Just outside of Atlanta, there's a one-of-a-kind Chick-fil-A restaurant that serves a full breakfast buffet. I went there, and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds.
If you really want to experience the best Georgia has to offer, you really have to get outside of Atlanta. Yeah, yeah, there are some pretty cool sites in A-Town -- drive-ins and superhero-themed pizza places and an entire museum dedicated to soda propaganda among them -- but outside the perimeter is where you will find all of the really, really noteworthy destinations.
For example, in Summerville, there is an outdoor museum dedicated solely to the artwork of Howard Finster, a probably psychopathic pastor whose portfolio consists almost entirely of apocalyptic paintings and sculptures of people with Down Syndrome heads. Similarly, Ashburn is home to the Crime and Punishment Museum, whose exhibits include a replica of electric chairs and authentic KKK apparel. It is adjoined by a local favorite restaurant, named, fittingly enough, the Last Meal Cafe. And under the penumbra of Stone Mountain, you will find Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation headquarters, which is home to a life-size bronzed statute of the beloved rapper/convicted racist.
Nestled in Woodstock is yet another must-stop "what-the?" roadside attraction ... or should I say "event," rather.
This one requires just a bit of a history lesson. You see, Chick-fil-A was not the first restaurant venture undertaken by Truett Cathy. Long before Chick-fil-A was a zygote of an idea, he opened a series of restaurants called the Dwarf House.
I'm not exactly 100 percent, certain but I am fairly sure the concept never made its way out of Georgia. Even now, however, the old buildings dot the outside-the-perimeter landscape, although almost all of them have since been rebranded as "official" Chick-fil-A businesses. Although I recall visiting one of the old-school Dwarf House restaurants as a kid, for the life of me, I can't really remember anything about the menu or even its general ambiance. This being the early 1990s, though, I assure you it was nothing like the modern, sanitary Chick-fil-A experience we all know and love -- I don't recall much about the brand, but I most certainly do recall the restaurants being dirty, dingy and very musty-smelling.
The restaurant in Woodstock is sort of a fusion concept -- basically, it appears to be a fairly new Chick-fil-A restaurant attached to the weathered remnants of an old Dwarf House establishment. I suppose the photographs do a good enough job of describing the general concept, but for the visually-impaired, it's basically just a red-brick facade with a bright red miniature door and something of a medieval cottage motif welded onto a modern-day restaurant space ... or is it the other way around?
The anteroom (that's one 1 percenters call a "lobby," in case you were wondering) is really a site to behold. It's hard to describe, but somehow,they managed to cram a to-scale midget-sized Hobbit house just inside the foyer, complete with min-stained glass windows and an operable door that the wee ones can actually run in and out of. Thankfully, they also put a deadbolt on that sucker, because you just know at some point, some nefarious crook or robber tried to squeeze himself through it during the off hours.
Of course, the entrance also has some of the expected Chick-fil-A signage, but for the most part, it doesn't feel anything at all like the average branded restaurant. I got REALLY excited seeing this castle door mock-up at the double doors, but as it turns out, that's not actually a normal decoration. According to one of the suspiciously well-groomed teenage employees, they put up the display to herald some sort of mother/son function, which, yeah, is just a wee bit on the creepy side.
As for the rest of the restaurant, it is more or less was your standard Chick-fil-A diner, albeit just a teensy bit larger than the average store. I visited the place on an early Saturday morning, and it was quite busy -- apparently, this particular branch also does breakfast buffets on Friday mornings and Thursday evenings, too.
So, after plopping down my $9.49 plus state and local taxes, I hit up the metal queue. If you are not familiar with how buffets work (and judging from just how surprisingly popular my write up on Golden Corral has been in developing countries, I am assuming that's quite a number of you), you pay a flat fee and eat a virtually unlimited amount of foodstuffs, which are constantly being replenished by sweaty chefs at breakneck speeds. So in short ... it's the most American thing that has ever existed, or ever will exist.
Comparatively, there wasn't a whole lot of variety offered this morning. All in all, I counted up nine different foodstuffs in the line-up, which is a pretty thin number, especially compared to competing chains like Shoney's, which generally offer enough all-you-can-eat goods to qualify as a miniature grocery store.
That said, you really can't argue with the quality of the food, though. Pretty much everything on tap was delicious, from the golden-flaky biscuits to the super crispy bacon to little sausage roll thingies. In addition to the home fries and scrambled eggs (the staple of any decent breakfast,) you also get a healthy amount of sides, including grits, chunky gravy and what appears to be apple cobbler. Of course, the big draw, of course, is the endless tray of chicken patties, which is pretty much reason enough to visit this place. No lie, folks: I ate ten of them, and almost throw up on the cashier woman while paying my meal ticket.
To be fair, Chick-fil-A is a pretty contentious business, and I would be telling you a flat out whopper if I said I wasn't just a smidge uncomfortable dining there. For one thing, there were a LOT of people doing scripture readings -- I mean, practice what you feel like practicing and all, but shit, what kind of glances do you think people would give me and my buddies if we decided to have a Koran study at Subway, or a dramatic reading of the Satanic Bible at Taco Bell? Secondly, there were a TON of cops in there. Like, at least three or four squad cars worth, and they were sharing a table with a gaggle of girls who could not have been older than juniors in high school. And also, one of them appeared to be Jewish, as evident by the Hebrew tattoos he had on his arm, which I am pretty sure is against Jewish teachings, now that I think about it. And then, there were the servers, who kept telling me it was "their pleasure" to serve me. Now, I know it's corporate policy and all, but I know you really don't give a hoot if I need a coffee refill -- and by the way, their proprietary brew is kinda' on the crappy side, too.
By their very nature, I think buffets are supposed to be kind of scummy. The waiters are supposed to be distant and despondent, providing you with just the bare minimum amount of interface to facilitate you giving them your credit card. Also, the lighting is supposed to be drab and dreary, to cover up the fact that you're eating food that likely has a bunch of fly eggs and eyelashes embedded in it, and that the utensils are just sorta washed. That kind of runs counterproductive to the entire Chick-fil-A corporate mantra, which is customer service and cleanliness ... the precise two things that buffets attempt to stamp out entirely.
Still, the experience is probably worth a detour if you are ever in the Atlanta area. It's a bit on the pricey side, but as stated before, it's basically your only opportunity to ever drop a dozen Chick-fil-a patties on one ceramic plate and tear into them in public without people thinking you are a feral child or something. And it's also astoundingly, ironically close to a sex toy outlet, which means God really does have a sense or humor (or at least, the planning commission in Woodstock really doesn't care about getting re-elected.)
So, to recap? If you like gluttony, processed poultry and people into Jesus, you'll probably really like this place. And if you're a vegetarian, an atheist, a homosexual, someone who is no longer married to his first wife or an individual ready to storm the offices of the Family Research Council? Well, there is a Del Taco pretty close by, I guess...