50 years and still shakin’


    By Jeremiah Taylor

    An elderly couple faithfully makes trips to the shake store. Every time they order the same thing, pop a couple quarters in the jukebox, select Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley and walk out while the song is still playing.

    The Malt Shoppe on University Avenue has an appeal for all generations.

    “I think there”s a desire for more than just the national chain fast food franchise,” said Grant Sorensen, president of the board of directors. “There still is a desire for good hometown, old fashion product and service, instead of just the stainless steel and the calculated nature of the typical fast food giant.”

    The Malt Shoppe started as an A&W store, and was later bought and named Stevenette”s Malt Shoppe. The Shoppe has been under its current name and owner since 1992.

    The restaurant is ornamented with paraphernalia from the ”50s and ”60s, including records and trading cards of Elvis, the Beatles and others. The building is bordered with neon lights and blinking bulbs with a covered patio. The 45 original record jukebox is also lined in neon.

    If any restaurant could be justified in baby-boomer decor, it would be the Malt Shoppe. The building looks old because it is old — over 50 years.

    “I have actually received correspondence from companies congratulating us on our 50th year,” Sorensen said.

    Emma Sorensen, student employee and daughter of the president, said some middle-aged couples go in and say they are celebrating their reunion by going to the Malt Shoppe because that is where they went on their first date. In fact, the big red roof was once a chimney for the fireplace that used to be in the lobby.

    Boasting close to 80 shake flavors and providing big burgers, a Malt Shoppe staple. The store also attracts a loyal student business.

    “As a token of our appreciation for our loyal student clientele, we offer two-for-one shakes every Monday and Wednesday night,” Sorensen said.

    He added that the special offer encourages an inexpensive date on a weekday evening. Students must present their ID card to qualify for the offer.

    Eric Livingston, a senior from St. Louis, Mo., went with his wife to the Malt Shoppe for a treat after their first date.

    “It”s just a fun, laid back place with a good atmosphere for college students,” Livingston said.

    Emma said, “It”s like the backup plan for everything, or you go hang out and go get a shake after.”

    According to Sorensen, they want students to be comfortable and stay as long as they like.

    “It”s a clean environment and yet it”s not somewhere you feel intimidated that if you lean back on the chair you”re going to get in trouble,” Sorensen said.

    Employees said the most popular-selling shake is strawberry banana. In addition, Sorensen recently returned from Hawaii with a Hawaiian Ice machine. The flavored shaved ice can be served with ice cream or without.

    The Malt Shoppe also has karaoke night every Thursday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. The restaurant closes at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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