Cook Out Restaurant may be the single greatest thing to ever come into existence south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and it’s pretty new to Georgia. Locations have recently popped up in Gainesville, Alpharetta, Augusta, Atlanta, and have also blessed a few college towns (looking at you with envy, Georgia College and Kennesaw State). The most the average Southerner knows about Cook Out is that they’re all cozily decorated and the ambiance is set by contemporary Christian music, and, most importantly, it’s the cheapest and tastiest fast food you can find, and the only place we know of that boasts delicious and cost effective fast food as well as a milkshake menu boasting more than 40 flavors.
Some of us in the Metro Atlanta area find ourselves cheating on The Varsity while The Varsity is looking (the two restaurants basically share a parking lot at their Alpharetta location). No matter where our loyalties as Georgians should lie, we cannot avoid finding ourselves in line at the North Carolina-native.
Below: the Alpharetta locations of Cook Out and The Varsity
So, where did this wonderful gift come from? What’s the backstory?
Cook Out was founded in Greensboro, NC, by Morris Reaves in 1989. The “About Us” section of the website explains little beyond their double-drive thru business model and their “dedication to the highest quality food and the friendliest service in the fast food industry.”
Nowhere on the website is there an explanation of their decision to play Christian music or the explanation of the scripture on the paper cups, but according to a Cook Out opening director in a 2011 interview, “In the family there's a lot of Christian influence, and they grew up in the South. It just kind of seemed natural. We've got scriptures on our cups and on the bags from the family scriptures that they like. It just kind of stood out to them."
The Bible verse on the cups is Proverbs 1:7, which reads “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (ESV). In order to find this verse, one has to look it up on his or her own because of the fact that it isn’t written anywhere in the restaurant or on the restaurant’s website. It’s a reminder of the importance of doing your own listening and learning and this reminder comes from the most unlikely place: a fast food cup.
Beyond being a pretty straightforward verse (having a fruitful relationship with God starts with gaining your own knowledge), the juxtaposition between the verse and its location on the cups at Cook Out is a great example that growth in our walks with Christ can come at the most unlikely places and at the most unlikely times.
The next time you’re in too much of a hurry to make a homemade meal and have to resort to a cheap fast food meal, choose Cook Out over McDonald’s or Wendy’s. It’s cheaper, tastier, and, despite the fact that it’s fast food, there is a reminder to listen and learn printed right under your meal.