So I an errand that took me by where I used to catch the bus, not far from the historic Elliston Place neighborhood, and I couldn’t resist getting out and walking around to see how the area was faring. And I was a little sad to see that the old Elliston Place Soda Shop was closed. I know it’s been a hard time for restaurants and other venues that depend on people actually coming in—Exit/In, another historic place, which is just up the street, has been struggling to stay open too.
Except the Elliston Place Soda Shop isn’t exactly closing. It’s moving. To the building next door.
That may seem a little odd, but then it’s been in the same building since 1939, and that building has been around since it first opened as a pharmacy in 1912. It’s a place that’s seen some history, including two world wars, large and small economic downturns, and fifteen presidents. Still the old building is kind of cramped and narrow, so it makes sense that, even before COVID-19, they were planning to expand so they could serve more people at a time. And it’s now got this newfangled drive-thru window!
I have my own history with the Elliston Place Soda Shop. The first time I went in there I was an adult. It may seem strange that I grew up in Nashville but never went there as a kid but, well, it was just not a place we ever went. It was a little before three in the afternoon, too late for lunch, too early for dinner. I sat down at the old-fashioned chrome counter. An older waitress with her hair up in a bun and wearing old-fashioned cat eye glasses studded with rhinestones smiled at me and said, “Well, what can I get ya, hon? How about a cheeseburger?”
“I think I’d just like a milkshake, please,” I said.
“Fine,” she snapped, glaring at me and snatching the menu out of my hands. I’m still not sure what I did wrong, but the milkshake was really good—one of the best I’ve ever had, but I didn’t go back for a long time. I’d been out to dinner with a friend and we decided we’d go to the soda shop for dessert. When we stepped in there was a guy in a white apron shaking a broom at us.
“Get out! Get out!” he yelled. “We’re closing in five minutes!”
Well excuse me for not knowing the hours. If they were closing up he should have locked the door.
One day not too long after that when I went to catch the bus I saw they were shooting a music video at the soda shop, only they’d covered up the signs and turned it into a place called Awful House. Well that’s fitting, I thought.
Maybe now that they’ve expanded their service will be a little more expansive, and eventually I will go back. I loved that milkshake and I’d really like to have another one, although I’ll get it to go.
Wow, with the customer service that place has/had I’m surprised it’s been around this long, lol. My mom had a restaurant and even when closing time came around and someone walked in, she’d serve them. It didn’t matter if everything was clean and washed. She’d say that that’s how you make repeat customers, you serve them at any time. Now I’m craving a milkshake 😉
It sounds like your mother really knew how to run a restaurant. And I do admit I understood the guy telling us to get out because they were closing. It’s really nice that your mother would still serve someone at closing time but I’d never want to do that to someone who worked at a restaurant. Food service is tough enough as it is, as I know from my own experience. And, yeah, I’m craving a milkshake now too. In fact the only time I’m not craving a milkshake is when I’m having a milkshake.
When you come to Boston, Chris, make sure that you ask for a Frappe instead of a milk shake, or you’re sure to be disappointed. Thanks for the interesting tour. This brought back memories for me of working at my father’s drug store which had a soda fountain with ice cream that was probably Sealtest which is, now that I think of it, a very weird name for ice cream.
Your father’s drug store sounds like a wonderful place to grow up. It’s a shame soda fountains have mostly become a thing of the past, but when I’m in Boston I’ll be sure to get a Frappe, and I doubt I’ll be disappointed.