The Only Place You Can Find A Woolworth's Soda Fountain

Poodle skirts, sock hops, and soda fountains are all nostalgic memories of a bygone era. Going out and sharing a banana split at a counter is something most have only seen in movies and, at least for Millennials and Gen Zers, most have never experienced. Department store restaurants are a thing of the past and are almost impossible to find these days. The iconic Woolworth's store didn't even make it to the 2000s, closing its last U.S. store in 1997 (via Forbes). However, that's not to say that there are no Woolworth's Soda Fountains left.

Take a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, and you will find the last remaining Woolworth's Soda Fountain. Located in the renovated building of an old Woolworth, the Fountain that stands now is not connected to the department store but a modern take on the old chain. Woolworth Walk is an artistic shopping experience with two stories of art galleries filled with work from local artisans and a true-to-the-original Woolworth's Fountain replica. 

The original Woolworth opened in Asheville in 1938, and by the time its current owner, Scott Sirkin, bought it in 2001, it required lots of repairs. According to the Smoky Mountains, Sirkin went the extra mile to ensure Woolworth Walk was as close to the original store as possible — of course, minus health hazards like removing asbestos. The fully functional Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain resembles an original Woolworth's Luncheonette.

Woolworth's sandwiches with a side of art

If you're wary of grabbing a soda from almost hundred-year-old machinery, don't worry; only the space is original. The Fountain is a replica of Woolworth's Fountains, although, the menu is true to the original menu found at Woolworth's Luncheonettes. The menu includes blasts from the past like egg creams, club sandwiches, and old-fashioned ice cream sodas. There's also a great sandwich on the menu with a connection to the department store: the tuna melt. The sandwich is alleged to have been invented at a neighboring Carolina Woolworth. As the story goes, at a Woolworth counter in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1965, a busy cook was making a grilled cheese and didn't notice when a can of tuna salad poured onto the cheesy sandwich, thus making the first tuna melt (via NYT Cooking).

Customers can enjoy the iconic Woolworth's-inspired store, which is open to the public, with a snack from the Fountain. Come for the soda but wander for hours and see the 170 local artisans' booths in the two stories of galleries above the Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain.