The Taste of Nostalgia
Since their grand reopening in early March, Watson’s Drugs and Soda foundation has brought in customers from all over to the Orange Circle to experience the unique atmosphere and food of their establishment. Their rich history involves everything from visits by president George Bush and actor Tom Hanks, to old time decorations and antiques. The helpful and dedicated staff provided not only exemplary service, but historical information and fun facts about this well-known diner. Opened in 1899 by a pharmacist named Keller E. Watson, Watson Drug served as not only a drugstore, but a diner as well. They served malts, shakes, burgers, and even opened a soda fountain in 1915. The shop went through a whirlwind of owners until a pharmacist from Utah named Scott Parker purchased a portion of it in 1971. Mr. Parker eventually took over full ownership of the site in 1986. Three generations of Parker’s came to own the shop until Villa Park locals and Rockwell’s owners, Bill and Laurie Skeffington bought and renovated this nostalgic joint. Since their grand reopening in early March, Watson’s Drugs and Soda foundation has brought in customers from all over to the Orange Circle to experience the unique atmosphere and food of their establishment. Their rich history involves everything from visits by president George Bush and actor Tom Hanks, to old time decorations and antiques. The helpful and dedicated staff provided not only exemplary service, but historical information and fun facts about this well-known diner.
We arrived at the peak of lunch hour on a Saturday. The once miniscule diner was flooded with people eager to try this new delight in Old Towne Orange. After an anticipated wait, we were promptly seated near the counter by our friendly server, Leah. The menu was absolutely astonishing with everything from peanut butter and jelly sliders to funfetti pancakes. Ethan ordered the nutella pancakes, Lauren Mccandless the “I Love Lucy” which was a hamburger topped with mac and cheese, and Lauren Enge “The Patriot” which included eggs, toast, sausage, and fruit. One of our favorite things about the restaurant is that you can order breakfast all day. If you’re a breakfast lover like me, that seals the deal. The menu held countless choices of delectable food, and with such a variety of options it seems impossible that anyone would be unable to find anything to eat. With one glance at the menu, we were drawn to bold writing that stated, “The Eighth Wonder of the World”. Another captivating caption, “The Ninth Wonder of the World” stood out on the following page. The two interesting menu items challenged anyone with a big appetite. One promoted a two pound colossal burger, loaded with toppings. The other described a nine scoop ice cream sundae complete with a myriad of toppings. Both Lauren M. and Ethan wanted to order the gigantic ice cream, however, a filling meal prevented those dreams from coming true. Next time, we may have to skip the actual food and simply order dessert!
Along with the outstanding service and spectacular meal, our waitress, Leah, provided us with some fun facts about the establishment. Watson’s interior is decorated with several unique and nostalgic items from the basement. When I think of a basement, my initial thought process goes to horror films and cobwebs. However, as we would come to learn, Watson’s basement has a unique history of its own. Back in the early 1900s, Orange County was filled with orange groves. In case a fire were to break out, lighting all the acres ablaze, a system of underground tunnels was established, one of which led into Watson’s basement. Another interesting piece of history involves Mr. Tom Hanks, who most know from movies such as Forrest Gump and Toy Story. The movie That Thing You Do! includes a scene both outside and inside the diner. In fact, after the movie was released, many customers began to request to sit in the “Tom Hanks Booth” which his character dined at in the movie. Other movies that have used Watson’s include The Stepford Children and Cannonball Run. Watson’s is not only an iconic symbol of Orange County’s history, but also the latest stop on every foodie’s roadmap. The quality of the service and food was extraordinary, and all three of us left with a deeper respect for this well-known establishment. Watson’s is open seven days a week and from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays. The upbeat and friendly environment is the perfect spot for a meal with your friends or dinner with your family. We all highly recommend you check it out!
Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe 116 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92866 Phone: (714) 363-3773 Hours: Wednesday 6:30AM–11PM Thursday 6:30AM–11PM Friday 6:30AM–12AM Saturday 7AM–12AM Sunday 7AM–10PM Monday 6:30AM–11PM Tuesday 6:30AM–11PM