Sunday, December 29, 2019

[THAT'S ALL FOLKS] After Nearly 40 Years, Popular Southern Eatery Shutters in Marietta

Folks Southern Kitchen has closed its longstanding restaurant at the corner of Windy Hill Road and Cobb Parkway in Marietta.  The restaurant, which Cobb county records indicate opened in 1982, closed as of December 26, according to signage on the restaurant's door.  The approximately 5,400 square foot restaurant is labeled as "Folks Inc #10" in county records, indicating that it was the fledgling chain's tenth unit.  

As the Folks website tells it: 

"Folks, Inc.® was started in 1978 by Richard J. Pratt and Richard W. King with our first restaurant being in Chamblee, Georgia. Folks opened its doors December 2nd, 1978 and has been selling Atlanta's "Best Fried Chicken & Iced Tea" ever since."

In reality, that origin story is only half the actual story.  

The first Po’ Folks restaurant opened in Anderson, South Carolina in 1975. The restaurant's name was inspired by the 1961 country music hit Po'Folks by artist Bill Anderson. Entrepreneurs Richard Pratt and Richard King became franchisees of the budding chain in 1978 when they opened in Chamblee.  

In 1988, after peaking at more than 100 restaurants, the parent company filed for bankruptcy. Pratt and King's Atlanta area restaurants were thriving, so they rebranded as Folks [eventually adding Southern Kitchen], and continued to operate.


The Atlanta area operators once had a dozen or so units.  Among the early locations were those on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna, Alpharetta Highway in Roswell, Buford Highway in what is now Brookhaven, and in Chamblee on Peachtree Industrial, where an Advance Auto Parts operates today. 

In 2018, ToNeTo Atlanta reported that RaceTrac was looking to build a new convenience store and fuel center in place of the Marietta Folks and two adjacent parcels.  The plans were tabled indefinitely [before being heard by Cobb County] and could be dead entirely with the roughly one acre Folks parcel currently being marketed for sale by real estate firm Norton.  

This past August, Folks closed its restaurant on Douglas Boulevard in Douglasville after 40 years in business.  The restaurant, not far from Arbor Place Mall, closed as of August 19, according to signage on the restaurant's front door.  Folks closed their McDonough location in 2018 and their Gainesville location in 2016.  The Gainesville Folks, located at the corner of Browns Bridge Road and Pearl Nix Parkway, resembled the Windy Hill restaurant, but was torn down, reopening earlier this year as a new Golden Corral.  

Following the closure of the Marietta location, Folks will operate just three locations: Woodstock, Hiram and Tucker.  

According to the Folks website, however: 

"Folks®, Inc. currently operates 7 Folks Southern Kitchens® in 7 counties in the metro-Atlanta and North Georgia area. Our commitment to consistent operations and aggressive marketing has enabled us to be successful in this highly competitive market. We expect to continue to grow our concept to outlying communities in the upcoming years."

Although sad, changes in tastes and preferences among diners and an inability for established "old school" eateries to adapt have caused many classic southern eateries to close.  

Piccadilly Cafeteria, another restaurant specializing in southern fare, has closed, or will soon close, several locations in the greater metro Atlanta area.  A Piccadilly Cafeteria on North Druid Hills Road in Brookhaven closed in early 2016 and was recently demolished to make way for a huge Children's Healthcare of Atlanta expansion. Another, just off Howell Mill Road in Atlanta, closed in 2018 and will soon reopen as The Juicy Crab, a growing Cajun seafood franchise.  ToNeTo Atlanta reported December 27 that another Piccadilly in Conyers will likely close in 2020 to make way for a relocating Chick-fil-A.  

Despite their struggles, there is one local community where both Piccadilly Cafeteria and Folks (and the last Old Hickory House) continue to operate: Tucker.  Here, Piccadilly operates just off Northlake Parkway and a few seconds away, Folks operates along LaVista Road.  Immediate access off of I-285 likely helps both restaurants, but one has to wonder how long they can continue to hang on. 

