Sometimes, I get really intense food cravings. Yesterday, after lunch at Do, I wanted a milkshake, and I didn’t want to drive to the suburbs to get one.
After a bit of quick searching, I stopped by the Wiles-Smith Drugstore on Union Ave. Wiles-Smith is the oldest pharmacy in Memphis (they’ve been open since 1945). In classic old-school drugstore fashion, they’ve got a lunch counter and soda fountain.
I ordered a chocolate shake, which came in the metal mixing cup with an empty white plastic cup next to it. According to the super nice woman behind the counter, proper milkshake protocol is to pour the shake into the plastic cup and drink it through a straw. The shake was pretty much perfect – thick, creamy, chocolatey and hand-made.
If shakes aren’t your thing, you can also order malts, chocolate or vanilla sodas and sundaes. There’s also a small menu of lunch counter food (like sandwiches on toast, egg salad, soup).
Wiles-Smith is still a working pharmacy and drugstore. While the pharmacy and lunch counter were fairly busy, it looks like most of the store hasn’t been touched since at least the mid-1980s. The small selection of greeting cards is yellow with age and the shelves are sparsely stocked.
The weirdest thing in the store is the taxidermied critter that’s perched, mid-stalk, atop a small trophy case in the corner of the store. I asked the woman at the cash register what it was, and she said it was a balding porcupine. “I know it doesn’t really look like one,” she said. “But he’s been up there a while, and his needles are falling out.”
Before you indulge your soda fountain cravings, there are a few things you need to know. Wiles-Smith is incredibly old-school, which means that they only take cash and checks. The hours are also a little limited – they’re only open until mid-afternoon most days. If it’s after 4 p.m., your delicious milkshake will have to wait until the next day.
1635 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104