13 little-known facts about Buford Highway

Atlanta doesn’t have a Chinatown or Koreatown or Little Havana. But there is Buford Highway, the international corridor where all these cultures, and more, co-exist.

The cornucopia of rich, authentic ethnic fare across Buford Highway has earned the industrial, unsuspecting thoroughfare its reputation as the city’s top dining destination for dishes and cuisines from across the globe.

This fall, the AJC will delve deeply into the must-try ethnic dishes along the corridor with its Buford Highway Dining Guide , sharing the backstory on 50 of the Buford Highway restaurants that have become the stuff of legends.

To get a better sense of how the Buford Highway came to be, here are few little-known facts about the international food highway, provided by the We Love Buhi Dining Guide and previous AJC reports.

1. The area that encompasses the more than 100 international restaurants is about a eight-mile stretch of Buford Highway between Buford and Atlanta, Georgia.

2.  Twenty-one nations are represented along Buford Highway’s dozens of restaurants.

3. The first ethnic restaurant, the Havana Sandwich Shop, opened in 1976, when the area was still primarily populated by blue-collar white families.

4. The population in Chamblee, one of the primary communities along the area, transformed from more than 90 percent white in the 1980s to 65 percent foreign-born in 2000.

5. There are now more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses along the corridor, including owners of Korean, Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Somalis and Central American descent.

6. Buford Highway was given the nickname “International Corridor” by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

7. In 2017, Ryan Gravel, the man behind the Atlanta Beltline, focused his attention on preserving the culture that has sprung up along Buford Highway with civic proposals to improve transit and housing affordability.

8. That same year, there were nine Living Walls murals along the Buford High corridor that sought to promote the “multicultural fabric” of Buford Highway.

9. More than 50,000 people live along Buford Highway, which touches Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett county lines.

10. As early as the 1990s, immigrants began settling in the Buford Highway area due its affordable housing, access to public transportation and proximity to Gwinnett’s increasing number of construction jobs.

11. The area drew in many Latino workers and their families in the mid-1990s, ahead of the 1996 Olympic Games.

12. The top three largest strip malls along the corridor are: the Northeast Plaza (466,000-square-feet), Plaza Fiesta (355,000-square-feet) and the Buford Highway Farmers Market complex (100,000-square-feet)

13. Plaza Fiesta opened in 1968 as the Buford-Clairmont Mall. It now features a massive farmers market, several discount stores and more than 140 small vendors.

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