MacAlpines Puts The
Retro Into Retro-Chic
Old Time Soda Fountain Shop Survives in the New Era, While Maintaining a Nostalgic, Old-Time Feel and Values
One of MacAlpines famous pink-bedecked waitresses carries a tray of goodies to a waiting customer.
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
July 24, 2012 — It seems like every new corporate lunch, dinner and dessert place tries to make themselves look old.
Filled with antiqued novelties and signs, they try to capture a feeling of time and place that makes patrons step back into a time and place where things were simpler and purer.
But unless the myth is backed up by reality, the results are disappointing.
Nothing can beat the real thing, baby.
In Phoenix, that “real thing” is MacAlpines Soda Fountain, 2303 N. 7th Street — a piece of living history sitting smack dab in the middle of Phoenix’s historic Coronado district.
“There aren’t many restaurants that you can walk into a feel like you’ve walked into another era,” said current owner Monica Heizenrader. But Mac Alpines “is a special piece of both Arizona and Soda Fountain History.”
The soda fountain opened in 1929 as part of Burch’s Pharmacy back when every pharmacy also sold drinks and other novelties as well as a sandwich or two.
After being open for a few years it came under new ownership in the early 1930s and became the Morris Zimmerman Pharmacy. After Zimmerman left, it operated under the name Morris Pharmacy until 1938, when it was purchased by Fred MacAlpine. Through the progression of owners, the soda fountain never stopped pumping out tasty beverages.
The store continued on as a pharmacy and soda fountain until New Years Eve 1992 when then-owner Don Briscoe — who also served as the stores pharmacist — sold the shop to antique dealer Tommy Meredith. The shop would go through a few more owners before Heizenrader purchased it in 2001.
“We always get good service here,” said Sonia Fairbanks as she shared chocolate malt with her husband Robert.
The Fairbanks have been regulars at Mac Alpines for 20 years and have seen a few different owners.
“When we first started coming in we knew all the servers names and they knew ours,” said Sonia. “There have been transitions, we don’t know the names anymore but the service is always good.”
The shop survived the great depression and is still “doing very well” in the current economy according to Heizenrader. The secret to their success is “it’s comfortable,” said Heizenrader.
Robert Fairbanks agrees.
“We come because it’s comfortable, we come for the nostalgia,” he said. “When things get bad people want things that are simple and comfortable. We make homemade food, with ingredients you can pronounce.”
The restaurant does burgers, salads and sandwiches, and even added some vegetarian options like the fresh made “black bean veggie burger” to its traditional menu.
“In this area you need vegetarian options. I’ve had times where my entire staff is vegetarian,” said Heizenrader.
Even with the new dining option, the soda fountain is king with a drink and dessert menu that vastly out numbers the lunch menu.
“The food is good here, but we mostly come for a malt,” said Sonia.
Mac Alpines boasts a soda fountain with 99 flavors including “Dill Pickle”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which is blue raspberry mixed with wedding cake, and the “Velvet Elvis” which is red velvet soda with vanilla ice cream. Mac Alpines also has a wide variety of ice cream, shakes and malts, and uses Thrifty ice cream.
Another reason Robert Fairbanks finds himself at Mac Alpines is, “she likes to go shopping” he said motioning toward his wife.
Mac Alpines is both a soda fountain and an antique shop.
“We sell very affordable antiques,” said Heizenrader, “retro and mid-century modern furniture,” as well as clothing and jewelry.
Mac Alpines even does a calendar with their serving staff posing with items from the antique store.
So take a break from retro and just go retro.
Malteds for everybody!
Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, OccupyUprising.org and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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