Did you grow up eating at [Po]Folks?  What is your favorite Southern eatery?  What would you like to see open in place of Folks in Marietta?

Please share your thoughts below.  

19 comments:

John king said...

I like the old PO'Folks better. The food was better. The whole fried catfish and the Calabash Shrimp especially. They no longer serve the whole catfish and the Calabash Shrimp is pre frozen fro mostly breading now....yechhh!

Anonymous said...

The FOLK's restaurant looks old and dirty from the street.
No investment has been made to keep the location alive let alone clean.
Parking lot seemed busy as I drive past the restaurant several times per week.
Additionally, the intersection of Cobb Pkwy and Windy Hill is very busy and transitional. It is normal to see meth-heads and homeless begging for money at the intersection.
The area may experience a retail-refresh over the next decade.

Unknown said...

Please open the restaurant back up but remodeling it would help tremendous and as long as the food prices are still kept reasonable .

Anonymous said...

When I was a teenager working at Kinko's my best friend (now Husband) would pick me up from working on foot and we would walk over to folks before walking home. This was our spot with the peach biscuits.

Anonymous said...

Our lunch group from work would go over to that very Folks Restaurant. Although they had good food at a good price, the service there the last year has gotten worse and worse. If you don't have good management who know how to build the staff, then attendance falls off. For the last couple of months we had to quit going because we could not get served and out of there in an hour. It's a shame, I like Folks. But like so many other chains, district management just doesn't get how important store management is and the chain goes under.

Zeke OF Confettii said...

When a neighborhood changes, the restaurant and walk in retail stores are the first to notice a] improvement or B] a bad downturn. I haven't been able to get to the Smyrna location in a while, so I did not help. Sigh.

Unknown said...

That's sad news... I bought my to young family to Folks because it was part of out community. As immigrants I wanted my kids to be proud of the history of Marietta and Folks was one of those things. Too bad 😭😭😭

camiengl said...

Loved eating at Po'Folks as a child/teen. Good southern food.

Unknown said...

I am going to miss that place, we will always go to folks after Church service, I enjoyed the food.

Anonymous said...

So many long time employees there at that location. My heart and prayers go out to them and their families. I will miss them and Folks.

William said...

I ate at the Original Po Folk in Anderson and the Marietta location...among many others.

The Whole Catfish, Chicken Fried Steak, and all you can eat Biscuits were my favorites!

Lorip2162@gmail.com said...

Really saddened, will never have the BEST BRUNSWICK STEW in the country! Hands down! Fried pork chops, fried green tomatoes to Die for!

Supoman said...

I would have keep eating there but it was so filthy! Allie the folks are the same way. We ordered take out and the floors behind the counter were wet and nasty. I saw a server take an ice bucket and set it on the wet nasty floor! That was it for me!

Dot said...

Boy Folk's is closing. Where will I eat? I don't cook anymore and Folj2s was my place 2 to 3 times a week. I have coupons left. Also heard Picadilly is closing. That was alwats 2 times a week. Real good sourhern food. Where will I eat now? Boo Hoo.

Unknown said...

I'm deeply saddened to hear about the closing of Folks on Windy Hill Rd. Over the years, my family and I celebrated a lot of Mother's/Father's days there. Folks Restaurant will always be a part of my childhood memories.

Schooney123 said...

The Conyers location closed a while ago,and it closed because it was just not good anymore. The quality of the food went down, and the restaurant was not well maintained. I loved the peach muffins, and they were almost always small and dry towards the end.

Schooney123 said...

Have you been to Colonnades? Everything I've gotten from them so far has been wonderful.

Unknown said...

Always good food... hate to hear of it's closing...
Place needs a facelift.

LynnS said...

I agree! My dad and I used to do the all you can eat catfish and it was so good! And to the writer of this article, please stop referring to restaurants as “eateries” it’s very annoying.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...