Panel Information: Remembering Drake’s

Pharmacist Claude Drake managed J. J. Quarry’s drugstore when it opened on North Univer- sity and South State in 1898. A fancy onyx soda fountain was added in the back. Drake recalled, “We sold a special sundae at ten cents that brought in the crowds.” The fountain was removed in 1907 to concentrate on pharmaceuticals and surgical supplies.

In 1929 Claude Drake bought a sandwich shop behind you, just this side of Moe’s Sport Shop. He renamed it Drake’s and added trucks to deliver and sell sweets, ice cream, and sandwiches.

Drake’s was managed by Truman Tibbals. He and his wife Mildred bought the shop in 1933 and ran a unique campus hangout for the entire town for more than sixty years. Candy jars and a soda fountain lined the walls upfront, with high-backed green and black wooden booths in the rear. In the early years a piano player sometimes entertained. Tibbals personally selected over three hundred kinds of candy and tea. It was said, “You know it’s time to leave Ann Arbor when you’ve tried all the teas at Drake’s.”

Tibbals and his family moved out of the upstairs in 1939. He remodeled that space into the Walnut Room, where couples could foxtrot and jitterbug to his large collection of records. Drake’s was one of the hottest dance spots in Ann Arbor during World War II. In the 1950s the Martian Room (it was “out of this world”) replaced dancing with overflow seating. When Tibbals died in 1994, the landmark closed. Loyal patrons bought the shop’s fixtures, signs, and furnishings.