Although it has been open for over a year, I just recently made it down to the Commerce Street Soda Shop. Shame on me.
I did not grow up knowing what a soda shop was. Maybe that is why it took me so long to check this place out. In fact, there was never soda at my house and on the rare occasion that one of my little friends had a birthday party at McDonalds, there was a coca-cola in store for me. I was soda deprived. I realize this now but at the time, it was just how it was. When I met my mother’s family in Iowa, I was told that my great Uncle Albert had a soda shop in the 1950′s. I saw pictures of him in his shop with that little silly hat that everyone wore who worked in a restaurant back then. Well, Drue E. Fortune, the owner of the Commerce Street Soda Shop does not wear a silly hat nor does he look anything like my Uncle Albert. This is a good thing.
What he does do is make a mean Orange Cream soda not unlike the one some of us remember from the mall. I am not at liberty to mention said drink by it’s trademarked name but those of you who know, know what I am talking about.
The Soda shop is long and narrow, which makes it feel like you are walking towards something significant. You are, it is called soda coma. You can choose from a number of sodas on the wall like Tiger’s Blood, Oprah Winfrey, and Dark Knight or you can custom create a soda using the flavors available on the board and the soda/ice cream of your choice.
Are there things that could be done for the decor?Yes. Are they working towards it? Yes. Does it make the food any less delicious or the service lacking in anyway? No. So it doesn’t really matter, for now. I have eaten here at least 4 times in the last few weeks and not once have I had anything but a delicious experience. Make sure to try their home made chips with your meal or their famous wings. Don’t pass this place up if you value good customer service and a well made lunch.
If you could say that there was an epicentre of history in Montgomery, I would say it is around The Commerce Street Soda Shop. Rosa Parks stepped on the bus right by the fountain that stands in the middle of the old Slave Market. John Wilkes booth performed at the now abandoned opera house around the corner and the old Kress building still has their segregated food counters intact in the back window. I am sure there were a few soda shops in Montgomery back in the day. I am sure there were nothing like the Commerce Street Soda Shop. Here, everybody is welcome and greeted with a smile. Katherine or Drue are always up at the counter ready to take your order. All are valued because of their content of character, not their color or creed.
Drue told me that he has high hopes for Montgomery and the renewal of downtown. He wants Commerce Street Soda shop to be that bridge between young and old, between then and now. He wants his place to be a gathering place for the community once more. I like that idea very much. With so many new developments in the works downtown, Drue and his crew are sure to become a natural gathering spot for crowds both during the day at at night.
Commerce Street Soda shop is open for breakfast and lunch from 7 am until 4 pm Mon-Friday. There are plans for having a late night weekend menu in the near future and be on the look out for Drue’s and his partners’ next business venture two doors down.