JULIETTE, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – The state of Georgia is now known as the “Hollywood of the South.” Many films have been produced in the state’s big cities and small towns. One restaurant in Middle Georgia is famous for its role on the big screen.
Juliette was once a bustling town known for its cotton mill and busy railroad.
Today, it’s quieter and has a slowed down, southern way of life, but it comes to life daily with every blowing whistle.
The Whistle Stop Cafe draws in locals and people from far, far away – whether that be across the state, the nation or the globe.
Elizabeth Bryant, current owner of the cafe, says “people come in, and they’re just amazed, because they feel like they’ve gone back in time.”
The Whistle Stop Cafe in Middle Georgia is most famous for its role in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” – a dish that’s now a staple of the restaurant!
The setting of the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” takes place in Alabama during the 1920’s, but much of it was actually filmed in Juliette at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
The 1991 film focuses on characters whose names are all too familiar in the small town: Idgie Threadgoode, Ruth Jamison, Big George and Frank Bennett.
You can see the lasting impact these names have had on the community, and you can even order up Bennett’s barbecue at the cafe. Just remember, the secret’s in the sauce!
The building that houses the restaurant now, dates back to the 1920’s and for almost 50 years, it wasn’t used as a cafe.
Bryant says the building was originally used as a general merchandise store. “Mr. E.L. Williams built it and ran it as a merchandise until it was no longer needed for the area,” adds Bryant.
The state formed a tourism industry in the late 1980’s and courted Hollywood for film production in locations across Georgia.
Shortly after, E.L. Williams General Merchandise was transformed into the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Frankie Williams is the grandson of E.L. Williams. His uncle, Robert, is responsible for making the Whistle Stop Cafe a real, working restaurant following the film’s release.
“I think [visitors] come for the Whistle Stop, but once they get here, they enjoy the down home atmosphere,” says Williams.
Just like all the characters from “Fried Green Tomatoes”, you too can relax and enjoy life at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Bryant says visitors are encouraged to give up their fast-paced lives while visiting the cafe. “You’ve just got to slow down, and you can almost keep up with the trains,” she says.
On McCracken Street, the Whistle Stop Cafe stands prominent alongside the railroad. The neighboring buildings include a winery, antiques shop, gift shop and other places for visitors to stop in and purchase souvenirs or other items.
During the last weekend of October, Juliette will host its annual “Green Tomato Festival” featuring street vendors, local artists and different field workers. The Whistle Stop Cafe will also be selling its famous fried green tomatoes and other specialty dishes.
The Whistle Stop Cafe is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant is only closed on New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.