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The Prescription for Tasty Beverages

By Staff | Jul 15, 2008

There are two types of jerks in this world — former friends who capriciously pursue your ex-girlfriends and those who mix unsuspecting fruit flavors with soda syrup and carbonated water.

Griffith and Feil Pharmacy, located in Kenova, W.Va., employs the latter.

I suppose the term soda jerk may be outdated and possibly even maligned as politically incorrect in some circles, but this isn’t about arguing semantics. This is about why you should dine at an establishment that appears and sounds as though it could have been frequented by Richie Cunningham, Potsy Webber and Ralph Mouth.

Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Dr. Pepper with its 23 flavors, and many other hybrid sodas have proliferated our palates in recent history. Personally, I think that after 22 flavors, you’re just showing off. That goes for you too, Baskin Robbins. But for those of you who think you have experienced flavored soda, think again. Griffith and Feil Pharmacy offers you the ability to mix any Coke product with virtually any flavor you can name. When you inquire as to what flavors they have available, the wait staff literally precedes their response with a long, deep breath.

This may be a sigh of exasperation, since I ask the same question every time I visit, hoping for the mention of some previously unknown or undiscovered flavor, but the point remains — they have a lot of choices when it comes to spicing up your Diet Coke.

My only word of caution is for the naive, existential, uninitiated soda junkie; resist the temptation to order chocolate in any soda. It’s difficult to believe, I know, but it’s awful. You’re not going to succeed where so many, including myself have failed. It is akin to “The Goonies” scene, in which Mikey uncovers the bones of a former treasure hunter and the Goonies all relegate themselves to a cold, damp death before somehow surviving. It’s exactly like that, but without hope. Goonies may never say die, but there is no combination of flavor that makes chocolate soda of any variety palatable. And if you attempt to violate this rule, you may just wish you were dead.  

Inside the restaurant portion of the building, which is divided into a pharmacy in the rear and dining area in the front, you won’t find the words “sit on it” prophetically scribbled on the bathroom stalls, but you will find a jukebox full of Patsy Cline records and similar old-school tunes. The bar and the soda fountain are downright decadent. The menu, however, is a one-sided, laminated Microsoft Word document, which isn’t necessarily expansive in its choices. The chairs are flimsy, but I attribute this to the onset of obesity in America. The furniture hasn’t changed; our asses have just grown fatter.

In keeping with that particular aesthetic, I suggest you order the appetizer tray, which comes with three appetizers of your choosing. The choices range from chicken strips to cheese sticks, which are pretty much the gamut of the average college student’s diet. The menu also offers sandwiches, burgers, fries and other simple items. This place has good food, but you’re not going to find chicken cordon bleu or salisbury steak on the menu, so keep it simple, stupid.

Waiting for your food, you may notice the nostalgic items strewn across the walls and booths. There are pictures of previous owners and photographs of turn of the century Kenova, which make the city look aristocratically charming compared to present day. Gazing out the store windows today, all you can see is a grocery store parking lot, a bank and a white Chevy Lumina. There is also a profusion of Marshall University regalia and framed testimonials from local celebrities adorning the walls.

All indications are that Michael W. Smith loves this damn place. I gather this from the fact that he seems to have unwittingly autographed nearly everything in the restaurant. In a town that seems to have never grown tired of two things (Smith and the Pumpkin House), Griffith and Feil holds its own with a long history, which I won’t spoil for you. It’s written on the walls, literally.

The staff is comprised predominantly of high school students and women who probably used to cook in said high school cafeterias. Unlike those sadists, however, they leave the scowl and misanthropic nature behind them, and while still donning hairnets, serve up food infinitely better than the square pizza and paltry servings of corn of yesteryear. Who decided pizza and corn went together in the first place? I have never eaten anywhere else where these two items were combined. I may run for school board just to investigate and address this issue personally. Then again, I may just write a letter, an anonymous letter.

Or I may do nothing. I’ll probably do nothing.

The price range for the restaurant isn’t steep at all. Two people can easily satisfy their hunger for under $15, including the tip.

If you’re in the area and in the mood for a cherry lime orange raspberry Sprite, which I’m sure happens to you all the time, stop by and munch on some chicken fingers while waiting for your grandmother’s meds to get refilled. When it comes to killing time in between your fixes, you really can’t beat it. 

Contact Cory at letters@graffitiwv.com