SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WBRC) - Lisa Garrett and her family came south from Pennsylvania to Jackson County when her husband got a job offer in the area. Following his passing, she and her daughter Jessica Walton were looking for a new opportunity when they happened upon an old soda fountain in Scottsboro.
It turns out Payne’s Soda Shop had a history which predated the town itself. With a lot of work and an idea to turn back the clock, Lisa and Jessica recreated a destination stop with a lot of memories.
“We just thought it was a little sandwich shop, a little soda fountain. We didn’t know at the time that it had been around for 150 years and it’s just been really cool having that history and having this be the place that all the people in Jackson County have a little memory of. There’s this older gentleman, he comes in. He got engaged here. We helped somebody propose to their fiancée here by putting here by putting the ring in some ice cream,” says Jessica.
Lisa remembers, “The man that Jessica told you about that proposed to his wife here, he’s 80-something years old. He came in while I was working on the place and he told me, ‘This is where I proposed to my wife’ and he started crying and he left. I didn’t really think about that when I bought the place.”
Jessica admits, “We are kind of different than most diners in the sense that we don’t offer burgers. We don’t offer French fries, but I think we more than make up for it with our really good sandwiches. It’s just comforting food. It’s delicious. It’s ‘healthy adjacent’ if you skip the ice cream.”
Payne’s started as a drug store in 1869 by William Henry Payne, a year before Scottsboro was incorporated and has remained in the Payne family for 152 years. So, says Lisa, “We just kind of take care of it for them.”
Although they don’t dispense prescriptions anymore, Payne’s is now more famous for their red slaw hot dogs listed as one of the Top 100 Dishes You Must Eat in Alabama. Then, there is the soda fountain.
Jessica points out, “This is the original soda fountain. That’s a memory that people have, sitting at this soda fountain ordering their old-fashioned sodas and their ice cream cones. Every Thursday we have a special where anybody over the age of 65 can come in and get an ice cream for five cents. It’s something that we feel brings the community together.”
“We’ve got twenty-three flavors now. It’s really good and on nickel day it’s even better,” laughs Lisa.
“People have a memory here and we just wanted to preserve something like that.”
For anyone who wishes we could go back to the way things used to be, Payne’s is a place where your wish can come true. A return to The Way We Were.