The Dundalk Eagle

Grab a cool treat at Drug City’s new­est fea­ture, The Foun­tain

- Dundalk, MD · CVS Pharmacy · Baltimore · Baltimore County

Drug City cus­tomers can now visit the es­tab­lish­ment for a “blast to the past” when go­ing for their pre­scrip­tions and other items.

Drug City an­nounced the open­ing of The Foun­tain, a 1950s-style diner that sits in the part of the store where Tan City was once lo­cated. Drug City owner Ge­orge Fo­tis told the Ea­gle that he de­cided on a “not-so-grand” open­ing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t know ex­actly how the idea gen­er­ated, but I thought, ‘let’s bring the foun­tain back,” said Ge­orge Fo­tis, the owner of Drug City.

“I thought this was a great spot (to put The Foun­tain). Peo­ple seemed to get ex­cited ev­ery­time I men­tioned the idea. Now, here we are.”

Fo­tis said Tan City was pop­u­lar when it ex­isted, not­ing that sev­eral peo­ple in the Dun­dalk area have told him as much. He wanted to choose a dif­fer­ent av­enue to uti­lize the open space, he said.

One idea he con­sid­ered was to place an ur­gent care clinic in­side the store. Fo­tis said he thought a clinic would work syn­er­gis­ti­cally with the phar­macy. He soon found out, how­ever, that bring­ing in a clinic was much more dif­fi­cult than he thought.

“Just all the things like you see at CVS, minute clin­ics, Tar­get and things like that, Fo­tis said.

“I tried a few times on that, and it was overly com­plex. I felt like we were get­ting mus­cled out at every op­por­tu­nity. They made it very dif­fi­cult, and I

couldn’t get any trac­tion.”

The Foun­tain opened to the public on Sept. 16. Fo­tis said the first day was suc­cess­ful, but stress­ful. No one at the store has any ex­pe­ri­ence in the food in­dus­try, he said. Ev­ery­one had to learn as they went along.

“We have to work some kinks out,” Fo­tis said. “I re­ally think we made a good de­ci­sion. I think the com­mu­nity is happy, and we’ll make a good go of it.”

Part of the space in­side The Foun­tain was once sev­eral small rooms. Fo­tis said some walls had to be knocked down so that part could be trans­formed into a full-ser­vice kitchen. He pur­chased all new kitchen equip­ment, and found most of the props and uten­sils sit­ting at and be­hind the bar on eBay™.

“I spent a lot of time on eBay,” Fo­tis said. In the cor­ner of The Foun­tain is an old juke­box al­ready loaded with sev­eral hits from the 1950s and 1960s. Ta­bles and chairs are avail­able for din­ing in. Masks and so­cial dis­tanc­ing are re­quired when en­ter­ing The Foun­tain.

The Foun­tain of­fers an as­sort­ment of re­fresh­ing treats, from coke and root beer floats, to sun­daes and ba­nana splits. Fo­tis said Drug City makes its own cola and root beer for the floats. Drug City gets its ice cream at The Foun­tain from Ta­harka Brothers Ice Cream in Bal­ti­more City.

The Foun­tain’s first cus­tomer David Byus, who was born and raised in Dun­dalk. He saw Drug City’s Face­book™ post about

The Foun­tain’s open­ing. He thought it was a busi­ness named Drug City in an­other city at first, since he didn’t know of any such place in­side the Dun­dalk es­tab­lish­ment.

“I came in and had a cup of cof­fee, and then came back later with my wife and had some so­das, and I’m go­ing to try the lunch to­day,” Byus said.

“I think this is fan­tas­tic. It has a great look to it, and it had a nice smell when I came in. You could smell stuff bak­ing. It has this old­timey soda foun­tain look.”

Byus paid for his cof­fee with cash, and Fo­tis taped his $1 bill to the wall be­hind the bar. It is on dis­play for all to see. Feel­ing the eco­nomic im­pact

Fo­tis said Drug City has felt the crunch dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pandemic, like so many busi­nesses in Dun­dalk and around south­east Bal­ti­more County. His big­gest chal­lenge, he said, was hav­ing enough em­ploy­ees on-hand each day to sat­isfy the dayto-day op­er­a­tions.

Drug City has a work­place pol­icy that re­quires em­ploy­ees to stay home if they are show­ing symp­toms of be­ing ill. “Our pol­icy is, if you’re not feel­ing well, you stay home,”

Fo­tis said.

“I’ll still pay you, but I don’t want you com­ing in. I don’t want peo­ple com­ing in sick. I don’t think I’m be­ing taken ad­van­tage of, but peo­ple do take that and ac­tu­ally run with it.”

Fo­tis said he has em­ploy­ees who have worked at Drug City for a long time and can fit in at any sta­tion in­side the busi­ness.

“It’s been ab­so­lutely tough,” Fo­tis said. “I feel hor­ri­ble for a lot of the stores that can’t say the same thing I’ve said. They prob­a­bly wouldn’t mind be­ing stressed. They just want to be open and have an op­por­tu­nity.”

 ?? PHOTO BY MIKE URSERY ?? Drug City owner Ge­orge Fo­tis (left) chats with The Foun­tain soda jerk Mike Jon­czak dur­ing the day on Sept. 17. The Foun­tain, Drug City’s new­est fea­ture, opened on Sept. 16. It of­fers an as­sort­ment of re­fresh­ments, such as ice cream, milk­shakes and sun­daes.
PHOTO BY MIKE URSERY Drug City owner Ge­orge Fo­tis (left) chats with The Foun­tain soda jerk Mike Jon­czak dur­ing the day on Sept. 17. The Foun­tain, Drug City’s new­est fea­ture, opened on Sept. 16. It of­fers an as­sort­ment of re­fresh­ments, such as ice cream, milk­shakes and sun­daes.
 ?? PHOTO BY MIKE URSERY ?? The first dol­lar spend at The Foun­tain is on dis­play. The first cus­tomer to visit The Foun­tain was Dun­dalk na­tive David Byus.
PHOTO BY MIKE URSERY The first dol­lar spend at The Foun­tain is on dis­play. The first cus­tomer to visit The Foun­tain was Dun­dalk na­tive David Byus.

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