Another Soda Fountain Bites the Dust? Paulsen’s Pharmacy Has Closed

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The soda fountain at Paulsen’s Pharmacy in 2014. Photo credit: Wikimedia

Yesterday I learned from the Hollywood Boosters that Paulsen’s Pharmacy (4246 Sandy Blvd) has closed. Today I came across a post from Chris Balo in the Dead Memories Portland public Facebook group with more details:

“On Wednesday 1/27/2021, Paulsen’s Pharmacy closed it’s doors for the last time. My parents worked there, my dad Gary since 1970 and my mom Karen from 1984 until their retirement in 2016 when they sold the business. It’s hard to see this place close after 103 years in business. My family and I have so many fond memories of this place after it played a major part of our lives for so many years. One of Portland’s only 2 remaining soda fountains is now gone.”

That other soda fountain he is referring to is in Fairley’s Pharmacy, and that business has been sold. The future of Fairley’s soda fountain is unknown, but COVID has closed it down, in any case. I have hope that its soda fountain will return.

The Dead Memories Portland post has a lot of comments, filled with reminiscing about Paulsen’s in its heyday. There are also comments regarding how Paulsen’s fared in its final half-decade of life and what during that time may have triggered its closing. In case you’re wondering, the pharmacy’s records were sold to Rite-Aid.

I remember stopping in back in 2016 and having a nice conversation with the guy behind the soda fountain. He made us a really good iced espresso with ice cream (a sort of affogato). I thought, “how cool is it to have a real soda fountain a 10 minute walk away?”). But not too long after that they started to be closed more often, even on Saturdays, and it became clear that hanging at the soda fountain was not going to happen very often, if at all.

Here’s hoping something great comes along in that space—maybe even another soda fountain.

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.
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