Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alpharetta's Dixie Diner

The Dixie Diner had been an Alpharetta icon since 1964. You could walk in on any given morning and find an eclectic mix of locals from farmers to businessmen... all sharing in some coffee and some comfort food to help them jump start their busy day.

I'd been meaning to photograph the diner since I began this project in 2007. But, by the time I made my way back to Alpharetta from California, the diner was gone. One of Alpharetta's last ties to its small-town country past finally gave up the ghost to progress and development.

The empty lot has since been paved, but nothing has moved in to take its place. So, I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather and walked from Wills Park up to the sacred spot where The Dixie Diner once stood. It was a beautiful morning, and I was rewarded with the gentle scent of honeysuckle and the delicate white flowers of wild blackberry growing on the side of the road. Everything was covered in morning dew, and the sun was just beginning to peek above the treeline.

To truly understand why I took a photograph of an empty lot, one would have to know The Dixie Diner... or at least have fond memories of a beloved old diner in their own hometown. Just like the smell of a warm apple pie can bring back childhood memories of your grandmother baking in the kitchen, a photograph of a favorite place can conjure up its own memories of good times and good friends long forgotten.

I wish I could provide you an old photograph of the Dixie Diner from its heyday, but all I could dig up was a shot of the original building, back when it was a Jolly Chef. Yet another reason The Vanishing America Project is so important... Without photos and stories as reminders, the memories of Alpharetta's Dixie Diner will fade away with the passing of each generation.


Anonymous said...

I am born and bred Alpharetta and am very sad to say that I never stepped inside the Dixie Diner. It was a pretty "famous" spot though. On a small scale, it would be like living in the same town as Graceland, and never going in.

You are right though, I wish I had a picture of it - even though I never had breakfast there, it is a part of my history. I googled it and there was a picture of it, but it was a picture of it after one of its remodels - not the original.

Do you remember the Bargain Store next door. On the side of the building they spelled it Bargin! It was spelled like that for years.

I don't remember the Jolly Chef, but I do rember the Jolly Giant where KFC and Taco Bell are now. It was a little grocery where I used to get my candy. I would love to have a picture of that. Memories cab be faulty.

Sorry for such a long post, but this brought up some good memories.


Holt Webb said...

I remember the "Bargin" Store, the little mechanical horse that you could ride for a dime... I remember Parson's Ace Hardware, and I used to bag groceries at Food Giant. There were the remnants of a drive-in theater next door.

Do you remember Stovall's Market, farther north up Highway 9?

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about the old drive-in remnants. Remember in the Food Giant parking lot there was a super-small photo place to drop off and pick up film? It was as small or smaller than a toll booth towards the back of the lot.

I don't remember Stovall's. I do remember Phillips Variety (both locations) and the antique cash register ran by the lady who was always there. And if you went in the back to look at the toys, she always followed you back there.

I had forgotten about Parsons too. Now that you mention it I can picture inside - one side of the store you had to walk up a few steps. You could park in the front or the back!

WooleyBugger said...

Being a Georgia boy myself until relocating to North Carolina, I can relate to the missing diner in a way. I took my son to Smyrna where I was born to show him the house we lived in until I was five. We were only able to find it because of my fathers dusty memory of the area that has changed but hasn't.
Great blog.

Holt Webb said...

Thanks Wooley. :-)

Stirring up fond memories to pass on to future generations is a big part of what The Vanishing America Project is about.

Rusty said...

Hey Holt,
Don't forget about Bates & Woods grocery store next to the Bargin store. Little Giant was the one across the street where KFC/Taco bell are now. I bagged at Bates & Woods in 1985. They actually still kept an old credit system, no credit cards but Peggy Bates would keep a note pad of charges & people would come in & charge their groceries then settle up later in the month. You can't find that anywhere these days. We used to cut thru the woods from my grandmothers house on Canton st then cross hwy 9 to go to Stovalls, picking up coke bottles along the way in the woods (back when you could get 5-10cents for them) then get enough to buy a yoohoo & candy.

Holt Webb said...

Right on Rusty! :)
I'd forgotten about that. And you're right... you don't see the old-school "credit" system anymore (unless you're watching an old western).

We used to cut through the woods to go to Stovall's, too. Check out the interview I did with Mrs. Stovall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M09wRL2Y3E

JCC850 said...

My grandmother ran Phillips Variety (Dimp Phillips) for almost 50 years, we'll into her 90s. She passed away last year at the full age of 93. My grandfather used to joke she hadn't turned a profit since the Carter Administration but it was a labor of love & kept her going.

As a kid we used to walk across Highway 9 from her store to the old drugstore (now City Hall) and get burgers & milkshakes at the counter in the back.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I am Peggy Bates granddaughter and I grew up playing Bates and Wood Grocery and eating push up pops. I was trying to find pictures of the store when I came across this. Thank you so much, I just wish my kids could know Alpharetta the way I did.

Holt Webb said...

My pleasure, Jessica. :) Sorry it took so long to get this posted.