Sno Cap opened in 1964 and has long served as a favorite community gathering place for fast-food in a sociable setting. In the spring of 2019, it was purchased by the Usry family (who created the estimable Fat Man’s Cafe and The Southern Salad). Havrid Usry vowed to keep the best of it (like the Atomic-era design, a skilled veteran staff, and fabulous cole slaw) but upped the ante in the form of freshly-ground beef for hamburgers (from Lanier’s Fresh Meat Market in Augusta), gorgeous shoestring French fries, craft root beer for floats, and — most fun of all — the return of car-hop service.
The 1/3-pound hamburger, a fairly thick, rugged patty that doesn’t ooze juice but has deep beef flavor, comes sandwiched in a tender brioche bun from Masada Bakery over in Norcross, GA. It can be ordered with a panoply of free condiments and garnishes (lettuce, tomato, ketchup, etc.) or such extra-cost premium add-ons as cheese, bacon, chili, slaw, grilled onions, pulled pork, and sauteed mushrooms.
Dark gold French fries are thin and crisp all around their edges but with enough body to deliver plenty of potato flavor. They’re a sturdy bed for blankets of chili and cheese. The chili sports reefs of ground beef, there’s melty cheese on top, and the fries are layered on in abundance, all adding up to a forkworthy little meal.
Don’t ignore Sno Cap BBQ. Smoked across the river at Fat Man’s Cafe, it is a motley heap of pork shreds that are butter-tender and velvet-soft except for a few chewy shreds of bark. The flavor is rich and smoky, well-abetted by Fat Man sauce, which is tangy with a subtle herbal twist.
Of course you want cole slaw, here known as Sno Slaw, made from a long-standing Sno Cap recipe. It is finely chopped and slightly creamy, just barely sweet, with spicy zest — a cool refresher that goes well with just about anything. It is especially good on a hot dog when combined with cumin-energized chili and mustard to become a classic Dixie Dog, which, when cheddar is added, becomes a Sno Cap Dog.
Thick frosted mugs are used for soda fountain drinks, which include Coke products as well as smooth, spicy Red Hare root beer (from Marietta, Georgia) — stout enough to be the ideal medium for a dollop of ice cream.
Dining options include indoor counter seats and booths, outdoor picnic tables, a drive-through lane, and tray-on-the-window car service.