Published July 29, 2012
Building owner opens old-time soda fountain in central OlympiaROLF BOONE
It’s funny how the inspiration for a business can come at any time. Business and building owner Larry Brown, 74, was one day painting his downtown Olympia building when a guy in a car suddenly pulled up, asking where he could get an ice cream cone. Brown didn’t have an answer for him at the time, but the query planted an idea for a future business. Meanwhile, Brown, who owns the historic Angelus building, which has both residential apartments and street-level commercial tenants, had a vacancy to fill after an antique business departed. Unable to fill the spot to his satisfaction, Brown decided it was time to get into the ice cream business. The result is Grandpa’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Parlor, a business that goes back to a different time. It has schoolhouse lights, a jukebox playing oldies, a pressed-tin ceiling, a long counter with stools that spin and historic photographs on the wall. One photo shows the Angelus building in the 1930s. Ice cream sodas, shakes and malts are among several items on the menu, including a soft serve ice cream cone that sells for $1, Brown said. “That’s deliberate so anyone can come in and get an ice cream,” he said. Business is booming. It opened in early July, about the same time summer weather finally arrived in Olympia, and has been so busy that the business recently ordered 21 gallons of ice cream. One of the more popular flavors is called Mukilteo Mud, said employee and granddaughter Michaela Labit. “We just go through it,” she said. So many people have lined up for ice cream that it also has increased customer activity at next-door businesses. The Angelus building has several retail tenants, including a women’s fashion store called Lily’s What to Where, run by owner Dana Scott. Her business has colorful lanterns that hang outside, and she made a lantern in the shape of an ice cream cone for Brown’s business. Customers are showing up excited to try Grandpa’s, Scott said. “It’s making the whole block interesting to people,” she said, adding that she and the other tenants are working to make “our block the best block in town.” Grandpa’s is in Olympia at 208 Fourth Ave. W. Its hours are 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturdays; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays.