz, Birthday Cake Milkshakes, and the “indescribably good” Zax Sauce stand out on the menu at this Georgia original. [Photo]

Extra: Krystal

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Krystal isn’t a true Atlanta product, but made headlines when it announced in late 2012 it would move its headquarters from Chattanooga to Dunwoody. The classic, slider-style Krystal burger dominates the fast food chain’s menu, but chicken and breakfast sausages also top the bite-size buns. [Photo]

Extra: Teavana

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Though coffee giant Starbucks now owns Teavana, acquired in 2012 for a whopping $620 million, the first name in American tea culture traces its roots to Phipps Plaza, where its first store selling teas and related accessories opened in 1997. Starbucks has plans to open at least 1,000 Teavana tea bars across the globe, with CEO Howard Schultz saying, “We’ll do for tea what we’ve done for coffee.” [Photo]

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Chick-fil-A

The classic Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich with waffle fries is nothing short of its own food group in Atlanta, not to mention the hand-spun milkshakes and the array of sauces perfect for pairing with Chick-fil-A nuggets. The original Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville features menu items not seen elsewhere, like the Hot Brown: a hash of chicken, chicken gravy, cheese, and bacon served with two slices of bread. [Photo]

Moe's Southwest Grill

A large sign along Peachtree Road in Buckhead identifies a small yellow building as the home of “The Very First Moe’s on Earth.” Chips and salsa come complimentary, and Mondays make Moe’s especially popular when a burrito meal at many locations is priced between 5 and 6 dollars. [Photo]

Waffle House

An indisputable Atlanta icon since 1955, Waffle House traces its roots to a modest storefront in Avondale Estates that is now the Waffle House Museum. Road trip fuel or recovery aid, every Waffle House but the outpost in Turner Field is open 24 hours a day to satisfy that craving for hashbrowns, cheese n’ eggs, or waffles. [Photo]

Taco Mac Sports Grill

Buffalo wings— not tacos— are what put Taco Mac on the map. The original location at the corner of Virginia and North Highland was previously a taco stand, and the chain's founders simply never changed the name, but instead grew into it, now offering not just wings, but guacamole, nachos, plenty of beer, and even tacos. [Photo]

Great American Cookies

A staple of mall food courts across the country, Great American Cookies’s first shop opened in Atlanta’s own Perimeter Mall, offering a chocolate chip cookie based on an old family recipe. Cookies, cookie cakes, and brownies are baked fresh daily in almost 300 stores. [Photo]

Mellow Mushroom

An old liquor store in Downtown Atlanta became the first Mellow Mushroom, a joint venture between three college students, in 1974. A wide selection of craft and local beers complements specialty pizzas like the Magical Mystery Tour, featuring mushrooms and jalapenos, and the Mellowterranean, with feta cheese, black olives, and tzatziki sauce. [Photo]

Huddle House

Founded in Decatur in 1964, Huddle Houses now dot the landscape of small towns all across the state of Georgia and beyond, as far north as Fargo, North Dakota. The specialty at Huddle House is breakfast— served all day— but Chop House burgers and BIG House sandwich combos offer hearty options for lunch and dinner. [Photo]

Ted's Montana Grill

Founded by and named for Atlanta media mogul Ted Turner, a bison is not only the full-service chain’s logo, but also the backbone of its menu. Bison nachos, bison meatloaf, bison steaks, bison chili, and, of course, bison burgers showcase the restaurant’s signature item. [Photo]

Applebee's

Opened in 1980 as T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs, an Applebee’s still stands— albeit in a new building— on the site of the original Memorial Drive location in Decatur. There are now over 2,000 Applebee’s restaurants worldwide, each billing itself as a “neighborhood bar & grill” and serving up specials like the 2 for $20 appetizer and entrée deal. [Photo]

The Flying Biscuit Cafe

Not surprisingly, biscuits take center stage here, with each location churning out an average of 5,000 every week. Breakfast is on the menu all day, including at the Candler Park original, which has expanded three times since its 1993 debut. [Photo]

Taqueria del Sol

Combining fast food service and gourmet ingredients, Taqueria del Sol draws from both Southern cooking and traditional Mexican fare in crafting its offerings. Fried chicken and brisket tacos, shrimp corn chowder, and jalapeno coleslaw are consistent favorites. [Photo]

Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint

The newest addition to this list of Atlanta chains, Uncle Maddio’s is also one of the fastest growing, with plans in development to open over 130 additional stores. The create-your-own pizza shop that calls itself the “Chipotle of pizza” got its start in a Toco Hills strip mall in 2009. [Photo]

Extra: Zaxby's

Founded in Statesboro in 1991 and now based just outside of Athens, Texas Toast, Chicken Fingerz, Birthday Cake Milkshakes, and the “indescribably good” Zax Sauce stand out on the menu at this Georgia original. [Photo]