You will all be happy to learn Sweetums won back all his Best Husband points (the ones he lost when he drove right past the Laura Ingalls Wilder House on our honeymoon without waking me up) … and he did it by reading a billboard.
For years, I had been planning to visit the Whistle Stop Café, the place where the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” was filmed in 1991. I knew the building that had served as the café in the film had been turned into a real restaurant called the Whistle Stop Café. Turns out, there was so much I didn’t know … and I was born not far from there in Warner Robins, Georgia. There is actually an entire tiny town called Juliette, Ga., and much of the movie was filmed there. Not only that, but some props and buildings created specifically for the film are still there, including the brick façade of a bank building (now a general store) and the “grave” of Buddy’s arm, which was lost in the movie in a train accident.
So, let me back up and give you some backstory.
“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café,” Fannie Flagg’s novel on which the film was based, is set in Alabama. She based the Whistle Stop Café on her great aunt’s restaurant called “The Irondale Café” in Irondale, Ala. As described in the book, it serves some fantastic fried green tomatoes.
I adored the book and all of Fannie Flagg’s writing (In fact, the highlights of my life include interviewing Fannie for my book “Christmas Tales of Alabama,” meeting her and having her tell me she loved my book AND getting this comparison in a Kirkus review for my book “Not Quite Right:” “Fans of Fannie Flagg should be overjoyed to discover the rustic, lighthearted musings of this Southern writer, who enchants with keen, droll observations and needlepoint wisdom.”)
So when Sweetums and I were in Georgia visiting family last week and passed a billboard on I-75 advertising the Whistle Stop Café, I told him visiting it had been on my bucket list for years. He promptly turned off the interstate and we were surprised to find the café was only 10 miles out of the way.
When we drove onto a small “main street” and saw rows of houses and businesses used in “Fried Green Tomatoes,” I was in my happy place. It was like being in the movie. We didn’t get to eat at the café because the wait was an hour and a half. Apparently, all these years later, it is still that popular. The building was an old general store built in 1927 that was turned into a café for the film and it is still painted as it was in the film. The words “Fried Green Tomatoes Served Hot” are on the front window. Inside, it looks just as it did in the movie, only bustling with modern-day families enjoying the atmosphere.
Here’s a synopsis of the town from ExploreGeorgia.com:
“Juliette was a bustling railroad community during the early 1900s. Over time, as the railroad industry declined, Juliette was nearly forgotten until 1991 when movie producers for the film ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ discovered Juliette and reconstructed the existing buildings into the fictional community of Whistle Stop. Today, Juliette is a vibrant community where you step onto the movie set and have a plate of fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café right where Idgie sat (11-4 daily). After enjoying a delicious meal, stroll the scenic community and browse for unique gifts or collectibles in the shops along McCracken Street, take selfies, visit the honey keeper or make your way around to Ruth and Idgie’s graves and the old Juliette Grist Mill circa 1927, one the world’s largest water-powered grist mills.”
The town was named for Juliette McCracken, the daughter of the railroad engineer. For more information on the town, contact the Visitor Information Center at 443 McCracken Street in Juliette, call 478-992-8886 or visit the website.
The brick bank building at the center of McCracken Street was initially just a façade constructed on a vacant lot. After the movie was filmed, someone constructed a real building inside the façade that houses a gift shop and general store that is popular with tourists. When you see the bricks up close, you can see they are fake.
Other Georgia cities in which “Fried Green Tomatoes” was filmed includes: Senoia, Newnan, Whitesburg (the railroad trestle bridge in the scene where Buddy was killed), Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Conyers (the nursing home), Fayetteville and Zebulon.
Other movies filmed scenes in Juliette, including: 1974’s “Cockfighter,” 1986’s “A Killing Affair,” 1994’s “The War,” the 1995 TV movie “The Tuskegee Airmen,” 2017’s “Baby Driver,” and a 2006 documentary called “Fried Green Tomorrows: Juliette, Georgia Lives.”
Check out our photos below. This is definitely a place to put on your bucket lists.