If you hear that when you walk in the door, you know you are at The Varsity, Atlanta’s iconic counter service restaurant, and you might know just what to do. Hurry, read the menu, line up, tell the person smiling and shouting at you what you’ll have, listen to your order being translated (Mary Brown Steak with Strings, anyone?), and hang on for a wild ride. If you haven’t been there, you need to go – but maybe watch and learn before you jump in to order. That’s what I did, but I still got nervous ordering my hot dog with chili and mustard (which is just a “hot dog” in Varsity lingo – who knew?).
Going somewhere new with a different service model can be, well, a little unnerving. We here at What’s Cookin’ Downtown use a “Quick Service” model in The Restaurant to help get our delicious food to you the hungry and discerning customer as efficiently as possible. We don’t want you to be nervous – life’s tough enough! Here’s how you do quick service so you can study up:
1. Check out the menu board on the wall behind the cashier or read one of our printed menus. Some customers study the website menu before coming in. (Overachievers are welcome here, too!)
You can jump right in line if you are ready when you walk in the door, or you can stand by the beer-and-soda cooler, take your time, peruse the menu, think about what you are really hungry for, read the specials listed on the board, wait for your friends – then get in the cashier’s line when you are ready to order.
2. Order at the register. The cashier will smile at you and ask “What can we get for you today?” or maybe ask if you have any questions if you look new (yes, we can tell!). Once you place your order, the cashier will give you a number to take to your table, you will pay the cashier, and then you get your silverware and your beverage at the drink counter.
3. Then it’s off to find a table that you like! Maybe you will sit outside and watch downtown Aiken go by the window, or maybe you and your family will sit near the Kid’s Corner – easy access to toys, crayons, and the high chairs. Or you could sit so you can see a favorite painting or photo in the gallery spaces.
4. Then we bring you your food and condiments (we know where you are because you got that number at the register, remember?), and you can help yourself to beverage refills.
And when you are done, you’re done. We’ll come to bus the tables. You can go. No waiting for your check. Or you can also go to The Shop right next door and see if there are any desserts you might like to try, or perhaps a casserole to heat up in your oven for supper. You might get hungry later, you know.
So, that’s how it works. We are quick service, but we are not fast food. Good, fresh food cooked to order takes a little time, and we strive to get it to your table as fast as possible. Or should I say as “quick” as possible. Except that is grammatically incorrect. Oh, well.
We hope you enjoy your meal with us and come back for more!
And if you’re ever in Atlanta around lunch time, go tell them at The Varsity what you’ll have. That’s an experience everybody should "have."