McAlister's Deli Used To Be Called Something Totally Different

There isn't enough room on the United States map to pinpoint popular restaurants and eateries from all 50 states. California has In-N-Out, whereas Chicago has Uno Pizzeria & Grill. Texas is home to the beloved Whataburger while the New England area runs on Dunkin'. The American South may be known for grits, biscuits and gravy, ribs, and fried chicken, but it's also the birthplace of a popular sandwich chain: McAlister's Deli was started in Oxford, Mississippi (via The Oxford Eagle).

Now, the restaurant has spread from the South with a chain of locations stretching from Texas to North Carolina and has even planted roots as far north as Indiana, Wisconsin, and North Dakota (via McAlister's Deli). The menu offers comfort food that can be prepared and enjoyed fast with a big dose of taste and personality. The offerings include the Orange Cranberry Club, Country Potato Soup, Savannah Chopped Salad, Colossal Carrot Cake, Black Angus Roast Beef Spud, and sides like Mac and Cheese and Potato Salad. McAlister's Famous Tea is also a menu staple, so much so that the restaurant sells monthly tea passes on their website. If you think that sounds sweet, just wait until you hear how the chain got its name after briefly being called something else entirely.

McAlister's was originally named Chequers

Inspired by the 1989 film "Heart of Dixie," Mississippi native and University of Mississippi alum Don Newcomb purchased a rather large souvenir from the movie's set: the gas station that had been converted into a 1950s-themed diner for filming (via And Speaking of Which). If production thought it was a good idea for a movie, then surely it would be a success in real life, too, right? With this mindset, Newcomb got to work. He used his knowledge from previous restaurant franchise partnerships to flip the gas station set into Ole Miss's newest sandwich shop.

The process took two years and lots of help from his sons and office manager, Debra Bryson, with whom he'd go on to open several more restaurants. They named the local eatery "Chequers." However, community members began mistaking it for the drive-thru burger chain Checkers. To lessen confusion around the similar name, Newcomb quickly rebranded the shop to McAllister's in homage to his wife's family. The restaurant became a chain in 1995 and has expanded to over 500 locations across the United States, according to McAllister's website. Texas, Indiana, and Mississippi are the states with the most locations.