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Spinning J Soda Fountain to Sling Cheap Tart Pies, Egg Creams, Nostalgia

By Janet Rausa Fuller | June 29, 2015 6:01am
 Pie, ice cream and old-fashioned fountain drinks will be on the menu at Spinning J, 1000 N. California Ave.
Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain
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HUMBOLDT PARK — The online pie purveyor formerly known as Cheap Tart is getting ready to roll in its first storefront at 1000 N. California Ave. with a new name: Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain.

That's short for spinning jenny, a nickname for those winged maple tree seeds also commonly called helicopters, whirlybirds or wingnuts.

But it's also a reference to the grandmother of Spinning J's owner Dinah Grossman, whose signature piece of jewelry was a spinning jenny silver necklace — and who as a kid could often be found on a stool at the soda fountain inside Sangor Drug in Milwaukee.

On an equipment-hunting trip at a Masonic lodge slated for demolition outside of Milwaukee, Grossman came upon the drugstore's original marble bar, stools and brass foot rail.

After buying it all, Grossman dug deeper into her family history, "put the math together" and realized Sangor's was her Grandma Ethel's hangout.

"It was a really lucky find," Grossman said.

That bar, which she and her fiance refurbished themselves, will anchor the 1,200-square-foot shop.

Behind it is Spinning J's other focal point, a vintage Bastian Blessing soda fountain, which Grossman also refurbished. It'll churn out shakes, sodas, egg creams and other classic fountain drinks made with from-scratch syrups and flavorings.

Sodas and old-fashioned fountain drinks will be on the menu at Spinning J, 1000 N. California Ave. [Facebook/Spinning J]

"We're not using any dyes, anything like that. All of it will change seasonally," Grossman said.

Expect the same from the sweet and savory pie menu, Cheap Tart's hallmark. A rotating roster of ice cream and frozen treats will lean on local purveyors, including Black Dog Gelato and Zarlengo's, with limited-edition flavors from pastry chefs around town.

Spinning J is on a bustling Humboldt Park intersection that includes The Haywood Tavern and two projects from restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, the renovated California Clipper and C.C. Ferns coffee shop (he has a third in the works). A restaurant also is planned for 1001 N. California, across the street from Spinning J.

Grossman said her soda fountain will open in July after final inspections by the city.

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