Monday, July 28, 2008

Losing weight with Ice Cream at Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain

Three questions I’ve been hearing a lot lately:

1. When are you going to start your weight loss contest? (This is very unfortunate, because I started two weeks ago…which makes that question a little demoralizing.)

2. Why did you have a weight loss contest at a Soda Fountain?

3. And the old favorite: Why don’t you have any money?

I’m not going to dignify the first with an answer; however, whenever I get asked in person, I do respond with “When are you going to get your eyes examined?”

After the first week of the weight loss contest, however, the Gargantuan Gang of 15 had in fact lost over 120 pounds. For full results, check my blog:

Now to the second and third questions: Interestingly, the answers are about the same.

The Soda Fountain referred to is Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain, a project I began about a year ago.

And I don’t have money, because I simply don’t…. some folks assume that I do, but it’s not true, as my friends, employees, and business associates can attest.

In the movie “Hello, Dolly”, there’s something along the lines of “Money is like fertilizer. You’re supposed to spread it around to make things grow”. I happen to believe that. Whenever I occasionally come across a little tad of money – emphasis on “tad” -- I try to put it to a good use. For instance, I think having this small community newspaper you’re reading is good for our community, because it helps neighbors get to know their neighbors and keep up with their local community. And it gives small local businesses and advertisers a way to compete with the big boys. So, years ago, I started putting all my “tads” of money into beginning this newspaper… and a few others in communities which needed newspapers of their own. Which sorta explains why I don’t have any money!!

A couple years ago, I came up with another idea which I felt might make a positive difference, and some of you have been watching this idea grow before your very eyes.

Like many of you, I worry about the decline in our society. I long for the good-ol- days. As the younger generation rushes toward the impersonal, fast-paced new world of the Internet, cell phones, fast food, shopping malls, and digital TV and music, I’m concerned that neighbors no longer have the time to get to know their neighbors.

It doesn’t feel right.

Whatever happened to slowing down, taking a few hours off, and just relaxing with friends or family?

It was a little over two years ago that an inspiration came to me:

What if there WAS such a place… like the good-old-days… old-timey and nostalgic. I remembered the Soda Fountains that were once the central gathering place for EVERY small town in America. Soda Fountains were where families gathered, neighbors met neighbors, and things were a lot simpler.

After looking around, I discovered that TRUE soda fountains… where beverages were mixed by hand almost any way you wanted one…. were totally a thing of the past in America. (Most of the soft drink machine company reps told me they didn’t even know you COULD make a cola without their fancy machines.) The leisurely, neighborly soda fountains which were once the fabric of our nation have long since been replaced by fast food chain restaurants. A great part of life was missing.

Frankly, I became fascinated with the concept of bringing back soda fountains to a new generation of Americans…. And for the last two years, have worked to develop the concept.

Along the way, we discovered that it was really about a lot more than the drinks, treats, and ice cream. It’s about having a family-friendly place to spend time, relax, and get to know your neighbors again.

For over a year now, Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain has been “unofficially” open as we’ve looked for ways to re-invent the soda fountain. We’re still not quite there yet…. But we’re getting closer, assembling our management team, and are hopeful of having our Grand Opening soon.

In the meantime, I want to personally invite anyone and everyone to drop by, check us out, and help us by giving your ideas and suggestions. We’re open Thursday through Sunday from 11am until 9pm, and will be open other times by appointments for catering, private parties, meetings and special events. We’re located at 7585 St. Andrews Road in Irmo (behind the Lizard’s Thicket and beside Carolina Wings.) For more information, you can visit

Frankly, I’d like your help to make this small dream of mine a success. And maybe, with your help, we’ll bring back a bit of Americana that can make the world just a little friendlier, happier place for all of us.

As always, I thank you for your support.

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Got something on your mind? Want to complain about my 10 year old picture? Just want to fuss at somebody today? Got ideas or suggestions? Send them to me via electric email: Or, for the Internet savvy, just post’em to my internet blog:

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