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They say don’t shoot the messenger, so don’t be mad at me or Retro Roadmap Reader Mike Hauer, who was kind enough to update me that the Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville, TN is scheduled to close on August 1 because they are unable to pay their rent.

You can read the details here in the article Mike sent me.

We visited the soda shop – which has been open since 1939 – during our short visit to Music City and just had not written about it yet. The Elliston Place Soda Shop is the oldest continually operating (in one location) restaurant in Nashville. Elliston Place Soda Shop Vintage Sign Nashville TNThough we were fit to burst (well, I was anyways) we could not resist the call of the neon ice cream soda and air conditioned comfort. Retro Roadhusband also liked that it was right next door to a music store. Counter Elliston Place Soda Shop Nashville TN

They had your usual lunch counter style fare – award winning burgers, “Fresh Fruit Ades”, milkshakes and more. There was a table of sweet old ladies sitting right next to us who ordered the luncheon special – we ordered some fries and RRH got a chocolate milk shake.

Here’s the ladies enjoying their luncheon…

Ladies Who Lunch at the Elliston Place Soda Shop Nashville TN

And here’s wacky Retro RoadHusband, enjoying his milkshake (and maybe not enjoying my constant photo taking!)
Milkshake Surprise Elliston Place Soda Shop Nashville TN

There was a big juke box in the back of the soda shop, music professionals “talkin shop” at a nearby table and some cool (though not working) table top juke boxes.
Elliston Place Soda Shop Nashville TN  Table Top Juke Box
One of the understandable reasons the Soda Shop is closing is because business is down. Makes sense, as more people are eating at home.

But if we all don’t occasionally go and spend at the cool old places we love so much they won’t be there. And with places like Elliston Place Soda Shop the prices are reasonable, so it won’t break the bank for each of us, but it would make a difference in the long run.

So if you’re going out for a splurge or just a sundae remember, the money you spend locally is really investing in the kind of world you want to live in – small independent cool old places still existing and not being replaced by chains.

Best of luck to the Elliston Place Soda Shop folks, and thanks to Mike for the heads up.

Elliston Place Soda Shop
2111 Elliston Place
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 327-1090 ‎

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While w would have loved to stay at the posh Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, TN we did  scurry ourselves over there to witness the daily parade of ducks as they make their way to the fountain in the lobby, as they have every day since the 1930s!
Peabody Hotel BookThe place was an absolute madhouse of families and tourists all lined up on the red carpeted path from the penthouse elevator to the fountain, but it was fun to be part of this tradition. We managed to catch a quick glimpse of a duck butt or two as they waddled quickly to their aquatic destination, and I could not help but laugh at how quickly it was over. We did catch a glimpse of the elevator that takes the ducks from their penthouse suite to the lobby, and lo and behold, there’s an egg.

The Peabody Duck Egg Memphis TN

We decided to return to the Peabody later in the day when it wasn’t so crowded, and I’m glad I was able to get some shots of this glorious downtown hotel. As well as the ducks, up close and personal.

Here’s the beautiful centerpiece of the lobby, the Italian travertine marble fountain where the ducks swim daily:

Fountain at Peabody Hotel Memphis TN

And a closeup of the webfooted fiends and their little friends:

Peabody Ducks and Kids

So how did this tradition of the Peabody Duck March of the ducks start?

Funny enough it started with the General Manager returning from a hunting trip and thinking it would be funny to leave their live duck decoys in the fountain (much to the delight of guests). This tradition was given the added pomp and circumstance of the march when a bellman – who happened to be an ex-animal trainer for the circus was put in charge of the ducks. He trained the ducks to march (more like scurry) to the fountain to the strains of the Sousa King Cotton March and it has been a tradition at 11am and 5pm ever since.

This has also become a tradition at the Peabody hotels in Orlando and Little Rock.

Now onto the hotel!

The Peabody Hotel we see today was built in 1925, continuing the tradition and history of The Peabody hotel that had been on a different location in Memphis from 1869-1923. Built in an Italian Renaissance style it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Peabody Hotel Lobby

A destination in its heyday, The Peabody was famous for it’s rooftop “Skyway” venue – one of just three national locations for live radio broadcasts during the 1930s and 1940s.

Peabody Hotel Skyway Postcard ebay mikeleach

I may sound like a broken record when I remind readers of the dark times that many of these historic downtowns went through in the 1960s and 1970s, and Memphis was no exception. The Peabody closed down in 1975 but then was luckily saved and restored, to once again serve the public in 1981.The reopening of The Peabody is considered by many to have been a major inspiration for the downtown revitalization that continues to this day in Memphis.

One of the many interesting thing to note about the Peabody is that it has 13 floors – not a particularly lucky number to many. Because superstition is so strong about this number in many hotels, the Peabody has replaced the number 13 in their elevators with the letter S – for Skyway. Bad luck avoided!

House Phone

So if you’re in the mood for some silly swimmers or a swanky swig at the Grand Lobby Bar (named by Esquire as a Top Ten Best Watering Hole in America) waddle on over to the Peabody!

The Peabody Hotel
49 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 529-4000

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Would you believe that we weren’t even planning on going to the Sun Studio tour while we were in Memphis? Wacky, huh? But when we saw this gigantic Gibson glowing in the morning sun, we had to investigate. So glad we did, as the tour ended up being a highlight of our entire visit to town.

Sun Studio Tour Memphis TN

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As I mentioned during our visit to the Silver Skillet in Atlanta GA, the presence of authentic “boomerang” formica usually means a good meal awaits – as was the case with our breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, TN.

Arcade Restaurant Boomerang Formica(a silly smiling girl in the background doesn’t hurt either!)

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OK, I know you’re probably saying that “The Rodeway Inn in Memphis IS part of a chain” – but this renovated and well kept vintage motel was more like a mom and pop – and nicer than a few of the places we had stayed so far on our retro road trip! Just take a look at how huge our room was, as we stumbled in after our 11+ hour drive to Memphis, dinner at Gus’s and night on Beale Street:
Rodeway Inn Memphis TN Room Interior

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We drove from Austin, TX to Memphis, TN in record time, just so we could partake of the world famous fried chicken at Gus’s. If that isn’t a carrot (chicken leg) dangling in front of you to make you step on the gas I don’t know what is!

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken Sign (more…)

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Union Station in downtown Nashville TN is one of a handful of beautiful old train stations converted into hotel space (remember the Lackawanna Train Station Hotel in Scranton we went to a few months back?) Built in 1900 it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. It’s quite a grand sight along popular Broadway in Downtown Music City USA.

Union Station Hotel Nashville TN Exterior
While RetroRoadhusband and I were not able to stay at Union Station the folks there were very gracious in letting me snap a few photos, and gave me some brochures detailing the amenities of this luxury Wyndham Grand Hotel (also one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s designated Historic Hotels). You can tell the scale of the architecture by just looking at how dwarfed RetroRoadhusband is when compared to the fireplace and clock above!

Union Station Nashville TN Fireplace (more…)

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