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WhistleStop Registered Trademarks ®

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GHC Products, Inc. (the “GHC” stands for “Good Home Cooking”) dba Whistle Stop Products holds federal registrations of a family of trademarks built around the “Whistle Stop” mark. We have registered (1) THE ORIGINAL WHISTLE STOP CAFE for retail restaurant services, and (2) variations and combinations of THE ORIGINAL WHISTLE STOP CAFE and IRONDALE CAFE for restaurant services, selected food products, cookbooks, clothing (sweatshirts, hats, caps and aprons), and glassware. We began using most of the trademarks in 1992 or 1993, and obtained the federal registrations in 1996. Use of these or similar trademarks without permission in connection with any of the above (or related) classes of goods or services may constitute a violation of the rights of Whistle Stop Products in these registered trademarks.

Whistle Stop Products sells batters, mixes, marinade, seasonings, cookbooks and specialty items to over 3,000 stores in 48 states. We ship items mail order in all categories to all 50 states, Canada and a number of other countries. We also license the right to use the “Whistle Stop” and related trademarks for restaurant services. At the center of our business is the name “Whistle Stop Cafe.” Strong name recognition and the high quality of our products and packaging have made it possible for us to sell our products across the country. At Whistle Stop Products we are proud of our rich heritage and the fabulous reputation that our products have generated.

Please read about our family dining restaurant concept under “Restaurant Concept.” To become part of our WhistleStop Restaurant family, please visit whistlestopcafe.com. Licensees will receive a number of advantages. License agreements are available for single ownership restaurants/cafes currently open for business, and multiple unit licensing is also available. Please contact us 205.951.1928 or Toll free 888.944.7867 or E-mail us for licensing applications for restaurant services.

As owners of the WhistleStop Cafe registered Trademarks® we would like share with you our exciting restaurant concept. Our concept captures the nostalgic essence of small town cafes with warm friendly decor where folks enjoy down home and delicious meals. The building is reminiscent of an old railroad depot and will have a nostalgic railroad theme running throughout the restaurant. This Combined with strong name recognition from the movie classic Fried Green Tomatoes at the WhistleStop Cafe will be a winner coming down the tracks.

Bill and Mary Jo McMichael bought a little Cafe from Fannie’s Aunt Bess in 1972. We had been known as the WhistleStop Cafe since the mid 80s. By 1991 we had expanded the seating from 31 to 220. We had already out grown available parking before the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ debuted. The rest is history. Over the years we have entertained visitors from almost every country, been on national and international television, had articles in newspapers and magazines.

The name ‘WhistleStop Cafe’ evokes memories of everyone’s favorite little small town or neighborhood cafe that was always filled with families and friends; this is similar to the little cafe that Bill and Mary Jo McMichael grew. Folks enjoying wonderful down home cooking, the smell of fresh baked bread, the clatter of dishes, smiles and laughter accompanying the fellowship that accompanies these special places. This became the perfect setting for Fannies wonderful novel of friendship, compassion, gratitude, and survival.

The concept for the WhistleStop Cafe Restaurant is based on an ambience that offers that same kind of atmosphere that we seldom find in today’s fast pace world. Fannie eloquently describes this ambience in the introduction in her cookbook. (Click here to read Fannies Cookbook introduction).
Our family owned and ran that little Mom & Pop for almost 3 decades. The McMichael family also has generations of railroad experience, which ties to the theme and ambiance of the WhistleStop Cafe. Our family style restaurant was popular not only because of the good home cooking and old time cafe feel, but also because of the draw of the trains that rumbled past the front porch. Men and boys from 4 to 84 nabbed the tables by the windows to watch the trains go by. (There are over 60 trains every day) The Cafe had a reputation for family fun, hospitality, and food that was often rated ‘The Best in Birmingham’. Diners drove out of their way to visit, and after the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ they came by the bus loads just to experience the tradition. In the ninety’s most folks on the tour buses said that it was one of the highlights of their trip and for sure the best meal they’d had. For more information go to our History button on our site.


The birth of an idea for a family style dining experience, with an old-time cafe feel, and lively railroad theme began to take hold. Many generations of the McMichael family have a long-standing history involving both the railroad and small town cafes. The combination of tradition, reputation, and the potential for growth was exciting. In 1995, the concept for WhistleStop Cafe Restaurants was developed by Bill McMichael Jr, the President of WhistleStop Products.
The detailed concept involves a depot style building complete with water tower, a hometown cafe feel with a railroad theme, great food and quality family dining in a fun atmosphere. Traditional down home and delicious WhistleStop Cafe food would be the mainstay of the menu. Regional specialties that would include railroad jargon, such as Flat Car pancakes and Hobo stew, Roundhouse breakfast platter, and ChooChoo Cheese Cake, to name a few, all help to present a fun filled family dining atmosphere. A train will run around the ceiling of the restaurant announcing daily specials and Happy Birthdays to little Tommy or happy anniversary to Aunt Sue and Uncle Harry. The Hostess would boom “All Aboard, Johnson party, your table is ready”. Trains, whistles, and lights bring to life the unique concept. The country store inside will offer a quaint shop including railroad related merchandise, WhistleStop mixes, seasonings, sauces, and much more.

The connection to the history and heritage of the WhistleStop Cafe are central to the concept. The name, unique family dining experience, well designed layout, ambience, logo and national name recognition presented through the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ present unique opportunities for marketing and advertising. Fannie Flagg loves the concept and has said that she could help wait tables at grand openings!
In an effort to get Mom and Dad retired, the McMichael family sold the Irondale Cafe in 2000. The rights to the name, all registered trademarks, food products and restaurant concept were all retained by GHC for continued use and development. The detailed concept, including professional renderings, layouts, theme, and decor are available to build an exciting business opportunity. We see a big winner coming down the tracks. Call Bill McMichael personally to discuss the WhistleStop Cafe Concept.

When Bill sat down one summer night in 1995 to detail the restaurant concept, he had years of experience on both the railroad and in restaurants. Both granddads were engineers; his father a diesel supervisor at Norfolk Southern Norris Yard in Irondale Alabama. Billy Sr. and Mary Jo are both awesome cooks and built their little café with almost no drive by traffic by serving great home cooking at a fair price. With all the years cooking great food combined with railroad experience and the family restaurant business, the table was set.

Our concept of a family restaurant serving down home and delicious food in a small town cafe setting with railroad memorabilia in a building reminiscent of railroad depots was pretty much inevitable. Like most men, Bill Jr has fond memories of Christmas morning playing with a new model train set with his Dad helping to put the rails together. His travels as a child with his dad to work on crippled Locomotives and little country depots and as an adult railroad employee took him through hundreds of towns, large and small, where he had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time around railroad depots and stations as well as the local Mom & Pop’s. Billy sr. ( also a builder) made him keenly aware of the fabulous old depots and their strong esthetic designs. These magnificent structures are a big part of the concept facade.

Thanks to a suggestion from a regular cafe customer who owned a local seasoning company, the first 4 batter mixes made it to the grocery store shelves in 1993. Mary Jo and Billy spent a year refining the batter blends before the final formulas went to market. We get compliments on a regular basis on all our products. One thing that we wanted and strived to do was to make Fannie proud of these quality products. Today we ship 14 items and 3 cookbooks to over 3000 stores in 48 States. We have more food products and cookbooks on the way. We also look forward to selling the WhistleStop Cafe® Family Dining Concept, layouts, theme and Restaurant services Marks to a quality restaurant company that will make this fabulous concept a reality.

This is a strong exciting concept and trademarked name. We look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.

All aboard!