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Georgia hamlet resurrected by a movie


The unincorporated community of Juliette, Georgia, was slowly fading into oblivion. Named for the daughter of a railroad engineer, the hamlet had once prospered as a minor stop on the rail line between Atlanta and Macon. The grist mill that fueled the local economy, however, closed; and Juliette was little more than a cluster of rundown buildings when Hollywood came knocking in 1991.

Around that time, director John Avnet began his search for a locale that might serve as the setting of the film adaptation of Fanny Flagg’s best-selling novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” Juliette seemed to fit the bill perfectly. A hardware store (circa 1927) nestled right next to the railroad tracks was refurbished as the Whistle Stop Café, and other buildings in the area were relocated or re-conceived to serve as a main street for the fictional community. These include a one-room courthouse, a very rustic opry house, a train depot and a host of small shops.

The resultant film built upon the book’s popularity; and when the motion picture people left town, some local citizens, with Avnet’s encouragement, decided to turn the hardware-store-turned-movie-set into a real-life eatery. The rest is history.

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