Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard lands new owners

The 130-year-old Doc’s Soda Fountain site in downtown Girard, Illinois, has landed new owners, and one of them has ties to the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

Steve and Casey Claypool of nearby Chatham, Illinois, closed on the purchase Friday. They plan to reopen it sometime in April after some interior renovations.

Casey also is executive director of the state’s Route 66 scenic byway program.

The Facebook page for Doc’s Soda Fountain made the announcement of the ownership change Saturday:

In a phone interview, Casey said she and her husband were prompted to buy the business “because of my relationship to Route 66.” Doc’s went up for sale last summer.

“I hated to see a Route 66 business close,” she said. “I couldn’t bear to see it go.”

Casey said she and her husband hold extensive experience in the restaurant business. An adult daughter who also has restaurant experience will be the general manager there.

Claypool said the pharmacy relics will remain, as well as much of its old-school charm. It will continue to serve ice cream and be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

She acknowledged Doc’s Soda Fountain would undergo a “slight name change” but wouldn’t elaborate.

She also didn’t give details on the Pharmacy Lounge aspect mentioned in the Facebook post, except to say “it will be a destination.”

Claypool said more details would be revealed later, probably in February.

A purchase price for the business was not disclosed.

Long term, she said she wants to revive Girard as “an active Route 66 community.” The business at 133 S. Second St. sits a stone’s throw from Illinois Route 4, the original path of U.S. 66 before the highway was realigned to the east during the early 1930s.

The Deck brothers ran Deck’s Drug Store at that location for many years. Bill Deck died at age 91 in 2018, and Bob Deck died at age 82 in 2013.

The Deck brothers’ grandfather started Deck’s Drug Store in 1884. The soda fountain dates to 1929.

Bob and Renae Ernst bought the drugstore building in 2007 and renamed it Doc’s Soda Fountain, and the Decks loaned them their pharmacy collection.

Doc’s closed “temporarily” on June 24, announced its Facebook account, then was put on the market shortly after that.

(Image of Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard, Illinois, by Bruce Wicks via Flickr)

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