The Franklin Fountain has been a labor of love for brothers Ryan and Eric Berley who opened the shop only a few years ago after discovering their passion for retro sweets. Having completely renovated the building, the duo has amassed a collection of antique fountain equipment, restored the building’s turn of the century decorative effects and even learned to make their own ice cream. The business, named after Ben Franklin himself, employs the good doctor’s pragmatic philosophy and his visage and spirit can be seen throughout the shop.
Step inside this corner ice cream boutique and you’ll immediately feel transported back in time. Things are slower here, there’s no touch screen ordering system or mass-produced servings. Instead, the parlor looks more like a museum (make sure to look up and down to admire pressed tin ceiling and mosaic floor) with dark rich wood moldings framing rows of technicolor bottles of flavorings. In fact, even the soda jerk is a throwback to the turn of the century, outfitted in a pristine white uniform while meticulously mixing drinks and preparing sundaes under the customer’s watchful eyes.
There’s plenty to choose from at The Fountain. Just like its name implies, fountain sodas are one of the shop’s specialties. With over 25 flavors to choose from, including delicious root beer and pineapple, you can get a hand mixed soda for the same price as a bottled one.
Looking for something a little more decadent? Many sundaes have roots in historical recipes. The Stock Market Crunch originated during the Great Depression and is a must-try with rocky road ice cream coated in peanut butter sauce and crumbled salty pretzels.
Original sundaes include Mt. Vesuvius (a mountain of chocolate or vanilla ice cream overflowing with chocolate brownie pieces and torrents of hot fudge) and the Southern Sympathizer (rum raisin and pistachio ice creams with pecans, pistachios, hot caramel and praline chunks).
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know the banana split was first popularized in Philly? The Franklin Fountain is bringing the dessert back with authentic split bowls and perfectly sliced bananas.
Oh, and when you’re leaving The Fountain, don’t forget to take home a treat like homemade hot fudge or a retro candy like Blackjack gum and Chicklets.
With all this attention to detail and authenticity, you might think the shop takes itself too seriously, after all it is just drinks and dessert, but surprisingly, there is a warm and fun atmosphere to the shop. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and ponder the voluminous menu. There are a few tables inside, but a large group of seats outside under a tree that looks out onto Penn’s Landing. Try to hit this place early on a weekday to truly enjoy the many details lost amongst the hot crowds on weekend nights.