Three guys from Pittsboro having lunch at S&T’s Soda Shoppe – A taste of nostalgia and friendship

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – In the quaint downtown of Pittsboro, where memories linger like the aroma of a home-cooked meal, Eric Andrews, and Greg Stafford and I gathered for our somewhat irregularly scheduled lunch at the iconic S&T’s Soda Shoppe on February 20. We were there to share a meal, memories, and hopefully a dash of humor. Our simple lunch evolved into a tapestry of anecdotes and local history. As we discussed everything from fashion choices to the town’s evolving music scene, our conversation unveiled a rich tapestry of memories, connecting the past, present, and future of our growing community.

S&T’s Soda Shoppe is a beloved fixture in downtown Pittsboro. Established several decades ago, the diner has become a symbol of community connections and shared experiences. S&T’s is more than just a place to grab a meal; it’s a hub where friendships are forged, and stories unfold.

A Dash of Style – Sweaters, Stripes, and Old Navy
We kicked off our lunch with a light-hearted discussion about fashion choices. Greg humorously recounts that his wife had dressed him for lunch. This sparked a conversation about the merits of $12 sweaters from Old Navy. Eric is all in and we decided since Eric’s girlfriend does not buy his clothes, he can buy and wear whatever he likes. The conversation meandered through sartorial choices, from stripes to complaints about Old Navy’s durability. Amidst the laughter, I acknowledged that I consider a somewhat peculiar fact that people actually tune into our lunchtime gatherings.

From Rathskellar to S&T’s – The Culinary Journey
The conversation takes a delicious turn as we explored the culinary delights offered at S&T’s Soda Shoppe. The mention of dishes like the Double Gambler, lasagna, and buffalo chicken tender sandwiches opened a gateway to local history.

Kenny Man Sr.’s influence from his days at the Rathskellar, a renowned eatery of the past in Chapel Hill, echoes in the recipes served at S&T’s. Kenny Mann Sr., was the revered chef at The Rathskeller from 1949 to 2003. The restaurant’s lasagna with cheese that stretched from table-to-mouth is his recipe. He passed down culinary treasures to his son, Kenny Mann Jr., who later ventured into the world of music with the band Kenny Mann and Liquid Pleasure. Greg and Eric got into discussing the origins of these dishes, debunking the myth of theft and unraveling the legacy behind each culinary creation.

Each of us opted for a different dish, showcasing the variety S&T’s Soda Shoppe offers. Eric, opting for the Buffalo Chicken Tender Sandwich, sparked a debate on whether to choose fried or grilled. Greg disclosed tales of how certain recipes, like the lasagna, had found their way into the restaurant’s repertoire.

Remembering Legends – Music, Loss, and Legacy
The lunch table become a stage for reminiscing about the vibrant music scene in Pittsboro. We delved into our some local music history, recalling influential figures like Kenny Man Jr. of the Liquid Pleasure band and Dexter Romweber. These local musicians, deeply connected to the community, left an indelible mark.

The conversation took a poignant turn as we remembered Dexter Romweber, a musician from the community who recently passed away. Dexter, a member of the Romweber musical family, left a lasting impact on the local music scene. His untimely death added another chapter to the family’s story, marked by musical talent and the craft of furniture making. With a touch of nostalgia, Greg Stafford shared anecdotes about the Hot Nuts and the enduring legacy of Pittsboro’s music culture.

Pittsboro’s Evolving Culinary Scene

Amidst the laughter and reminiscences, we highlighted the evolving culinary scene in Pittsboro. We discussed the resurgence of local establishments like Virlie’s, The Mod, and S&T’s, each offering its unique flavor to the town. The upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the introduction of Havoc Brew added to the excitement, painting a picture of a community embracing change while cherishing its roots.

Pittsboro’s Changing Landscape – Buildings, Business, and Beyond
Our conversation shifted to the evolving landscape of Pittsboro, touching upon the town’s growth and the challenges of property acquisition. Eric and Greg recounted humorous tales of attempted real estate deals, showcasing the interconnectedness of the community. As they discussed the changes, they underlined the importance of preserving local businesses and landmarks that define Pittsboro’s identity.

We stopped in to see the folks at S&T during the COVID pandemic.

Rotary Club Initiatives and Community Involvement

Shifting gears, we touched upon community involvement, particularly the Rotary Club‘s role in shaping Pittsboro’s landscape. The conversation veered towards scholarship programs, fundraisers, and the recent success of the Pittsboro street fair. There has been an increasing enthusiasm for the positive changes and growth within their community. It’s good to see how such organizations become the backbone of community development, ensuring a thriving future for Pittsboro.

