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A hand-spun strawberr y milkshake from Pickwick made with Her shey’s Ice Cream and Happy Cow Creamer y milk is the per fect af ter-school treat.

The current lunch counter at Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain opened in 2007.

HAND-SPUN NOSTALGIA In Greenville, the soda shop faithful still have a home WORDS BY ARIEL TURNER | PHOTOS BY WILL CROOKS


oda shops, even today, many years after their heyday, are still the embodiment of the “Cheers” theme song. “I try to remember everybody’s name after the first visit,” says Kelly Odom, owner of Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain, which is celebrating 70 years in the prescription business at 3219 Augusta Road. While soda shop fare isn’t a hard sell — hand-spun milkshakes, sodas with flavored syrup, toasted sandwiches, and homemade chili — it’s not the only draw. If you’ve sat on a spinning bar stool and felt the coolness of the marble countertop while chatting with the other regulars and employees, you’ll likely return for the unmatched ambiance and the feeling like you’ve traveled back in time. But let’s be clear: There’s nothing quite like a hand-spun milkshake as an

after-school treat, or an ice-cold soda with three pumps of cherry syrup in it and a perfectly toasted and gooey grilled cheese for lunch. Odom says the most popular milkshake flavors made with Hershey’s Ice Cream and Happy Cow Creamery milk are birthday cake and cookies and cream. Orangeades are a guest favorite. The shop also sells Duke Sandwich Co. sandwiches (pimento cheese is a strong pick) and makes its own chili. Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain has been spinning malts and jerking sodas since the Odom family opened it in 1933 in what is now the Warehouse Theatre, serving Furman University students who would walk over from the school’s former location in the County Square area. Pickwick moved to its current location at the other end of Augusta Road in 1937. In 1941, co-founder Francis Odom

and his brother Frank were drafted to World War II, forcing the family business to temporarily shut its doors. In January 1947, Pickwick reopened, adding a pharmacy and drive-in restaurant to the family soda fountain. The current building was built in 1961 as a result of outgrowing the original structure. The building went through various changes, including housing a barbershop on the right side where the lunch counter is now and a complete renovation after a fire destroyed much of the building on Mother’s Day 1987. In 2007, Odom renovated the right side of the building and reopened the soda shop in its current form, using the fountain from Carpenter Brothers Pharmacy, once located on Main Street across from the Poinsett Hotel. Across town, Greenville’s only other surviving soda shop is Northgate Soda Shop at 918 N. Main St. Owned for

eight years by Iris and Ren Bell, it’s been around since 1947. No stranger to the soda shop allure, Ren Bell worked at the former Tucker’s Soda Shop in the Village of West Greenville as a curb hop when he was in high school at Parker High. He and his wife bought Northgate when the previous owner, Catherine Christophilis, offered them the opportunity. “It was for Iris,” Bell says. “She’s a wonderful cook.” Bell says guest favorites are Jimmy’s pimento cheeseburger, the house-made deviled egg and chicken salads, and the peanut butter milkshakes. Freshsqueezed lemonade and orangeade are popular, along with cherry Pepsis. Bell issues a warning about the cherry syrup, though: There are 5 poundVs of sugar in 1 gallon of syrup. Each flavored soda has at least three pumps. “That diet cherry Pepsi is not diet anymore,” Bell jokes.


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May 12, 2017 Greenville Journal  

Weekly newspaper with, for, and about Greenville, South Carolina. Published by Community Journals.

May 12, 2017 Greenville Journal  

Weekly newspaper with, for, and about Greenville, South Carolina. Published by Community Journals.

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