I found Tolly’s when Nic and I were driving back from the redwoods were were visiting in Northern California. It was an awesome trip and while we were driving through southern Oregon (more or less) Nic mentioned she’d like some ice cream. That was a fantastic idea and I immediately started thinking about where we could – thinking of some of the food chains or other places we could stop. About ten minutes later we drove by the Tolly’s sign along Interstate five. I hadn’t heard of it before and was convinced by Nic to take the chance to see if there was something worth visiting. We did end up stopping and I’m glad we did – it was fantastic and I promised myself to visit there some time again soon. It’s located a little distance from the Interstate but is in an absolutely beautiful town called Oakland. There is a sign along Interstate five from both the north and the south – and during this particular trip I was headed back from the Wildlife Safari park, where Nic, B and I spent a few hours.
The first thing to see along the main street where Tolly’s is located (Locust Street) is the fantastic old brickwork buildings running through the downtown area. It made me think of traditional small-town downtowns like I’d always pictured, Oakland downtown is just like that. About a block down – there isn’t a large sign in front but brightly emblazoned in the windows you’ll see Tolly’s Grill & Soda Fountain.
Luckily being such a small town there was plenty of parking – it made me a little nervous because I was worried it might not have enough business to stick around, but the building has been around since the mid seventies – that is the mid eighteen seventies. Once inside I noticed the old (what looked like) recovered church pews near the front door for folks who are waiting for a place to sit could relax. The inside has bricks like the outside and I absolutely love the bricks on the walls.
On the other side from the front door is an old reception desk complete with vintage cash register, I’m pretty sure it works, though every time I paid it was using a more traditional way.
Looking further inside the second story dining area can be seen – I’ve never seen anyone there, but I’d love to try a great meal there, this time I was here was just for the soda pop. There is a curved grand staircase that passes some elegant tables and a carousel horse (there are at least three I counted placed throughout Tolly’s.
Up the stairs are more dining tables – there are booths and tables spaced throughout the entire upstairs. Many of the chairs are quite comfy and almost seemed too elegant to consider having a meal at.
Looking down from the second floor the soda fountain counter and some of the lunch area tables are visible. There are about ten seats at the soda counter and more at the lunch tables. There are several types of chairs – some overstuffed wing-back chairs, others with beautiful coverings, and others that are a bit simpler for larger groups.
There is a portal on the second floor that goes to an additional seating area with still more comfortable wing-back type chairs – the lights were turned off in that area, so I wasn’t able to get any good pictures. Looking down from the second area is another room with many more tables – this room seems more like an old hunting lodge with a giant table where large parties can reserve the entire room and there is very well stocked bar behind the highly polished counter.
Descending down the stairs at the side of the room (the stairs are far less impressive in this room) and looking up I saw a giant stained glass windows lit from behind. It’s a very impressive sight not he ceiling of the super nice room.
I walked to the front of the room and checked out the sitting areas and noticed even more super nice comfy chairs. On the other side of the entrance (for this room) is another small table and carousel horse.
This room is very impressive and I found myself almost wishing I had a longer time to spend there, but I was already taking too long and needed to get back, so went through the main portal from the bar room to the soda fountain area. There is a nice set of doors separating the different rooms which were thankfully open at this time, allowing me quick access back to the soda fountain area where Nic and B were waiting for me.
I made my way finally to the soda fountain area and was able to take a good look at the menu – having been here before I knew wha the ice-cream was all about but this time I really wanted some of the old-fashioned soda pop. I decided on one of the Mr. Tolly’s Phosphate Sodas – cherry flavor. I wasn’t sure before I placed the order exactly what a phosphate soda was however after researching it I felt more confident that it would be delicious. I was absolutely correct, it was amazing!! Our server was super nice and friendly – as all of the staff were, and she made the world’s best cherry phosphate soda. Mmmmmmm!! I also had a chance to peruse the other menu that showed all of the ice-cream offerings, believe me it was really tough to not get any of them (or all of them).
Please, please, please, take an opportunity if you are anywhere near Oakland take a chance to visit Tolly’s – I am certain you will be impressed (as I was the first time, and doubly-so the second time!!). The different choices for ice-cream and sodas is very impressive and makes me regret not being around when soda fountains were popular. Additionally the decor and different places to sit and dine are very nice and there’s also a giant room that can be reserved with a bar and giant tables – it’s really all anyone can ask for in an establishment – I’ll need to make sure I try the actual food next time. Tolly’s – due to it’s many positives deserves five full Heywillamettes, it’s a fantastic place and you definitely will enjoy a visit there.