• Brandi Perry

Historic Payne's Soda Shop

Located on the courthouse square in Downtown Scottsboro, Payne’s Soda Fountain and Sandwich Shop is the oldest soda shop in Alabama. Walking into the historic diner is like stepping back in time, ushering in days where the juke box played all the newest songs, restaurant goers could sit at the bar on turning seats, and soda jerks went to work mixing your favorite blend of flavors.

Opened in 1869 after local druggist William Henry Payne returned from the Civil War, his first shop sat on the northwest corner of the square, just a couple of blocks away from where its current home. The Jackson County Courthouse was built in 1891 and Payne soon moved his business where it stands today.

The business served predominately as a drug store until 1939 when Payne added the soda fountain. Since then, hand-churned milkshakes and soda floats have drawn visitors from all across the country. Payne’s was also one of the first locations in the region to serve up Coca-Cola by combining the syrup and carbonated water. That special mix would have only set you back a nickel. At one point, there was a such a craze for their Coca-Cola, banana splits, and other hand-churned items that the owner had to hire multiple soda jerks to keep up with the demand. We can only imagine what a scene that would have been with a packed audience watching the soda jerks doing their thing.

The pharmacy portion of the businesses closed in 1991 and they went to a full-service sandwich shop. Today, the menu includes all the items you expect to find in a historic eatery, plus a spin on some of the newer items. Red and white slaw dogs have been around almost as long as the restaurant has been open as has many of their sandwiches. Additionally, the diner also now has somewhat of a 1950’s vibe where the décor is concerned. The walls are slammed full of memorabilia that transcends time and showcases the wonderful and wide-spread history of the soda fountain.

When we visited this spectacular location, we had chicken melt and Italian Stallion as well as a hot fudge sundae. There is something amazing about food you know has been made with the same love and care for over a century. Plus, the massive Coca-Cola mural on the side of the building offers special photo opportunities for all visitors.

There are so many cool places that we get to see on our travels but this one combines some amazing history with delicious food. Next time you are within an hour of Scottsboro, Alabama, Payne’s absolutely needs to be on your list.

Payne’s is located at 101 E Laurel St. in Scottboro and is open Monday through Wednesday 10am-4pm and Thursday-Saturday 10am-6pm. Plus, if you fall into the Senior Citizen category, you get ice cream for 5 cents on Thursday. A trip to Scottsboro is special and a walk around downtown will be just what you need after filling up on their delicious food.