The Dundalk Eagle
Grab a cool treat at Drug City’s newest feature, The Fountain
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,”
“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.”