Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wichita's Old Mill Tasty Shop is what you want in your lunch pail

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM

The Old Mill Tasty Shop is a nice step back in time.
  • The Old Mill Tasty Shop is a nice step back in time.

Old soda fountains are like drive-in movie theaters: We've forgotten what makes them so special. And just like the moment when the opening credits finally come onto the screen as the sky darkens over a parking lot, the magic of every soda fountain lies in anticipation. 

While Fat City has tried to remind you of the joy of getting a chocolate malt from Fox's Drug Store in Raytown, you may not have experienced a classically mixed soda from the Old Mill Tasty Shop (604 East Douglas) in Wichita. 

click to enlarge The peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich is simple and satisfying.
  • The peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich is simple and satisfying.

The original soda fountain, which serves individually mixed sodas, limeades, shakes and malts, is the biggest attraction. The menu is a mix of sandwiches and Mexican dishes. If it's at a classic diner, it's probably served here. The green chili comes topped with mozzarella and a punch strong enough to clear my sinuses. The peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich on cake-sweet white bread is a perfect bite. 


The Old Mill Tasty Shop opened in 1932. Husband-and-wife team Erna and Otto Woermke installed the original 25-foot marble counter with a brass rail that still runs the length of the restaurant's right-hand wall. Open for 24 hours
click to enlarge The soda fountain lets you design your own drink.
  • The soda fountain lets you design your own drink.
a day in the 1940's, the sandwich shop remained in continuous operation until 1981.

It was closed for a year and renovated by the current owners, John and Mary Wright. Today, it feels like a college-town sandwich shop with actual history, the kind of place where you get a shake with your grilled cheese and tomato soup. Food is comfort, and the Old Mill Tasty Shop was a warm embrace on a windy, wintry day.

[Soda fountain image via The Wichita Eagle]

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