The 1991 film ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ brings to life the vivid and lively world of the small town of Whistle Stop as old lady Ninny regales a memorable story of her old acquaintances to an unhappy housewife, Evelyn. Ninny’s recount focuses on the life of one tomboyish, stubborn woman, Idgie Threadgoode, who saved her best friend, Ruth Jamison, from an abusive marriage. However, due to the same, once Ruth’s husband, Frank Bennett, ends up missing, suspicions turn to Idgie, creating complications for the two women who had built their lives together.
In the film, after Idgie rescues Ruth from Frank’s house, the two women open a cafe together as business partners. The cafe, known for its delicious food, especially the Green Fried Tomatoes, comes to be known as the Whistle Stop Cafe and becomes the heart of the town. Therefore, if the pleasant environment of the cafe has caught your attention, you must be wondering whether or not it has a basis in reality.
Whistle Stop Cafe: From Fiction to a Reality
Although Whistle Stop Cafe from ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ started as a fictional place, its iconic presence within the successful film turned the small-town cafe into a real-life location, open for business. As such, even though a real-life cafe named after Idgie and Ruth’s business exists, the one depicted in the film run by the two women in an eponymous town is a fictional detail.
As a book-to-movie adaptation, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes,’ finds much of its roots in terms of characters and setting from the precursor 1987 novel, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop,’ by Fannie Flagg. Within Flagg’s work, Idgie and Ruth’s cafe remains one of the narrative’s centers, deploying immense significance and value to the overall tale. However, The Whistle Stop Cafe, along with the town itself, were fictional details created in service of the novel.
Nevertheless, even so, the cafe maintained a connection to reality through the real-life cafe from Flagg’s childhood that inspired its inception. A woman from the author’s family— her grandmother’s sister, Bess Fortenberry, ran a railroad cafe in Irondale that Flagg’s mother would often take her to visit.
“It was such a sweet, loving atmosphere out there, and it impressed me,” said Flagg in a conversation with Country Living. “The whole town knew each other. Then, I started hearing stories about the Depression. Bess fed people, and no one went hungry. That touched me, and I was so impressed with that feeling— of people taking care of each other and accepting each other and coming together. I wanted to re-create that.”
As such, the bare origins of the Whistle Stop Cafe, as depicted in the book that eventually inspired the film, come from a real-life cafe. Yet, with the film, the cafe’s ties to reality only grow firmer. During the film’s development, producers chose the Georgian town of Juliette to become their on-screen Whistle Stop. The building that they chose to play the cafe’s role was only an abandoned former general store from the late 1920s.
As a result, the crew renovated the building to its final form, as seen in the film, turning the store into the Whistle Stop Cafe. Even though the building was used to taking on numerous forms over the years, having been previously rented as a real estate office and antique store, the Cafe image ended up suiting it so well that the building’s owners decided to turn it into an actual cafe.
Is The Whistle Stop Cafe Still Open?
Yes, the Whistle Stop Cafe is still open for business in Juliette, Georgia, and has been a hotspot for film buffs, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ fans, or just food lovers in general for years. It was Robert Williams, the buildings’ inheritor’s, decision to turn the place into a cafe after the filming, and he was aided in the endeavor by his friend-turned-business-partner, Jerie Lynn Williams.
Currently, “Original Whistle Stop Café,” sometimes known as the Fried Green Tomatoes Restaurant, serves classic Southern dishes, including the well-loved Fried Green Tomatoes, a regular item on the menu. The cafe remains open from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M, Thursday through Monday, but closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Furthermore, no reservations are needed for customers to walk in and enjoy a big, hearty meal.
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