Stop 55: The 1953 Kiefer’s Pharmacy
The 1953 Kiefer’s Pharmacy and Sporting.
A 5-cent cup of coffee was the mantra for this Dade City gathering place! Kiefer’s Pharmacy was a mainstay in Dade City for many years. At 14125 7th Steet, the pharmacy possessed a strong service philosophy as memories abound about the warmth and friendliness of the store. They had a reputation for hiring high school students for after school and summer jobs, and many credit the store for providing a canvas for growth and hands-on learning. At a time when family drug stores were essential to the community, Alfred Otto Kiefer knew that a cup of coffee offered a welcome that built rapport.
Alfred Otto Kiefer came to Dade City in 1926 from his native Dunedin. He graduated from Notre Dame School of Pharmacy in 1938, and served in the U.S. Navy in World War II in the Pacific before returning to Dade City where he initially worked at Walgreens until he opened his own pharmacy in 1953 on Seventh Street called Kiefer’s Pharmacy. He was well thought of for his helpfulness to others and offered an enticing soda fountain. He took his role as pharmacist very seriously and similar to the family doctor who made house calls in that time period, Kiefer did not mind working extra hours to assist people.
“Sometimes we’d stay open late for someone to pick up medicine, and there were many times on the way home that he dropped off medicine at somebody’s house,” said his son Alfred Jr. in 2002.”
Jan Glidewell reported in 1993 that “a piece of Dade City’s business and social history closes its doors after 40 years of operation downtown” For 29 of the 40 years Kiefer’s was the most popular of businesses because of its famed nickel cup of coffee. As coffee prices rose, they made a commitment to keep the accommodation for their customers.
Long time waitress, Marie Hayes worked at the store for over thirty years. She said in an interview with historian/journalist, Carol Hedman in 1981, “I’ve worked everywhere in this store but I like the soda counter best because I like to gab. I could never even begin to count the friends’ I’ve made.”
Carol went on to explain that Marie was more than a server to the customers. She was a friend to all and a second mother to the youngsters who met at the Kiefer’s soda fountain so often.
The store grew into a family effort as Alfred’s wife Margaret and daughter, Pam Abraham ran a jewelry store and his son Albert Jr operated a sporting goods store.
Until 1998, Al Kiefer Jr. operated a family hunting and sporting museum of hunting memorabilia, with mounted animals and antiques. The store was sold that year to Jim Novotny who operated an antique mall in the space.