Time to Eat

As the meal arrived, the we delved into their lunchtime choices – a sizzling Double Gambler, a tempting lasagna, and a zesty Buffalo Chicken Tender Sandwich. With every bite, we enjoyed not just the flavors but the sense of connection and shared history that these meals represented.

More than a Meal – A Chronicle of Pittsboro’s Spirit

As lunch concluded, the laughter and camaraderie lingered, leaving a sense of warmth and community spirit. The tales of fashion choices, culinary delights, music, and community engagement paint a vivid picture of Pittsboro’s unique identity. As we prepared to leave our table, the legacy of lunch at S&T’s Soda Shoppe becomes not just a culinary experience but a celebration of Pittsboro’s past, present, and future.

Diners having lunch in the S&T Soda Shoppe. (photo by Gene Galin)

Closing Thoughts

In the heart of downtown Pittsboro, where the past and present intertwine, S&T’s Soda Shoppe stands as a testament to the town’s rich history and its enduring sense of community. It continues to be a haven where time slows down, memories are made, and flavors linger. The laughter, memories, and culinary delights shared by us, “Three Guys from Pittsboro” hopefully reflect the essence of a town that cherishes its traditions while embracing the changes that add new flavors to its story. I hope that we three, fueled by gastronomic delights and shared tales, provided a glimpse into the soul of this iconic eatery. As I pay the lunch bill and get ready to leave S&T’s, the echoes of laughter, clinking cutlery, and the aroma of a “bowl of cheese” lasagna linger—a timeless ode to the charm of a small-town soda shoppe.

S&T’s Soda Shoppe, with its “stolen” recipes and enduring charm, stands as a testament to the resilience of small-town traditions in the face of changing times.

Feel free to dive in deeper and take a look at our video conversation, that’s available in two part on YouTube.

Part 1 “Three Guys from Pittsboro having Lunch” at S&T’s Soda Shoppe – 2.20.24 Summary

  • Three guys from Pittsboro having lunch
  • Discussion about the double Gambler and stolen lasagna
  • Discussion about the struggles and losses of musicians in the community.
  • Family-owned furniture makers with expensive home furniture
  • Discussion on the challenges of buying buildings in downtown area
  • Struggles with buying buildings at higher prices
  • Doherty’s Irish Pub has a cult following and a loyal customer base.
  • Discussion about the opening of new places and their potential success
  • Discussion about dining experiences and recommended places
  • Pittsburgh Rotary’s successful fundraising strategies
  • Discussing the unique menu items and their features.
  • S&T’s Soda Shoppe offers unique food options

On YouTube – Part 1 “Three Guys from Pittsboro having Lunch” at S&T’s Soda Shoppe – 2.20.24

00:16 Three guys from Pittsboro having lunch

  • Discussion about clothing choices and shopping preferences
  • Ordering food at the restaurant

02:25 Discussion about the double Gambler and stolen lasagna

  • Description of the double Gambler – skirt steak on a skillet with steak fries, grilled onions, and garlic fries
  • Anecdote about Kenny Man, the chef, and his son Kenny Man Jr, a musician

04:51 Discussion about the struggles and losses of musicians in the community.

  • Mentions of the success of bands out of state.
  • Details about the deaths in the musician’s family and the impact on the community.

07:52 Family-owned furniture makers with expensive home furniture

  • The Danzigers family owned restaurants in Chapel Hill, and their recipes ended up at S&T’s Soda Shoppe.
  • Kenny, who worked for the Danzigers family, brought the recipes to the soda shop and contributed to its success.

10:13 Discussion on the challenges of buying buildings in downtown area

  • The need to know people to be able to purchase property
  • Anecdote about negotiating the purchase of a building

12:18 Struggles with buying buildings at higher prices

  • Offered to buy buildings at higher prices than they were eventually bought for
  • Using personal connections and strategies to secure a building

14:43 Doherty’s Irish Pub has a cult following and a loyal customer base.

  • Doherty’s has over 5,000 views on a panoramic view, showing people’s interest in the place.
  • The owners are down-to-earth and reasonable people to work with, focusing on a partnership approach.

16:46 Discussion about the opening of new places and their potential success

  • Three new places will be opening by the end of March, all with professional management and high potential for success.
  • Expansion of menu at The Mod including the addition of a Smoke House and Polynesian barbecue.

