This part of our Alabama Adventure is all about Payne’s Sandwich Shop & Soda Fountain. Payne’s was first opened in 1869 and was a combination drug store/soda fountain.
HH & I discovered Payne’s on our first day in Scottsboro on the way to Unclaimed Baggage. We drove by in the afternoon and Payne’s was closed with no hours posted, but clearly in business, so a few days later we stopped by at lunch time and knew it was okay when we saw locals lunching.
HH & I were greeted with “Sit anywhere,” by, what turned out to be, Paula. Then we sat down and looked at the chalk board behind the soda fountain to decide on lunch as Dean walked by (we learned his name later) and said to HH “Don’t run a restaurant when you retire,” and he walked away. HH & I looked at each other and smiled and mulled over the lunch menu.
|Dean, behind the counter fixing lunches from the orders on the clothespins|
Dean came back to our table to take our order, HH had the daily special which featured chicken, and I had the grape & nut chicken salad sandwich. The next question, what did we want to drink – fountain drink or can? I asked for a Coke with cherry syrup from the fountain, HH had a root beer from the fountain. Paula served our drinks and said if we didn’t like them, let her know, fountain drinks aren’t always what we are used to tasting from a can. She wants effectively “selling” the fountain drinks and although they tasted a little different, they were delicious.
We enjoyed our lunch, Dean visited a little more, Paula visited with everyone along the way and we decided we needed to come back for malts at the counter later on. As we left, we decided to take a few photos out front and as another family approached the man said, “They must not get out much!” We introduced ourselves to Jimmy, as the rest of his family went inside Payne’s. We told Jimmy we were from San Diego, which sparked, “Then why are you here in Scottsboro?” Anyway, Jimmy was in town for his 40th high school reunion and told us lots of stories including the one about visiting Payne’s regularly when he was a kid to have a soda after school.
|Paula behind the counter|
HH & I went off to do a few things, more geocaching in Scottsboro, then we made it back to Payne’s about a half hour before closing to belly up to the counter for malts. HH got a butter pecan malt and I got a vanilla malt. We visited with Paula and Dean (she said it would be easy to remember their names with that combination), the other folks at the counter and learned that they were open from 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM Monday – Friday. Yet they are on-site from 5:30 AM – about 5 PM each day, Dean was right, don’t work in a restaurant when you retire – it’s too much work!
|Paula fixing a malt|
Payne’s was such a bright, fun, spirited local diner in the heart of Scottsboro with ties and threads and attachments connected to that community. The food was great, the malts were delicious, but Paula and Dean and the other locals are really what made it a wonderful place to stop. Next time you are in Scottsboro, AL stop by Payne’s and tell Paula and Dean that Holly’s Diner sent you.