Sumter Cut Rate Soda Fountain Serves Americana

By:Page Ivey


When I was a little girl, my grandmother, her brother and sister-in-law would meet at the Rose’s soda fountain for a cup of coffee. When I joined them, they would buy me a Coke or an ice cream float on special days. Sometimes Uncle Jimmy would have a sandwich. 

Today, youngsters get a little taste of this at some big-box retailers that have fast-food chains located inside the store, but if you want to share a soda fountain slice of Americana with your kids, take them over to the Sumter Cut Rate Soda Fountain – a Main Street tradition since 1935.

The décor of the soda fountain looks a little more 1980s than 1930s, but the two horseshoe-shaped counters with silver and red stools definitely screams mid-20th century.

We stopped for breakfast recently and ran into a wonderful collection of regulars who discuss everything from politics to their plans for the day and to recollections of gridiron glory.

Grandpas and grandsons were eating at the counters, and young families with babies in carriers filled the large booths near the windows.

The food was basic diner fare, but with some of the best grits I have ever had in a diner. Eggs and bacon or sausage rounded out the Southern breakfast.

For lunch, Cut Rate serves meat-and-three style plates with entrees ranging from pork barbecue and brisket to its own claim as the “Undisputed Chicken Salad Champions of the World” (I’ll let you all be the judge of that.)

Breakfast was very reasonable, less than $15 for two with coffee and tip. After eating, we did a little shopping in the store, then strolled down Sumter’s very vibrant Main Street with shops and cafes.

It’s definitely worth the drive to take a trip back in time.

Sumter Cut Rate Soda Fountain, 32 South Main St. is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Reach them at (803) 773-8432.

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