Jun 102012

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week or two, you know that we love finding interesting places to eat as we explore America’s highways and back roads. Yesterday, my cousin Berni took us to what is considered the oldest continually operated soda fountain in the state of Michigan. What a treat!

Located in the small resort town of Montague, a few miles north of Muskegon, Lipka’s Soda Fountain is housed in a handsome brick building dating back to 1878, and has maintained a soda fountain ever since then. That was eight years before Coca Cola was even invented!


Patti Ream, who owns the business, said her father, Glen Lipka bought the building and the pharmacy in it in 1952, when he was just 23 years old and a recent graduate of the Pharmacy program at Ferris State University. The soda fountain was in operation and remained so, along with the pharmacy, which he ran until he retired in 2003. The pharmacy closed then, but Patti, who grew up working behind the counter, still keeps the soda fountain open.


Patti is of the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” school of management, and still does business the old fashioned way. She buys enough of the freshest, top quality ingredients to operate a week at a time, and pays her bills the day they come in. “I can’t ever imagine not running this place,” she said, looking around at the handsome old building with its hardwood floor and hammered tin ceiling. “But if I ever decide to close the door, that’s all I have to do, lock the door and walk away, with no bills to pay and nothing hanging over my head.”


I don’t imagine that will happen anytime soon, since Lipka’s is a Michigan institution and people come from far and wide to enjoy one of Patti’s milkshakes that you can sip through a straw, her ice cream sundaes, and cones. A small café in the back of the store serves delicious sandwiches and other goodies.

The soda fountain itself is almost all original, as are the milkshake machines, hot fudge dispenser, and other tools of the trade.


You can sit on a stool at the soda fountain, or relax at one of the tables in the room, which is decorated with a nice collection of old Coca Cola memorabilia, and other relics from the days when Patti’s father operated the pharmacy.


You never know who may come though the door next at Lipka’s; distinguished guests have included politicians, authors, and George Wendt, who played Norm on the old television series Cheers.

The next time you’re in west central Michigan, make it a point to visit the charming little town of Montague, and pay a visit to Lipka’s. Patti has never met a stranger, and I guarantee that she will make you feel welcome. And you’ll thank me after you get your first taste of the sweet treats she serves.

Lipka’s is located at 8718 Ferry Street in Montague, and is open daily except Sundays. If you stop in, tell Patti we said hello.

Thought For The Day – If an escalator breaks down, does it become stairs?

Register Now For Our Ohio Gypsy Gathering Rally

Check Out Nick’s E-books In Our E-Book Store

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  6 Responses to “Old Time Soda Fountain”

  1. Man. Real hot fudge. Whipped cream. And old fashion ice cr!eam. I am in on that

  2. When we moved east 9 years ago, the little tiny town we left also still has an old fashioned soda fountain…as well as one of those old variety type stores that sell some of everything!! FACINATING to spend time there. Nice folks too. Kind of like going back to about 1960 or so…if you are ever that far off the beaten path, it is in Eastern Washington state…the town is Dayton and it is about an hour from Walla Walla (yep the home of the sweetest onions you will ever eat…some years they taste no stronger than celergy…you can eat them like an apple!!) We moved back here to be closer to kin, but the 3 of us at that time, cried when we left too!!

  3. So Elizabeth, do you know Jake Davis from Dayton? He was our neighbor in an rv park about 3 years ago when we were both working on the windmill job at Vantage. Have been thru Dayton once since then on my way to check out another job, but never stopped there.

  4. We only lived in Dayton for 20 months, Ed, so no can’t say I have heard that name before. Sorry. We considered finding property and staying forever, but learning that our grandsons in Nevada were going to move to NC with their parents made us more. I am not sure we have seen them enough to have moved…but one can only do their best and we have. Hubby retired end of May and now we are going elsewhere. We are more or less vagabonds… We do know one of the guys in charge with the windmills however, who I think is still in Dayton. Tom Bensel. Nice folks….they inherited a bunch of our stuff when we downsized to move plus the kitty (that was theirs to start with but came with our rented house there). Nicest kitty ever…thought he was a dog and acted like one.

  5. Okay, you’re in Michigan, so you need to pick up some Sanders Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge to spoon over your ice cream when you can’t make it back to Lipka’s! Seriously excellent stuff…mmm…Sanders… 🙂

  6. Nick, , if you get to Jackson you can’t miss going to The Parlour. They
    originally made their own ice cream and had lines waiting to get inside.
    Back in 1973 the dairy bar was expanded to 100 seats and on a hot summer
    day there are still lines. Their trademark is a Dare to be Great sundae with
    21 scoops of ice cream, 7 toppings. It takes a boy scout troop to eat it
    all. Their Pecan Turrtle sundae is fabulous. They serve junior sizes for
    the timid. Our winter neighbors from Texas made sure to meet us there
    last year while they were in Michigan. We all had turtle sundaes and that
    was our lunch.
    While in Montague did you see the world’s largest weathervane?

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.