Blairsville Restaurant on Earnest Street
World Famous Blairsville Restaurant through the years
The World Famous Blairsville Restaurant has been around town a long time. It has changed owners, changed names, changed menus, and changed locations. Waitresses, cooks, kitchen helpers, and "regulars" have come, gone, and come back again.
Good food, fair prices, and friendly faces have made Blairsville Restaurant into a legendary hang-out. People have waited in line for Thursday's chicken dumplings, made friends with strangers, and became addicted to the coffee.
Local people have fond memories of working and dining at the restaurant. Roger Garrett says, "I would go in for lunch during the 70's and buy a hamburger with fries. The burgers were huge! If I was still hungry after my first one, they gave me my second one on the house. Not many people were ever able to finish two but I did." (This comes from a tall, skinny man with a hollow leg.)
For many, many years, the Blairsville Restaurant was located in the center of town at 90 Town Square where the popular "Hole in the Wall" Restaurant is now owned and operated by Mark Cox.
According to information provided by the Union County Historical Society, it all started back in the 1930's when Margie Henson started selling sandwiches out of her truck (or it may have been a trailer). Her efforts were so successful that she purchased the property from Pat Haralson and built the restaurant around 1940.
During the war years, "Blairsville Restaurant" did double duty as a Trailways Bus Stop where tickets were sold inside. It was also the last stop for local boys waiting for the bus to take them off to war (the draft board was next door in King's 5 and 10 cent store). The restaurant also served as a dentist office twice a year when Doc McDonald made his rounds. You could eat lunch and then get a tooth pulled.
Records show that many people have owned and/or managed the restaurant at that location (some while living in an apartment upstairs). Claude Butt, Bob and Zora Butt (at Butt's Café during WWII hamburgers were ten cents each), Jack and Annie Lou Rogers, Robert Head, Sr., Paul Gibson, J.C. and Margie Harkins, Clarence and Elizabeth Helton, Gail Romine, and Tom and Amy Harvey are some of the recorded names.
People remember crowding three deep into the booths and waitresses running back and forth from the kitchen. If customers didn't want a burger or sandwich, there was always fried chicken, green beans, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes with gravy.
The "split" (where one restaurant became two) came in 1985. At that time, the late Clarence Helton moved the "Blairsville Restaurant" name and all, to its new, larger location at 229 Earnest Street in the Carlton Colwell Building (although it wasn't long until the "Hole in the Wall" was doing business, too, at 90 Town Square).
The new "Blairsville Restaurant" facility on Earnest Street included a modern kitchen, a spacious dining area, and plenty of parking. Blairsville Restaurant received its "World Famous" designation at that time. Other owners have included James Harkins, the Brackens, and Carol Moss.
Now officially called the "Blairsville Downtown Grill," the restaurant at 229 Earnest Street is undergoing some innovative changes to accommodate today's tastes and health conscience attitudes. Owner Shanna Beavers believes in serving up fresh salads, grilled steaks, and lots of other classic favorites including seafood. A Blairsville-Union Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Friday, December 5, 2008 and the Grand Opening Celebration will last all day. See you there!
Many thanks go to Robert Butt, the late Georgia Sullivan, and Jack Rogers for providing information to the Historical Society, Joanne Sales for her contributions, and the Union County Historical Society for their help. Also thanks to the Union County Environmental Health Department for providing other pertinent information.