At the heart of Green Line Apothecary, a white tile and wood bar surrounds a gleaming stainless steel soda fountain. In back, a line of candy machines stand at the ready on a shelf, full of gumballs and jelly beans. I think I hear doo-wop in the background as I consider a menu including cherry phosphates and lime rickeys. What decade is this again?
Thankfully for those in Wakefield, I arrived in a Honda and not a DeLorean, which would explain the natural-dyed gumballs and the thoroughly modern selection of supplements. Green Line Apothecary provides everything a modern pharmacy does, but it’s everything a modern pharmacy isn’t: personal, uncluttered, relaxed and even fun. Since I was all set on pills, I chatted with owner and pharmacist Christina Procaccianti about the joys of old-fashioned sodas and service. I also had a float with my dame; it was boss.
You clearly didn’t want to open just any pharmacy. Where did your vision for Green Line come from?
I got my start sort of in a funny way. My father was a greeting card salesman. His sales territory was in different pharmacies and he used to take my sisters and me with him. I was always in and around these beautiful mom and pop pharmacies and had this very clear vision for how my pharmacy was going to be. It was always going to be a Main Street location [because] I wanted it to have this small town feel. The soda fountain was a definite, mandatory part of the project, too. It was all inspired by me wanting to take pharmacy to its roots, to feel slower paced, more comfortable, more home-like.
Why is the soda fountain so central, literally and figuratively, to a proper old-fashioned pharmacy?
[Soda fountains] were created by pharmacists as sort of a way to mask the flavors of bitter medications when medications used to be made by hand. But some of the sodas did have medicinal purposes themselves. Ginger ale is supposed to have real ginger in it and cola is supposed to be made from a real cola nut, because the cola nut is very soothing on the stomach. So, I wanted to take it back to what it was originally intended for. This is me putting my pharmacist hat on saying, “do we really need the artificial dyes, artificial colors and preservatives in there? What’s wrong with all the ingredients just on their own?”
What’s different about an old soda fountain?
I wanted to serve the soda in the style where you pump the syrup and add the carbonated water separately. I know it sounds silly when modern technology allows us to combine the two [and] mixes it for you, but I think it affects the taste, the fizz, that effervescence you have in your mouth when you have it mixed fresh like that right in front of you. So much of the history of American pharmacies is directly intertwined with soda fountains.
Are there kid favorites and adult favorites at the fountain?
Not really. This is going to sound cheesy, but I’ve been able to witness the soda fountain bring out the kid in a lot of adults. Even the little things, like the candy machines, you’d think right off the cuff, that’s got to be a kid favorite. But seven out of ten times, the person standing at the machine with the quarter in their hand is that senior citizen who remembers it when they were a kid.
The soda fountain is very cross-generational. I’m actually witnessing this right now. We’ve got a grandfather in here with his two grandsons and they’re just chatting. It’s drumming up beautiful emotions and stories from people who remember these from their childhood. They like that it’s part of their kids’ or their grandchildren’s lives also.
Green Line Apothecary
203 Main Street, Wakefield