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Jackson Drug: Jackson Hole’s Historic Gem

Jackson Hole’s drug store and original soda fountain on Town Square is a century-old, historic landmark and eatery that both locals and visitors cherish.
Jackson Hole History

Jackson Drug and Original Soda Fountain is a beloved Jackson Hole institution dating back to 1919. It closed its doors in 2001, but then in 2018, the founder’s family reopened the soda fountain giving the historic and iconic building another chance. This second chance means it's serving up some homemade ice cream, malts, burgers and sandwiches for a whole new generation.

Back Then ...

For more than eight decades the lunch counter at Jackson Drug store was the place to be (pictured above). It was a focus of Jackson Hole retailing and community life, selling many of the necessities. Jackson was a small town, and Town Square was the center of business.

Bruce Porter was the founder of the Jackson Drug and he first opened its doors in 1919 in the old Clubhouse building on the east side of the Town Square; it's the oldest building on the square. Currently, it is home to Hines Jewelers, Wilcox Gallery and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Store. In 1937 the soda fountain was moved to its more famous location in the stone building on the northwest corner of the square.

“Everyone came in here,” Robert Gill, Bruce Porter's grandson, said. “You bought everything here.”

Jackson Drug was the pharmacy as well as the place where you could send or receive a telegram, drop off or pick up clothes washed by a local laundry business. It sold film and jewelry and fishing gear, greeting cards, sunglasses, makeup, perfume and soap, books, tobacco and fireworks, picnic supplies—even wallpaper and paint!—plus veterinary supplies. Basically, it was everything for everybody in Jackson Hole.

Bruce Porter was also a cattleman and an investor with many interests in Jackson Hole and his family still runs the Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch that he started in 1928. 

The family ran the soda fountain and pharmacy until 1978 when the building and business were sold to Steve Schultz and Charlie Gaudet. In 2001, the building was sold once again to Davies Reid, a rug business, and it was at that time that the popular soda fountain closed its doors. However, in 2010 Robert Gill had the opportunity to purchase the building back for his family and it was then that they knew bringing the Jackson Drug back to town would have to happen eventually.

“We’d always talked about bringing the Jackson Drug back ever since it closed,” Jessica Gill said. “It was a dream.”

“We started planning as soon as we knew Davies Reid was leaving,” said Nikki Gill, Robert's daughter, who now owns the revamped business with her sister, Jessica.

After a year and a half of careful planning, research, sweat, and even a few tears, Jackson Drug reopened in the summer of 2018.

Quick Facts

Jackson Drug and Original Soda Fountain

Where: 140 N Cache, on Town Square

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Sunday 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Monday

Phone: 307-201-1275

Website: jacksondrug.com

... And Now

Nikki and Jessica's grandmother, Jeannine Gill, used to tell their father: “You have a heritage here in Jackson and it’s important. It’s frail, and you have to take care of it.” That's the sentiment Robert instilled in his daughters from an early age, and something they take great pride in living by every day.

"Jackson is more than just our hometown, it’s part of who we are at our core," the sisters said. "And as a family, we’re determined to do our part to protect Jackson’s small-town character."

Mission accomplished. The "new" Jackson Drug has stuck true to its roots but with a nod to today, of course—and the future.

"We’ve tried our best to honor the history of the Jackson Drug while also breathing some new life and ideas into the iconic space," Jessica said.

The original soda fountain survived with very little "abuse," having stayed in place during the Davies Reid years, though obscured by merchandise from the other side of the world. The sturdy, 100-year-old, 9-seat wooden fountain features Western motifs in the inlaid tile and classic, teal-colored soda fountain stools.

The "new" Jackson Drug has stuck true to its roots but with a nod to today, of course—and the future.

The ceiling and walls of the restaurant feature an equally iconic stamped tin. While the soda fountain is still the visual focus of Jackson Drug, the diner-like atmosphere now includes some 40-seats at tables of various sizes.

Some of the old fountain’s food favorites remain—the egg salad and the cheese pretzels were big sellers—and the Gills have added a menu of single, double and triple burger choices, and, for some of today's patrons, the menu also includes elk, bison and a "Veg Head" Falafel burger with tzatziki sauce. You can build your own grilled cheese sandwich. Salads, sandwiches, chicken tenders, steak strips,
homemade meatloaf and Idaho trout are some of the other items you can choose to fill up your tummy with.

For the adventurous eater, the restaurant offers up "The Ralph" burger, a $65 enormous 3-pound burger topped with melted American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions on a custom-made Gaston’s Bakery bun, served with a basket of fries. Eat it all solo, finish in an hour and it’s free! Plus get your picture on the wall and get a free Jackson Drug T-shirt. The burger takes 25 minutes to prepare so come hungry and ready to make history.

The eatery boasts a $10 burger and beer special every day from 4 to 6 p.m.

Jackson Drug won third place in the Best New Restaurant Category of 2019's "Best of Jackson Hole."

The majority of the food is locally and regionally sourced. For instance, the hot dogs come from Sweet Cheeks Meats in Jackson, the burger meat hails from the Gill family's Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch and all bread comes from Idaho's Gaston’s Bakery.

There is also a special menu for kids.

Fill Your Tummy

Some of the old fountain’s food favorites remain—the egg salad and the cheese pretzels were big sellers. The Gills have added a menu of single, double and triple burger choices. And, for some of today's patrons, the menu also includes elk, bison and a "Veg Head" Falafel burger with tzatziki sauce.

You can build your own grilled cheese sandwich. Salads, sandwiches, chicken tenders, steak strips, homemade meatloaf and Idaho trout are some of the other items you can choose to fill up your tummy with.

For the adventurous eater, the restaurant offers up "The Ralph" burger, a $65 enormous 3-pound burger topped with melted American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions on a custom-made Gaston’s Bakery bun, served with a basket of fries. Eat it all solo, finish in an hour and it’s free! Plus get your picture on the wall and get a free Jackson Drug T-shirt. The burger takes 25 minutes to prepare so come hungry and ready to make history.

The eatery boasts a $10 burger and beer special every day from 4 to 6 p.m.

Jackson Drug won third place in the Best New Restaurant Category of 2019's "Best of Jackson Hole."

The majority of the food is locally and regionally sourced. For instance, the hot dogs come from Sweet Cheeks Meats in Jackson, the burger meat hails from the Gill family's Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch and all bread comes from Idaho's Gaston’s Bakery.

There is also a special menu for kids.

Save Room For Ice Cream!

What's a soda fountain without yummy ice cream goodness? Jackson Drug's nearly addictive ice cream is made with love on-site using Reed’s Dairy cream from Idaho Falls, Idaho.

You can choose to satisfy your sweet tooth with scoops of ice cream (single, double and triple) on a sugar, cake or giant waffle cone (just $1 more for this choice). Or try one of the milkshakes and malts, ice cream floats or sundaes. Specialty milkshakes include Butterfinger, Oreo and birthday cake.

And while there isn't an actual pharmacy located in Jackson Drug anymore, various sundries, souvenirs, snacks and over-the-counter medications are available for sale in a special mercantile section walled off from the dining area.

Be sure to have a meal—or just a milkshake—at the Jackson Drug to experience a bit of Jackson Hole's history. You won't regret the step back in time with a touch of today.