At the newly opened HubCap Cafe, visitors can step back
in time to when soda jerks were still making shakes and
ice-cream sundaes behind the counter and the waitresses
were on roller skates. The 1950s-style cafe opened Dec.
3 at the America On Wheels Museum. The cafe will open for
daily operations in February.
Decor: There are hubcaps that dangle from the ceiling,
a mint green milkshake machine, and a soda fountain that’s
been under wraps since 1963. The authentic Bastian & Blessing
soda fountain came from the former Weber’s Pharmacy in
Lyons, Ind. Executive Director Linda Merkel says the 23-foot-long
fountain came complete with soda bar, grill, shelving
and the original tables, booths and stools from the pharmacy.
“I believe that when our visitors
come to our museum, there should be an extension to their
visit,” Merkel says. “We’re all about history and going
back in time. What is more appropriate than a 1950s cafe?”
Ribbon cutting: The museum celebrated its time-capsule
restaurant with a ceremony for more than 200 guests, including
Pa. state Sen. Pat Browne. Guests dined on meatloaf and
macaroni and cheese, all of which came served in TV dinner
trays. According to a news release issued by the museum,
the $200,000 project was funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania
Department of Community and Economic Development. Merkel
says it took two years to secure funding and another nine
months for construction.
Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS. The business area
of The Hubcap Cafe inside the America on Wheels museum
in Allentown. The soda fountain and various pump dispensers
have all been restored to original condition.
Old-fashioned fun: There are games on the cafe
tables and a jukebox in the corner that’s cranking out
the oldies. Drinks are served in green Coke glasses and
kids can wear their own soda jerk hats.
Flavor: Currently the cafe is triple booked for
private events, but when it opens to the public, they’ll
be serving up hot dogs, ice-cream sundaes, milkshakes,
coffee, soup and ice-cream floats. They’ll even serve
pizza for kids straight out of a vending machine. The
space can be booked for corporate events and root beer
socials with outside catering available. Kids can play
the role of soda jerks at their own birthday parties.
“Whoever thought going back in time
would be so popular,” Merkel says. “I believe families
should come in and have some old-fashioned fun again.”
A delicious accident: One of the menu standards
will be a legendary drink as old as the soda fountain.
A cherry accident was just that — a fortuitous mistake.
When the soda jerk went to make a cherry soda he forgot
the soda, filling the glass instead with cherry syrup,
sugar and seltzer. Merkel says the drink has a sugary
kick and will cost $2.
“Diner food back then was very inexpensive
and we’re going to try to keep that going for families,”
Merkel says, adding that prices are still being worked
Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS. No soda fountain
would be complete without a Seeburg Jukebox like the one
at the Hubcap Cafe inside the America on Wheels museum
Events: In March, Friday nights will be drive-in nights
at the cafe. Black and white classics will be shown on
the cafe’s big screen TV, free with the purchase of a
Coming attractions: If you’d like to get a sneak peek
at the cafe, enjoy free admission day (with the donation
of a new, unwrapped toy) Saturday.
Visitors can listen to holiday tunes from 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday at the museum.
On Wednesday, visitors can also get $1 off admission.
Click here for more events at America On Wheels Museum.
Hours and prices: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through
Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission costs $9 for adults, $6 for seniors over 62
and students 6 to 16 years old. Kids 12 and under are