Lynden's in St. Paul revives old-fashioned soda shop

Throwback candy, handcrafted floats, and egg creams

Other product-related decisions were less technical. "In terms of ice cream, we knew off the bat we wanted to have a super-premium ice cream, but we didn't want to use Grand Ole Creamery or Izzy's or anything like that," Lynden explains. "Those places are already institutions. Why would anyone make a point to come to our place to get that ice cream when they can go straight to the source, you know?" There's a more practical reason too. "It's expensive. It gets very expensive very quickly, and we really wanted to keep our costs reasonable for our customers." When he ultimately elected to serve Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream from Madison, Wisconsin, Lynden says it wasn't because of the inventive flavors (though the Fat Elvis, a banana ice cream with salty peanut butter ripple and chunks of chocolate, makes a positively divine shake), but rather the impeccable balance of the base flavors in their plain chocolate and vanilla. "Once you start adding candies and cherries and syrups to the ice cream, it can get overwhelmed or too sweet," says Lynden. "You need that good base flavor, and we really liked Chocolate Shoppe's."

John Lynden
E. Katie Holm
John Lynden


Lynden's Soda Fountain
490 Hamline Ave., St. Paul
menu items $3-$7

But Lynden isn't really too big on the ice cream stuff himself; he tends to be drawn more toward the soda side of the shop. "I don't drink alcohol, so for me having places like ours and Eat Street Social serving interesting, handcrafted drinks that aren't alcoholic is pretty great." Lynden's is already proving to be a great place to drop in and post up at pretty much any time of the day. It serves Dogwood Coffee from northeast Minneapolis and a daily-changing selection of doughnuts from Mojo Monkey in the morning. And then there are the candy treats, inspiring nostalgia in some and completely new to others. The place is part neighborhood hub and part time machine, giving it broad appeal but also a unique edge. "We already had a guy who came in and ordered a cappuccino and then stayed until that was done and got a malt," Lynden laughs. "I don't know very many other places where people do that."

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