By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series called the 25 Days of Downtown Christmas that will highlight the fantastic selection of retailers in downtown Garden City.
Finding a place that offers an old fashioned ice cream float or a banana split can be challenging these days, but Traditions in downtown Garden City continues to thrive in offering food and a nostalgia-filled environment.
“The only thing that’s changed is just the number of items on the menu. I used to sit at the counter when I was a kid, and we really try to be true to the place,” current owner Mike Wade said of the restaurant, which has been in its current spot on Grant Avenue since 1943.
Traditions Soda and Sandwich Shop, 121 Grant Ave., originally began as Myers Ice Cream & Dairy. The restaurant continues to pay homage to its roots with the sign on the wall with Myers’ original menu and pricing, along with Traditions’ great offering of hand dipped ice cream, malts and shakes, sundaes and banana splits.
Next year will mark the shop’s 75th anniversary in its current location, but Merle Myers originally started the ice cream business one door to the east in 1925.
In 1988, the Myers’ sold the business and it was renamed Ziggy’s. It closed briefly and then reopened as Traditions for several years before it was acquired by Bob Petrus who ran it for roughly nine years. In 2000, Wade took it over after six months in partnership with Petrus.
“It is an original malt shop, and has been since the Myers had it. We try to be true to the place. I think it’s a Garden City icon,” Wade said. “And I love this era. I was a little young for it, but I still love it.”
With a theme that garners recollections of the 1950s and 1960s, Traditions offers 18 different sandwiches on the menu, including specialties like the Chubby Checker and Big Bopper, as well as grilled cheese and chicken and tuna salad sandwiches. Most of their items are homemade, not pre-packaged, including their selection of phenomenal pies, cinnamon rolls, and brownies.
During the winter months, Traditions also offers a selection of soups each day with the cook’s choice on Saturdays. Along with the typical soft drinks, they offer limeade and lemonade made the old fashioned way, as well as malts and shakes. Much of the store’s fixtures are original, including the counter stools and the soda fountain.
Garden City Icon
Wade said it’s hard to say what one thing Traditions is best known for.
“I wouldn’t say just one. There are times we’ll sell a lot of a certain item, and next thing you know there’s another item we sell a lot of,” he said. “I think we have a wide enough variety — we don’t hardly ever change the menu — but we have a wide enough variety to keep people coming in.”
Despite being a Garden City icon for decades, Wade says he still has people express surprise that Traditions exists. That’s likely because the shop really doesn’t advertise itself, but relying on word of mouth doesn’t seem to have hurt business.
“People, when they come back for the holidays, they have to come down here at least once,” Wade said. “I think it’s amazing that you never know who you’re going to see each and every day. People from way back when to now. And you have little kids come in and it’s their favorite place to eat. It’s keeping the tradition going.”
Traditions’ hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.