Back in Time on Bull Street
Perhaps not the traditional soda fountain with an interior of polished brass gooseneck spouts and spinning stools or even round marble-topped tables with matching sweet- heart chairs, The Soda Pop Shoppe, owned by Steve Lewellyn and managed by Willie Chavez, is a modern day soda fountain serving up equal parts nostalgia, personality and chili dogs. “The Shoppe was opened for all these hungry girl scouts,” laughs Chavez. “Not too long ago people were running from downtown. It was nowhere to start a business. But the scouts were still coming because of the Juliette Gordon Low House. They would stop next door at the Blimpie and ask if they had ice cream or even hot dogs—something more tantalizing to the eyes and tummies of those girls.” Lewellyn and his father saw an opportunity to bring back that comfort of a Coke float on a hot summer day and a hotdog all the way. Their idea was just crazy enough to work, and now the Shoppe serves nearly 150 dogs a day rang- ing from the American Dog to the “Willie Dog,” which features ketchup, chili and hot sauce. Standing midway in the door of the Shoppe with her son and their dogs-to-go regular, Leslie Allen is quick to admit that while pregnant with her daughter, she stopped in almost daily to get a chili cheese dog: “It’s just good. The conversation is good. The people are good. The prices are good. It’s just good.” Never one to pass up a chance to rib a customer, Chavez yells out, “Good answer. The next one is on us. Now, who’s next?”
Planted firmly in the foundation of Americana, the barbershop has long been a main street staple where good conversation is as valued as a #4 fade. With its Rockwellian sensibilities and timeless feel the Barber Pole on Bull Street is the kind of place where a man can go for a good shave, a good shine and a good story. Owner Gary Foust is quick to point out that as a 3rd generation bar- ber keeping the tradition of the barbershop alive is serious business; so serious that in 1998, Foust and his father Dewey saved up $20,000 to open the shop and go into business for themselves. “We wanted that environment where people would feel comfortable coming in for a cut and where they could stay as long as they like,” Foust says. “We see about 400 heads a week so we must be doing it right.” Since the addition of shoeshine master William Boyce in 1999, the shop has been running on auto-pilot, with men of all ages coming and going in time to the twirl of the red and white pole out front. “This seat doesn’t stay empty long,” Foust adds. And if the list of walk-ins on the old wooden counter is any indication, it won’t ever be.