SLIDELL, La. — Old Town Slidell is a 10-square-block downtown district of historic buildings, antiques and specialty shops, restaurants and museums. It's also the place to go for a sweet treat in Slidell!
The Old Town Slidell Soda Shop has been the hot spot for decades. When we stopped by, most of the kids indulging have parents who grew up going to the soda shop.
Most of the parents also had birthday parties there. The soda shop has hosted 3,000 in the 31 years of business.
"There's a nostalgic thing to it. It brings them back to a much simpler place and time," explained owner Frank Jackson.
Frank Jackson, known simply as Mr. Frank, opened the 1960's soda shop replica in 1988. One of only about 500 true soda fountains in the United States, it really is like stepping back in time with the staff's uniforms, the old fashioned counter and booths, old-timey menus posted, over 800 ice cream scoops adorning the walls, a jukebox and a game room. It's a special place families have gone for generations.
"I have never had a day go by that I don't have somebody thank me for being here," Mr. Frank said. "And that's very strange even to me because I don't know any other business where you walk in and thank them for being there."
The Soda Shop closed in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, but reopened in 2012. A reminder of the storm outside the building has become quite the landmark.
"That crazy thing out there with 'Katrina Man and the boat.' When I painted that thing out there it was probably the day after Katrina and I stood out there in waist deep water," Mr. Frank said. "I just found a can of spray paint in the garage and just sprayed that on the wall. And where the borderline is, where he's floating in the boat, that's exactly where it was."
Mr. Frank said the soda shop came back bigger and better than ever. It's an extensive menu with banana splits, shakes, malts, floats, ice cream sodas, sundaes, burgers, fries, sandwiches. And yes - there is a difference between a shake a malt and an ice cream soda. Mr. Frank even offers kids camps so they can learn the difference.
"It's the only time you're probably going to have kids say I can't eat anymore ice cream," Mr. Frank said.
How about a ride on a refurbished fire truck? It's all part of the charm. If you want Nostalgia - the soda shop will keep you coming back for generations.
WWL-TV reporter Leslie Spoon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow her on Twitter at @LeslieSpoonWWL