New owner says he won’t change old-fashioned soda fountain

August 1, 2016 GMT

WILTON, Iowa (AP) — The new owner of a famed, old-fashioned soda fountain has no intention of changing anything at the eastern Iowa landmark.

The Candy Kitchen in Wilton has been closed since the June 2015 death of owner George Nopoulos, who was 95. He was known for serving banana splits, chocolate sodas and other treats with a smile, singing, whistling and joking behind the marble counter.

It was the site of first dates and coffee meetings, a place where the regulars started going as children and eventually took in their own kids and grandkids.

The Candy Kitchen is on the National Register of Historic Places. Entertainment figures such as Gregory Peck and Brooke Shields have eaten there and President Dwight Eisenhower and politicians of various stripes have made campaign stops.

Nopoulos’ father, Gus, opened the Candy Kitchen in 1910, after it had closed under a different name. George started working there in 1926 — a 6-year-old standing on a chair, cranking a Victrola to entertain farmers with music on Saturday nights.

The new owner is a 48-year-old funeral director, Lynn Ochiltree, who said he bought it to save it and its place in local history.

“It may be a surprise to some to learn that I, a funeral director from far-off Winterset, Iowa, have bought this historic place,” Ochiltree told the Quad-City Times (http://bit.ly/2aJ8cTR ). “But it will not be somber, as my profession suggests.”

“It will stay as is,” he said his new enterprise.

But there will be behind-the-scenes changes. The building’s sag is being addressed, and there will be some modernization to comply with building and board of health regulations and some new wiring.


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com