Have you ever been to an old fashioned soda fountain, malt shop, or ice cream parlor? When I was a kid I would take the train to Philly with my grandma and we would go to the old Woolworth’s Five & Dime to eat lunch and have malted shakes. I have many fond memories at that lunch counter. Old soda shops invoke memories of a different era. I envision girls in full skirts, sweater sets, and saddle shoes and guys with jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets pouring in after school for malts and cherry Cokes from the soda fountain. Today soda shops are a special treat not only for the food, but also for a sense of nostalgia. There are not many authentic soda fountains in business today. Those you find now are certainly special.
S & T’s Soda Shoppe in the quaint town of Pittsboro, NC, is located in what was once the Pilkington Drug Store. Pittsboro has an extensive history and much of the downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. I drove to Pittsboro specifically with the intent of having an old-time milkshake and a cherry Coke from a fountain. Friday was a little cool, but sunny; a perfect day for slurping down a malted chocolate shake and washing it down with a real cherry coke.
Everything about S & T’s Soda Shoppe screams authenticity: from the awning, gold business lettering and cafe curtains that greet you on the street to the honeycomb tiles, jukebox and mahogany woodwork inside. There are wire frame sweetheart cafe tables, mirrored mahogany booths, and cabinets filled with history. It is a lot for your senses to absorb. The owner, Vicky, greeted me immediately and told me I could choose my seat. I opted for a wire framed sweetheart cafe table in front of the ice cream counter.
The woodwork in S & T’s Soda Shoppe is stunning. Rich brown in color with delicate details, the cabinetry certainly adds a wow factor to the shop. I asked Vicky about the cabinets and she said some were original to the structure when it was purchased. The rest were purchased from an old drug store. I ordered a real Cherry Coke and a chocolate Steve’s Super Malt Shake complete with whipped cream and jimmies of course! While I waited for my order to arrive I looked around the shop. There is so much to see in the old cabinets, including an homage to Mr. Pilkington, the pharmacist, and his drug store. Other memorabilia include old soda fountain milkshake mixers, ice cream come dispensers, syrups, and old serve ware.
Regular customers packed the shoppe – some for a frosty treat, others for a sizzling lunch. The owners are well loved by the community, you could tell by the customers. And I understand why. Vicky and her husband are welcoming and friendly, eager to make your experience a pleasant one.
When my order arrived I had a hard time choosing which drink to try first. Should I try the effervescent, tangy cherry Coke? Or the nutty, malted milk chocolate shake? It was a tough choice but I went for the cherry Coke. It was much better than a cherry cola typically found in a bottle or can. This was the real deal, and it did not disappoint! Next up? The creamy malted chocolate shake. I couldn’t get enough! They even serve it with the extra shake in a metal cup, which is a good thing because I downed this divine treat faster than my grandpa’s T-Bird in a drag race.
My next trip to S & T’s will certainly include sampling either the Steve’s Gambler, a skirt steak served on a sizzling skillet with grilled onions, steak fries and bread, or the Lasagne. Each dish is reminiscent of dishes found at the old Ram’s Head Rathskeller in Chapel Hill. Several people ordered the Gambler, which smelled incredible as the server hustled past with the sizzling dish. As if I need a reason to visit again!
S & T’s Soda Shoppe is found on Hillsborough Street in downtown Pittsboro. Stop in for a spell! You won’t regret sipping a frosty treat.