Friday, September 12, 2014

Historic Zesto to Close Old Fourth Ward Location

Historic burger chain to shutter Ponce de Leon Avenue location.

Zesto Drive-In announced earlier today it will close its restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Old Fourth Ward after 60 years in business. The Ponce location has been sold and will cease operations as of next Saturday, September 20th.  The small original walk-up building was razed and rebuilt in 1991 and earned the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award for Architectural Excellence  that same year.

Zesto serves a variety of burgers, shakes, fries and ice creams and is this year celebrating the brand's 65th anniversary.  

Zesto started in 1945 as a subsidiary of Rockton, Illinois-based Taylor Freezer Corporation, and by 1949 was operating in 46 states including Georgia.  Entrepreneur John Livaditis opened the Atlanta area locations.   Taylor's "Zest-O-Mat" soft serve ice cream machines were the inspiration for the Zesto Drive-In. Taylor abandoned the Zesto restaurant concept a decade after its inception and the remaining restaurants became independent operations.  Taylor continued to manufacture frozen yogurt machines and its machines are still around today and found in many FroYo shops.  

Zesto locations in Little 5 Points, East Confederate & Moreland Avenue in Southeast Atlanta, near Lindbergh MARTA station on Piedmont Road, on Forest Parkway in Forest Park and on Carriage Oaks Drive in Tyrone will remain open.  The first Atlanta area Zesto was located on Peachtree Road in south Buckhead across from what is now the AMTRAK train station and was then known as "Brookwood Station."  Zesto also had area locations on Roswell Road and Cheshire Bridge Road.

Interestingly, Zesto's stylized Piedmont Road location was originally built as a McDonald's.  

A number of independent Zesto restaurants still exist around the country.

The Ponce location will reportedly be replaced by a restaurant and NOT a bank. It's not publicly known what restaurant will replace the Zesto, but whatever replaces it will likely mean the demolition of the existing iconic building.  I would not be shocked to see either Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A or North Carolina-based Cook-Out replace Zesto as they both lack a presence in the immediate area and both have the funds to make a deal like this happen.  I'm quite sure the restaurant sits in the Beltline Overlay District, which could present some challenges for whoever seeks to replace Zesto.  

What is your fondest Zesto memory?  Would you be a fan of a Cook-Out or a Chick-fil-A in place of Zesto?  What would you like to see replace the Zesto?  

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I could see a Chik Fil A going in there, especially now that there is a Zaxby's just a little further up the street.

Anonymous said...

Had business declined a lot at that location? I used to go there quite a bit in the early 90s (the current building was remodeled/redone around 1991 or 92) and it was always quite busy.

Anonymous said...

This is very sad! Zesto's became one of the foremost chili dog fast food stops much like the Varsity. Chili slaw dogs were hard to beat. I really hate to see this happen.

Anonymous said...

How about a Waffle House

Anonymous said...

Please Chick-Fil-A, please.

ka said...

Zestos was better than any other huge chain restaurant (chikfila etc). Offering burritos that rocked, Veggie Burgers, and the taco deal was awesome. Their food was always more fresh. Theres so much crappy fast food in o4w. I hope something relatively healthy goes in there. Zestos ice cream is the best ever.

~ka~
O4W resident

Anonymous said...

The "heck of a job" Brownie advertised on table tents was priceless!

Theron Sapp said...

This is sad, but way too typical of our city. Whether it's a giant stadium or a little hot dog shop, we can't seem to keep anything special.

BTW, Zesto also had a location decades ago at Clairmont Road and North Decatur.

Anonymous said...

This is not Old 4th Ward. In the interest of geographical correctness.

Grant Goggans said...

It really is a shame to lose such a gorgeous building and such a great place for good milkshakes. Excellent crew at this location, too. I hope they all get places at the other Zesto restaurants in town.

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in the area during the 50's and 60's as well as still living there, Zesto on Piedmont has always been Zesto, never was it a McDonalds. (except for the short time it changed its name to Burrito Brothers)

Anonymous said...

Just like Virginia-Highlands, O4W is growing by leaps and bounds

Disneypal said...

I think it is sad that it is closing. It is an Atlanta icon and I love the building. It is one of the few places that has tater tots - yum. I know there are other locations, but I liked this on the best. Sure will miss it.

Cookout doesn't really appeal to me.