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A blast from the past in downtown Olympia

Grandpa’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Parlor serves up cool treats

SERVICE WITH A SMILE: Grandpa’s employee Adrienne Compton, dressed sharply in her red and white striped apron, whips up milkshakes, malts, ice cream sodas and slushies. Nikki Talotta

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It was Saturday night and Grandpa's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Parlor in Olympia was packed. A group of teens huddled near the granite counter tops, debating between hard and soft ice cream, an older couple enjoyed a waffle cone at an intimate table and families with young children eagerly looked over the menu.

With the counter help dressed in red and white striped aprons, a jukebox playing oldies, candy jars with saltwater taffy and walls decorated with pictures of Marylyn Monroe and historic Olympia photographs, Grandpa's definitely feels nostalgic.

Not only does the shop have distinct feel of the 1950s and 60s era, it also pays homage to the turn of the century.

 "The building was built in 1897," says owner Larry Brown. "I wanted to keep that feel. I drove to all the old-fashioned places; I tried to make it not just one particular era."

Behind the counter is a sarsaparilla pole from 1893 and there is a 1916 shake maker as well as one from the 50s.

Grandpa's opened July 2 and boasts more than 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream which employees blend on the spot. All the classic flavors are available, twists can be made and even specialty flavors, such as the recent limited-time offer of jalapeño soft serve, are on the menu.

"We make it to order, so it does take a little extra time," says employee Adrienne Compton.

"We're not McDonald's by any means, but we do try to be quick," she adds with a laugh.

Grandpa's also offers milkshakes and malts, ice cream sodas, slushies, hard scoop ice cream from Olympic Mountain, and screams, which are slushies layered with soft serve.

The most popular flavor sold that day?

"Mukilteo Mud," says Compton. "It's from Olympic Mountain and is a blend of four different chocolates. It's very rich and decadent."

Compton's personal favorites are huckleberry, pistachio and anything with blackberry.

Not since some 20 years ago when Especially Yogurt sat on the corner of Capitol Way and 4th Ave. has downtown Olympia had a place that caters to the cold and delicious sweet tooth of its residents.

"I can't tell you how many customers are have told me how bad Olympia needed an ice cream parlor," Compton says.

Located at 208 4th Ave, with the fountain park around the corner and children's museum right down the road, Grandpa's is a great place for family fun. And with its late-night hours (open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, until 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday,) Grandpa's is a great place for late-night munchies with an old-school twist.

"Everyone loves the atmosphere," says Compton. "It's like the world stops when you come in."

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