MacAlpine's is located at 2303 N. Seventh Street in Phoenix. For more information, call 602-262-5545 or visit macalpinessodafountain.com.
© Jeff Kida
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MacAlpine'sNow in its 80th year, the coolest soda fountain in Phoenix is serving ice cream, burgers and a blast from the past.
By Hillary Griffith
Phoenix 1928. a lot happened that year. Walt Disney released his first Mickey Mouse cartoon. Penicillin was discovered. And MacAlpine's, a small pharmacy in Central Phoenix, opened its doors. The world has changed a lot since then, but the pharmacy, which became MacAlpine's Restaurant & Soda Fountain in 1991, has remained about the same.
Like most old drugstores, Mac-Alpine's featured a soda counter, which, although cracked and rusted, still stands today. In addition, the walls are covered with nostalgic pieces, including a huge Wrigley's Gum sign and a Coca-Cola poster; several diner booths with miniature jukeboxes complete the vintage feel.
Cary Heizenrader has owned the restaurant with his wife, Monica, for seven years. He appreciates the history of MacAlpine's, and tries to incorporate the building's past into the present.
"A lot of former employees and customers come in, and they haven't seen the place for 15 or 20 years," he says. "We haven't changed anything." The couple hopes to hear from others who remember the place fondly. Well-known fans from the past include Barry Goldwater and his family, Wayne Newton and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Naturally, the hostesses and servers dress in retro black-and-white skirted diner uniforms, designed with help from Amanda Newsum. If you're lucky, you'll meet Amanda, a perky waitress who looks like a cross between Betty Boop and Betty Grable, with her pinned-up hairdo and a 1940s red polka-dot dress.
The food, like the ambience, is simple, with several hot and cold sandwiches and four salads — nothing is more than $8. Standard diner fare is what MacAlpine's does best. The tuna salad sandwich is popular, and the Mac burger will make you think twice about ever ordering fast-food again.
And then there's dessert — a key part of the MacAlpine's experience. The old-fashioned shakes are made with six scoops of ice cream, and they're blended in a jadeite-green Hamilton Beach shake machine.
For a bonus blast from the past, you can browse the antiques store attached to the diner — look for things like a 1960s carousel horse and old phone booths. Although you might leave the shop empty-handed, you won't leave MacAlpine's with an empty stomach. They've been making sure of that for 80 years now.