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Barrow Countians who may be pining for The Varsity since the fast-food restaurant chain closed its iconic Athens location last month won’t have to go very far for their next serving of chili dogs and onion rings. In fact, they won’t even have to cross county lines.

The company officially announced this week it will open a new location on Exchange Boulevard at The Gateway development along Highway 316. A Barrow County location for the famous restaurant, founded in Atlanta in 1928, had long been rumored, but officials have confirmed in social media posts that ground will be broken “soon” at The Gateway. The company also announced a new location on Parkway Boulevard in Oconee County.

The Gordy family, who own The Varsity, in 2012 purchased a 1-acre parcel that is now part of The Gateway and is near the corner of Exchange Boulevard and Exchange Circle, situated in front of the AMC movie theater. The parcel, which has remained undeveloped, is located within the City of Winder, though it is being marketed by the company as being in unincorporated Bethlehem. 

The Varsity, which has a handful of locations across metro Atlanta and north Georgia — including its main location on North Avenue across from the Georgia Tech campus — was also a longstanding institution in Athens dating back to 1932 and at the corner of West Broad Street and Milledge Avenue since 1964.

Late this spring, though, the restaurant announced the Athens location would be closing, and the final order was served June 20. The building is now set for an upcoming demolition to make way for a long-planned mixed-use development that reportedly is proposed to include a Publix and apartment units.


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