The Dwarf House, founded by S. Truett Cathy and birthplace of the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, is slated to reopen its doors on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, after a nine-month renovation, according to a press release Wednesday. In a newly designed, mid-century modern space featuring a full-service dining room, drive-thru with increased capacity, and mobile order pick-up area for convenient service, the renovated restaurant also conserves 16 artifacts from the original building and includes new “storytelling elements.”
“From a pie shop to murals to exclusive merchandise, The Dwarf House is designed to be both a full-service restaurant and a destination that tells the story of where it all began for Chick-fil-A,” according to the release.
In lieu of the traditional “Chick-fil-A First 100 Grand Opening celebration,” The Dwarf House will be surprising 100 local heroes making an impact in Hapeville with free Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich meals for a year. Additionally, in honor of the opening, Chick-fil-A will donate $25,000 to Feeding America. The funds will be distributed to partners within the greater Atlanta area to aid in the fight against hunger.
What’s new and what remains.
The Dwarf House restaurant first opened in 1946 and was last renovated in 1967. The latest renovation, which broke ground in May 2021, more than doubles the restaurant’s operational capacity and modernizes the space while honoring the restaurant’s rich history.
“This is a great reflection of my granddad’s entrepreneurial spirit and total commitment to excellent customer service,” John White IV, president of S. Truett Cathy Brands, said. “Years before his passing in 2014, my granddad was thinking ahead by purchasing nearby property anticipating its inevitable expansion. Although my grandparents aren’t here to see this amazing restaurant, I’m confident they would be proud of the way we have brought to life his entrepreneurial journey through this design.”
More than 500 hours of research including interviews with Team Members and customers helped shape the stories that the redesign will bring to life. The unique design elements that tell the timeless history of the restaurant and local Hapeville community include:
- Artifacts from the original building such as the iconic “Little Red Door,” stools from the front counter of the 1967 building, multicolored stained-glass windows, repurposed bricks, among others
- A pie shop serving pie by the slice, inspired by Zelma Calhoun, the restaurant’s iconic pie chef
- Cobble pavers in the parking lot mimicking the sound of gravel from the original restaurant, which signaled to Truett when customers were arriving
- Several tributes throughout the restaurant that recognize and tell stories of longtime Team Members
- Outdoor pavilion with seating for dining and a play area for children to enjoy
- Exclusive Dwarf House merchandise from shirts to coffee mugs
- The restaurant also has enhanced service offerings for customers including Expanded and updated front counter, self-serve dining, and a large room for community dining and events (reservation required), Mobile pick-up area with separate entrance, Dual drive-thru lanes to increase capacity, and Additional parking for cars and charter buses, including electric vehicle charging stations
“The restaurant authentically tells the living legacy of S. Truett Cathy and Chick-fil-A,” Jenn Allstun, who led the design of The Dwarf House, said. “For every single piece of the building we chose—down to the pavers in the parking lot or the designs in the floor—there had to be a story or intention behind it.”
History of the Dwarf House.
Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy opened the Dwarf House in 1946 and, with taste testing from his customers, developed the recipe for the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich in 1964. Originally open 24 hours a day, six days a week, the diner-style restaurant serves the Chick-fil-A menu as well as items from Truett’s original menu, which includes staples like the famous “hot brown” (chicken mixed with cream sauce, cheese, and bacon), hamburgers, coleslaw, and lemon pie.
The original 1946 space only had capacity for 10 stools and four booths, so Truett and his brother, Ben, named the restaurant The Dwarf Grill because of its modest footprint (later renamed The Dwarf House). But despite its small size, it quickly grew to be a beloved restaurant for Hapeville residents, workers at the nearby automobile plant, as well as travelers from all over the world due to its proximity just three miles from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
In 1967, the original restaurant was replaced with a larger structure to meet customer demand; this restaurant stood until the 2021 remodel process began.
“Truett was committed to this restaurant and this community, and even lived next door to the restaurant so he could wake up at any hour of the night to be there to serve his customers whenever needed,” Kevin Moss, who was hired by Truett Cathy with a handshake agreement, according to the release. He has served as executive general manager of the Dwarf House for 25 years. “His entrepreneurial spirit really inspired this renovation so we can meet the needs of our customers while celebrating something Truett always said, ‘No matter how big we grow, this will always be home.’”
The Dwarf House, at 461 N Central Ave., is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.