A traditional soda fountain is now open at Hinkle’s Restaurant in Columbia, which continues to be upgraded under owners who bought the borough landmark nearly two years ago.
The expanded area of the restaurant at 261 Locust St. was built in what was once Hinkle’s Pharmacy. Another part of the pharmacy was refashioned into Murphy’s Mercantile, a gift shop and general store that opened last fall.
The new area, which is between the Murphy’s Mercantile and the original Hinkle’s Restaurant, has seating for around 80, highlighted by a refashioned 1930s soda fountain with an ice cream dipping station that was built into parts of a century-old Columbia bar.
The soda fountain has 10 syrups for making traditional sodas as well as 16 flavors of Turkey Hill ice cream served in cones and dishes or as part of sundaes, milkshakes and floats. It it staffed by bow-tie wearing “soda jerks” reminiscent of young employees who traditionally operated drugstore soda fountains.
Hinkle’s Restaurant is owned by Don and Becky Murphy, who bought it in October 2017 when it was in danger of closing. The Murphys own numerous properties in downtown Columbia and are currently developing a hotel in part of a former chip factory on Second Street.
Don Murphy says the Hinkle’s soda fountain is meant to offer a nostalgic — and authentic — experience for customers. For example, Murphy said the counter has eight stools since that is the number once recommended by soda fountain manufacturer Bastian-Blessing for a town the size of Columbia.
Part of the 20-foot counter was built from wooden pieces of the former bar for the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Columbia. Pieces of the bar were found in a downtown Columbia property where the Murphys are developing their hotel. The soda fountain itself is a 1930s-era one used in York by Greene’s Ice Cream.
Don Murphy said adding the soda fountain and the new seating area cost around $110,000.
Work will continue at Hinkle’s as the original part of the restaurant, along with the kitchen, are now being upgraded. That work is slated to be finished by mid-September.