19:03 Discussion about dining experiences and recommended places

  • They discuss sitting on the back of a pickup and waiting for a table at S&T’s Soda Shoppe.
  • They mention the line at the shop, the sale of barbecue, and the traditional places to eat in the area.

20:55 Pittsburgh Rotary’s successful fundraising strategies

  • Various fundraising attempts, such as raffles, auctions, and trike races, were attempted with varying degrees of success.
  • The Pittsburgh street fair and the support from volunteers and professionals created a successful and sustainable fundraising mechanism for scholarships.

22:42 Discussing the unique menu items and their features.

  • Explaining the need for a heat shield for a special skillet and double Gambler.
  • Sharing the history and mainstays of the restaurant’s menu.

24:50 S&T’s Soda Shoppe offers unique and personalized food options

  • Former football player’s special request for Peno cheese on a burger resulted in a named dish
  • Large portions and unique food offerings are highlighted

Part 2 “Three Guys from Pittsboro having Lunch” at S&T’s Soda Shoppe – 2.20.24 Summary

  • 🍝 Eric’s idea to discuss topics
  • 🚗 Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” inspiration
  • 🍲 Review of S&T meal, lasagna in a cheese bowl
  • 🍗 Eric had Buffalo fried chicken, finished first
  • 🍦 Daughter’s favorite: birthday cake ice cream
  • 🍔 Greg’s double Gambler vs. single for wife
  • 🍷 Wine pairings at Vino next door
  • 🍨 S&T’s generous ice cream servings
  • 📰 S&T’s history, opened in 1997
  • 📞 Funny voicemail story during son’s baseball game
  • 📱 Decision to cut off voicemail for life priorities
  • 🤐 Agreement on not sharing personal phone numbers
  • 🚫 Refusal to give out someone’s number, leading to a bit of a bust
  • 🗣️ Discussion about S&T’s impact on the voicemail market
  • 🏙️ Changing landscape in Pittsboro with recognizable faces diminishing
  • 🍽️ S&T known as a popular spot, even covered in foodie blogs
  • 🏈 High school football team tradition of pre-game meals at S&T
  • 🍦 Hubert and Roy’s visits, creating memorable moments
  • 🏀 Coaching memories, including encounters with players like TJ and Steve
  • 🚿 Changing culture in high school sports, from showers to safety gear
  • 🍷 Appreciation for a slow-paced dining experience, drawing parallels with European culture
  • 📸 Recognition of Northwood students in the restaurant and gratitude for past photos
  • 🥪 Enjoyment of the meal at S&T, plans for future lunch outings, and teasing upcoming discussions on the best North Carolina food.

On YouTube – Part 2 “Three Guys from Pittsboro having Lunch” at S&T’s Soda Shoppe – 2.20.24

[00:18] Three guys from Pittsboro having lunch and discussing their meal experiences.
– They talk about the popular demand for such videos.
– They also discuss the familiarity and excellent service at S&T’s Soda Shoppe.
[02:55] Discussion about food preferences and splitting meals
– They discuss their favorite meals at the shop and joke about splitting meals with their spouse.
– They mention carrying their meals next door to pair with wine.
[05:53] Discussion about the history and experiences at S&T’s Soda Shoppe
– Talks about being remembered by the staff and the experience of being teased by them
– Ordering ice cream and discussing different flavors
[09:01] Discussion about the history and atmosphere of S&T’s Soda Shoppe
– Conversation about the origins of the soda shoppe and its history with the community
– Anecdotes about interactions with notable individuals in town and personal experiences related to the shop
[12:13] Anecdotes from the soda shop and life lessons
– A story about an elderly man buying a garden hose at the hardware store
– A personal experience about prioritizing family over work
[14:46] S&T’s Soda Shoppe has created a buzz and attracted notable visitors.
– Greg’s decision to not have voicemail was strategic to maintain privacy and avoid court issues.
– The restaurant has become a popular spot, attracting people from all over for a selfie moment.
[17:49] Connecting with the community through football
– Coach Ribbit’s initiative to involve the community in high school football games
– Anecdotes of coaching experiences and funny incidents
[20:21] Cultural differences in Pittsboro
– The vibe in Pittsboro is slow-paced, allowing for leisurely meals and people-watching.
[22:51] Discussion about carrying on the founder’s vision at S&T’s Soda Shoppe
– Vicki and the boys are continuing their dad’s dream and vision for the business.
– The entire staff, including former Northwood students, plays a significant role in the shop’s success.
[25:16] Discussion about the Fruit Cake Company
– The company is not as widespread as others
– The speaker expresses reluctance to eat fruit cake for lunch