The invention of the telephone, the first moon landing and the selling of sliced bread. What do all these events things have in common? Little, except for the fact that they have all occurred after the opening of the Highland Park Soda Fountain and Pharmacy.
For 106 years, the Highland Park staple dutifully served classic comfort food to generations of loyal customers, including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. However, as Dallas continues to grow and change, the nostalgic hub of grilled cheeses and milkshakes will cease to exist. In its place, an office building and retail space.
Terror has begun to set in, as lovers of the Soda Fountain flock to the restaurant to grab one last malt and grilled PB&J. When five-year employee Alex Gallegos was asked about the final week, she said, “There has been over at least 150 people a day.” Which, for the small location, is a big crowd.
Though necessary, growth and change can cause hard goodbyes for old time favorites. Unfortunately, they are constantly being replaced with something a little colder and a little more common. The Highland Park Soda Fountain seems to be the poster child for this concept.
Currently, growth seems to be the only constant in Dallas, with 22 companies on the Forbes Fortune 500 list and a candidate for the new Amazon headquarters, Dallas has been rapidly expanding, and is in need of new office spaces.
Often, with a booming economy follows the commercial fleet. Stores such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Nordstrom, and Walmart swoop in, ready to benefit from the growth and economic prosperity offered by new business. Strip malls are created, filled, and then replicated so that the difference is almost unrecognizable.
While highly practical and functional, these stores are often thought of being boring and unimaginative, calling to mind the traditional hum-drum suburbia. On the other hand, becoming out of date and falling out of style can pose a major issue for stores of the nostalgic nature.
Gallegos said, “I think its sad, because it is part of our history, but I also think we need to change it up, add more to it, and make it more modern.” Her readiness for change is reflected in many of the other employees’ attitudes, since they accept the need for change with a little sadness for the abandonment of a 100-year tradition.
Many are still holding on to the hope that after construction, the Soda Fountain will re-open its doors. However, though currently undecided, the possibility seems unlikely as the owners seem ready to move on. In addition, it is very possible that if reopened, the location would no longer be in the 106 year old corner hideaway.
If the Soda Shop’s doors do open after the construction, Gallegos says, “Its going to be different. Its not going to be exactly the same, but hopefully people still see it as a retro back-in-the-days Soda Fountain that is constantly a classic.”
The store on 3229 Knok Street closes on September 9, but there will be one last chance to try something off of the traditional menu at the State Fair of Texas (Sept, 29- Oct. 21) where the Highland Park Soda Fountain has had a booth at for the last couple of years.
As Dallas continues to grow and change, the ability to hold on to iconic novelties that make the city unique becomes more and more difficult. The loss of these classic rarities proves that nothing good lasts forever, so enjoy what you love before it becomes a victim of growth and change.