Tampa, FL — Ask your grandfather, he probably knows. Conjure the pharmacy soda shops of the early 1900s with any history buff, and sweet stories of ice cream and soda jerks will soon bubble up like so many fizzy concoctions.
Mortar & Pestle, a new business opening this fall in Old Seminole Heights, aims to revive these old-time traditions with a decidedly modern twist. Their 3,920-square-foot space combines two buildings, currently under construction at 6308 – 6310 N. Florida Ave., to bring an independent pharmacy and café to the district for those who crave a personal touch and handcrafted flavor.
Inspired by America’s historic mom-and-pop drugstores, Mortar & Pestle is designed to be a community gathering place and social hub. Visitors can fill everyday prescription needs at the modern, independent pharmacy, and relax in the adjacent café enjoying locally made sodas, espresso drinks, Florida craft beers, wines, desserts, and small plates.
Mortar & Pestle will deliver attentive service for everything from soothing an ache to soothing a sweet tooth, just as pharmacists of the past once filled prescriptions and mixed ice cream sodas with equal skill.
Corner drugstores became a fixture in American cities starting around the 1870s, and their popularity continued on through the 1950s, peaking in the 1920s when neighborhood bars closed due to Prohibition, and many traded hard liquor for soft soda drinks.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Seminole Heights community pharmacy Rose Drugs shut its doors. Owner Rose Ferlita closed the business in 2007 to concentrate on her work as a Hillsborough County Commissioner, and the neighborhood hasn’t seen an independent pharmacy since. They remain rare in the Greater Tampa area, numbering fewer than 10 today.
Mortar & Pestle’s grand opening this November will change the way people think about their neighborhood pharmacy. It opens the door to building new traditions, inspired by some of our oldest and best.
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