Monday, October 29, 2012

Avondale Pharmacy

January 1987

The Avondale Pharmacy was in Dilworth on Park Rd. It opened in 1947 (when the road was called Avondale Ave) and closed on January 21, 1986. Like most drugstores of the time, it's most popular attribute was it's lunch counter. It's eight-stool counter was always packed and featured everything from ice cream cones to burgers. Original owner Gordon Eldridge sold it to Bob Lewis in 1981 who ran it until it's closing in 1986. It transitioned into a Kerr Drugs and currently houses the popular eatery Fran's Filling Station. 

The drugstore lunch counter represented a bygone time in Charlotte restaurant history. The below article from 1987 paints a good picture of the culture and loyalty of the lunch counter:

"Picture a marble-topped counter - or at least a Formica one that looks like marble - lined with stools.
A straw dispenser, a milk shake machine, a glass-domed container full of
lemon meringue pie.
And maybe, if you`re lucky, a little grill for fixing hot dogs and BLTs.

The drugstore lunch counter was a beloved fixture on the American landscape during my growing-up years. You could find one tucked in a corner of every
pharmacy, every dime store, every town.
Now the counter is vanishing.
Being squeezed out by expanded cosmetic displays, automotive equipment
shelves, racks of best-sellers and all the other merchandise the discount drug chains offer.
Maybe luncheonettes aren`t as profitable.
But where, I wonder, do weary shoppers stop these days for a cup of coffee? How do kids survive without a freshly mixed, after-school cherry Coke?
And what do older folks do without a neighborhood hangout, a place they can count on for a simple lunch and a soul-nourishing visit?

The old-style luncheonette isn`t completely gone from the scene, thank
Here and there around Charlotte, a few survive: at several Woolworth`s, a
couple of aging Eckerd`s, and Avondale Pharmacy on Park Road, among others.
I often take my kids to Avondale`s eight-stool counter for ice cream cones. It`s a perfect spot for children - who love twirling on the stools,
dripping chocolate ice cream on the counter, and sticking straws out of their mouths to look like walruses.
Most of the regulars are older folks from the Dilworth and Sedgefield
neighborhoods. Some, I`m told, nurse a cup of coffee there for hours every
``I don`t know where else they`d go,`` an Avondale employee told me last
week. ``This is like a home to these people.``
So is the Eckerd`s on Providence Road, in a little shopping center behind
the A&P and the Town House.
And last week, when word leaked out that Eckerd officials planned to close
the Myers Park store`s counter, the regulars went wild.
``I don`t usually get this mad,`` said Joyce Cranfill of Queens Road West.
``But that little counter is a community institution for people from 8 to
``How can they let the profit motive supersede their community spirit? I`m
going to my garden club right now, and see if I can get a protest going.``
Margaret Harbison of Malvern Road was one jump ahead of her.
The minute she heard the news, Harbison drew up a petition asking Eckerd to keep the counter open. Within a few days, she`d collected more than 500 names. ``That kind of place is part of what makes a community,`` Harbison said.
``All sorts of people wanted to sign the petition - older people, families,
even kids.
``One little boy signed, and asked if he could put his dog`s name, too.
`` His name is Oscar Mayer,` the little boy told me. And he eats all the
leftovers.` ``
Eckerd officials - who took a lot of flak when they closed the counter at
Park Road Shopping Center a few months ago - sat up and took notice of the
Myers Park uprising.
``That closing has been postponed,`` Rose Houser of the district office
told me last week. ``We`re going to reevaluate the situation.``
Cranfill, Harbison and the other protesters were jubilant.
``We know it wasn`t an easy decision for Eckerd`s,`` Harbison said, ``but
we`re very grateful. With Charlotte growing so fast, it`s hard to lose the few old amenities we have left.``
I know what she means.

The Providence Road Eckerd`s may not have Charlotte`s biggest collection of lawn chairs, car care products, household goods and all the other stuff the
discount chains carry.
But I hear they make a mean hot dog."


  1. I miss lunch counters even though I never ate at this particular one. Did it close in 1986 or 1987?

  2. 5 Steps Down was the BEST a guy names Reg was the owners

  3. I'm the little kid in the picture! My mom used to take me there all the time. I loved their hot dogs and homemade cherry cokes. The employee behind the counter's name was Anne. Seemed like they didn't close until the early 1990's though.

  4. They move from the original location beside Martin's Hardware to the shopping center across from the American Red Cross. Not sure of the dates, but I miss the employees!