Greenbriar Mall is a shopping mall in Atlanta, southwest of downtown Atlanta along Interstate 285 and Georgia State Route 166.
Greenbriar Mall opened in 1965 as Atlanta's second totally enclosed mall having being beaten by Columbia Mall
by one year. The design of the mall was like many of the early malls in Atlanta with an anchor store on each end and an enclosed hallway. The center opened with Rich's
on the east end of JCPenney
on the west end of the mall.
Chick-fil-A is born
Greenbriar Mall is most notable because it is the very first location of a Chick-fil-A
. Local Atlanta businessman S. Truett Cathy
took the chicken sandwiches served at his Dwarf House
in nearby Hapeville and opened what would become the standard for mall eating, the food counter. He opened this store in 1967 and after 40 years it is still growing and expanding.
The heyday of Greenbriar Mall
Greenbriar Mall's golden years were (arguably) the late 1960s and early 70's. The mall was at full occupancy, it was packed with shoppers, and crime was relatively low. Onsite there was a Happy Herman's Liquor Store, a two-screen movie theater downstairs, a Woolworth's
drugstore (with a photo booth and a coin-operated horse), a Frederick's of Hollywood
, Franklin Simon & Co.
, a Picadilly Cafeteria, a toystore, a Hallmark shop, a record shop, a Merry Go Round
clothing store, a Delta ticket counter, an arcade, and lots of other old familiar stores. Rich's had a balcony restaurant called the Magnolia Room. For the children, there were large cement animals to climb about. A large fountain was in front of the JC Penney
entrance. A floor-to-ceiling wrought-iron birdcage was near the center of the mall, filled with many small birds.
An area in transition
The area around Greenbriar Mall had been in transition since the late 60's. Middle-class white residents were aging, and their children were not staying in the area. Many of the homes in nearby East Point
were converted into rental properties; and nearby Campbellton Road and Camp Creek Parkway were becoming more and more urban, with many, many apartment complexes. As more and more African-American residents began patronizing the mall, it became known by the tongue-in-cheek nickname, "Blackbriar." But middle class black residents were also hesitant to patronize the mall, with so many other newer shopping alternatives in the nearby suburbs (such as Southlake Mall, Shannon Mall, and Cumberland Mall.) In the mid-1980s, after the loss of Happy Herman's, Hallmark, toy store, and the theater, Greenbriar Mall attempted to revitalize itself by enlarging the hallway where Happy Herman's, the toy store, and Chick-fil-A
stood into a small food court. Chick-fil-A had a much more prominent position in this new food court. It was too little, too late and most of the major retailers pulled out during the '80s. The arcade closed shortly thereafter. J.C. Penney struggled for years to hold on and finally closed; the site became an Uptons
in 1987 and later became a Burlington Coat Factory, while Rich's closed its tea room. In the late '80s and '90s, Peppermint Records became the new music retailer, which later closed in 2005, and Magic Johnson
built a new movie theater adjoining the mall, to much success. Rich's name also changed to Macy's
in 2005. It was the second-largest suburban Rich's when it first opened.
Over the years Greenbriar Mall has gotten a reputation for being a very rough mall. Despite this, Greenbriar is a very convenient location for shopping. The center has quite a few national retailers as well as local establishments. It is in a very ethnically diverse area. The notability of the mall is for multiple reasons not just for its history but its future as an economic powerhouse on the Southwest side of Atlanta.
The Greenbriar Mall and the area immediately surrounding it are also becoming notable as a draw for the entertainment industry. Plans have been announced for movie and music video production in the vicinity of Greenbriar Mall. In 2007, TV and film guru Tyler Perry announced his plans to build a 30 acre TV/film studio in the Greenbriar Mall vicinity, merely a half mile away on Greenbriar Parkway. In addition, several noted recording studios call the area home: including Stack Em Entertainment, Hood South Studios, and Dirty Music. The trendy and popular Figure 8 nightclub is also in the vicinity. The 2008 Music Expo, a showcase for child musical talent, will be featured at the Greenbriar Mall. This has all added to the modern renaissance of Greenbriar Mall.
Greenbriar Mall is not to be confused with Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake, Virginia, at which "Greenbrier" is spelled differently.
- Rich's (opened 1965, became Macy's in 2005)
- JCPenney (opened in 1965, Burlington Coat Factory today)