In business since 1944, this independently-owned pharmacy is currently run by Charlie Smith. Mr. Smith is retiring soon, and so after today Memphians will have to go elsewhere to get their prescriptions filled.
Happily, the adjoining soda fountain and lunch counter will remain open for another month or two. I think it's about time for a chocolate milkshake, don't you?
Notice the gentleman outside removing the painted window sign (which I assume referenced their pharmacy services). While I was at the counter, he carefully painted on a new sign promoting their still-open lunch counter.
Can I just say how much fun I had on this particular food adventure? For starters, I struck up a conversation with a total stranger sitting next to me. A recently-graduated music major, she shared with me all about trying to "make it" in the local music scene while I, in turn, yammered on about minoring in voice in college, singing in church, etc. It's like, how serendipitous is it that two 20-something music geeks would be sitting next to each other at a 70-year-old soda fountain in Midtown?
I also had the pleasure of running into a precious friend with whom I attend church. She was treating her family to lunch, and told me all about how she'd been coming here since before even Mr. Smith was co-owner--when it was just "Wiles Drugstore."
Just a classic Memphis moment, running into friends and strangers and bonding over good food. Speaking of which--here's our milkshake!
Served old-school in a metal cup, love it :)
The milkshake was scrumptious of course, but today I feel like the food isn't really the point. Today is about appreciating a by-gone era, about taking time to spotlight a real piece of Memphis history. By this time I finished my shake (12:15), the lunch area was crawling with people: young, old, businessmen, women with babies, all taking a moment to pay homage to a place that's been around since FDR was in office.
Mr. Smith himself, ringing up my order. Such a sweet man, obviously touched and a bit emotional from the outpouring of community support.
Bottom line: Would I eat here again? Sadly that won't be possible. But I urge every person reading this to please stop by soon and say goodbye to this humble--yet iconic--bit of Memphis history. I promise you won't regret it!
Wiles-Smith Drug Store
1635 Union Ave
Memphis, TN 38104