Craving Some Soda Fountain Cool in Seattle

Leslie Kelly
Customers seated at a Horluck's ice cream and soda fountain, Seattle. Date unknown.

On National Root Beer Float Day, I cannot help feeling a little bummed. Getting in the car to drive to A&W just isn’t going to cut it.

As far as I can tell, the nearest old-fashioned soda fountain is 260 miles away, at Lincoln County Pharmacy in Davenport, one of those sleepy towns on Highway 2.

When classic goodies like pie and cupcakes have become so retro cool, why hasn’t anybody seized on updating the soda fountain?

I’m not talking about the beautiful boozy milkshakes at Autumn Martin’s Hot Cakes in Ballard, though that has been one of the best things to happen on the ice cream front this season.

No, I’m craving a place with a counter and a soda jerk who makes a masterful float with housemade organic ice cream plopped into root beer infused with some real personality. And while we’re on this nostalgic journey, how making me about a chocolate soda with a sidecar too? (That’s a scoop of ice cream perched on the rim of the glass of this refreshingly fizzy drink.) Oh, and please bring me a banana split!

Way back when, these drug store soda fountains doubled as community gathering places. The precursor to today’s coffeehouse. Hey, there’s the bright idea light bulb going off: Maybe Howard Shultz can launch a Starbucks soda fountain? What do you say Mr. S? Let’s meet in Davenport to discuss?