Girl drinking shake at Elliston Soda shop
Personal Work

Made in America: Elliston Place Soda Shop

By Sheri Oneal

With everyone striking up their grills for Independence Day, I wanted to share some photos for my Made in America series of the iconic Nashville restaurant “Elliston Place Soda Shop.”  As one of the oldest eating establishments in Nashville it represents the simplicity of American food. I didn’t live in that time when date night was a burger and a shake and soda shops were as common as fast food chains but my parents did and they remember it well. I do remember sitting at the soda fountain at Woolworth as a child with my grandmother eating grilled cheese sandwiches and I loved the show “Happy Days!”

Originally a drugstore soda fountain, The Elliston Place Soda Shop became a restaurant in 1939 after being bought by Lynn Chandler. Now owned by Charlie Galbert, the restaurant shines of red & yellow decor encased by red & white tiled walls and stainless steel counters. Small jukeboxes align the wall at each table. The long counter sports gooseneck soda spouts and rows of milk shake mixers surrounded by stools and tables. The menu is all American offering breakfast, burgers, fries, shakes and sundaes as well as meat-n-three daily specials. Elliston is best known for it’s milk shakes especially the chocolate and malt flavors.

Soda shops, sometimes called malt shops (because of the malt sweet milkshake flavoring) originated in 1903 and many times were found intertwined with drugstores. They are becoming harder to find these days especially the original ones like Elliston. In 2011 the owners announced they would be closing the soda shop because of an increase in their lease and a sluggish economy. The media jumped in and people started flooding the restaurant in hopes of keeping it open. The landlord re-negotiated a new 5 year deal with the owners and they renewed the lease, my hope is that it will remain even when that lease is up sometime in 2016.

I have wanted to photograph this iconic location since the first day I drove past it! Due to its decor and popularity it has been included in films and videos and the owner now charges a fee for any professional imagery. Fortunately last year I was working on a tourism campaign and was allowed to shoot the restaurant for that assignment…I took full advantage of the opportunity!

Made in America: Elliston Soda Shop

Made in America: Elliston Soda Shop

Made in America: Elliston Soda Shop

Made in America: Elliston Soda Shop

If you live in Nashville and you haven’t visited this small establishment you should, as with all family owned businesses there is no guarantee how long they will be around….I recommend a shake! The Elliston Place Soda Shop is located at 2111 Elliston Place Nashville, TN 37203  (615) 327-1090.

I continue to look for interesting story ideas in the Nashville area and need help finding unique small business individuals. If you are a small business owner with a story, offer a unique product and/or service or know of someone please let me know!  Message me with your suggestion and your phone number so I can review it and contact you if I feel it will work with this new blog series. If chosen I will schedule a photoshoot, write up a story line with your approval, post it within my blog and social media space and market it across the web. I will also allow you to use the blog link for your own promotion. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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