The Varsity, in Atlanta, Ga., started in 1928 selling affordable meals to students at Georgia Tech and quickly grew into a fast food institution. The world’s largest drive-in since the 1950’s, The Varsity’s menu has changed little since Frank Gordy opened its doors near downtown Atlanta. It has continually set records for its vast quantities of hot dogs, hamburgers, and onion rings served daily. The Varsity is where the term “carhop” was first used because servers hopped on the running boards to get orders quickly. In 1950 the restaurant had 100 car hops taking orders from customers in their cars.
Frank Gordy, who originally opened The Varsity, was a man with a $2000 nest egg and “million dollar taste buds.” Through his dedication to superior quality, he gained a reputation that is known worldwide. The Varsity has hosted well known people from the entertainment industry, the sports industry, the Governor’s mansion, the White House, as well as visitors from all over the globe. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all eaten there. Clark Gable ate their while waiting for the opening of Gone with the Wind. Even Elvis Presley dined there.
Today, the original Varsity has grown into a two-story restaurant with 8 sister locations and has truly become an Atlanta institution that still caters heavily to Georgia Tech students. On weekends when their football team is playing a home game, literally tens of thousands of people visit The Varsity. Each day two miles of hot dogs, a ton of onions, 2500 pounds of potatoes, 5000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili are made from scratch.
The Downtown Atlanta location, which is situated on more than two acres and can accommodate 600 cars and over 800 people inside, had a very old boiler that was critical to their business. The old steam boiler was used for virtually everything, from steaming the buns, to cooking the hot dogs, to heating the chili, etc. It was decided that a new steam boiler was required, and that the way to go was with a small footprint Series 900 Steam Boiler from Triad, fired with a Powerflame Modulating JR 30 burner.
This was a very compact boiler that easily fit into a tight location, yet was simple and easy to install -there was no interruption to business, and The Varsity continued to march on.