Once you get past the cash-only policy (an annoyance mitigated by an accessible ATM machine), you’ll probably — like the rest of us — fall madly in love with Sip’n Soda, the 60-year-old Southampton luncheonette occupying a modest spot on Southampton’s Hampton Road.
The restaurant was the pet project of William, Nicoletta, Paul, and Jim Parash, family members with a longstanding history of restaurant work. In 1918, William Parash opened the Oyster Bay Candy Kitchen. Seven years later, in 1925, he and his wife, Nicoletta, opened Bridgehampton’s Candy Kitchen, while living in the restaurant’s upstairs apartment, which is where they welcomed sons Jim and Paul.
Life for the Parash family was, for a while, circuitous. The family moved to Jacksonville, FL for a stint, before heading north again, this time to Mattituck, where they opened the Paradise Sweet Shop. With their sons in college and, later, the armed forces, William and Nicoletta ran their Mattituck restaurant with little fanfare.
In 1958, however, seeking a change, they relocated to Southampton, where they opened the now-legendary Sip’n Soda. When their parents passed away, Paul and Jim Parash took over the family business, maintaining the old school feel (and diner menu) of Sip’n Soda. Eventually, Paul’s son Mark joined in.
Today, diners can expect a consistency of aesthetic and intent. Sip’n Soda is still, true to its roots, a luncheonette, with booths and Formica tabletops, and a long counter with rotating stools. You won’t get lost in a tome of a menu, because the menu is slim, featuring by-the-book breakfasts (eggs any which way, predictable morning meats, toast, pancakes, cereal), while lunch — the restaurant is only open for dinner in season — features triple-decker club sandwiches, tuna melts, and epic smash burgers (three or six ounces, for what it’s worth).
There are also other classic rewards to be mined at Sip’n Soda. True New Yorkers may fall in love, all over again, with the egg cream, a nearly extinct confection made with soda water, milk, and flavored syrup, and, to this writer’s knowledge, only ever available in vanilla, chocolate, and, occasionally, strawberry. There are also banana splits and scoops of ice cream served in nostalgia-heavy metal cups.
Ice cream is made in house, and offered in a limited selection of traditional flavors, some of which change. But standbys include vanilla, chocolate, mint chip, coffee, and strawberry. Should you find yourself too full from those smash burgers (and, admittedly, frozen French fries), there are pints and gallons of the good stuff for sale, so you can sip’n soda your way straight to the nearest sofa.
There’s one more thing you should know about Sip’n Soda. They serve rickeys. Lime rickeys. The kind one might remember, ahem, from a Massachusetts youth. The traditional rickey is a raspberry-lime, essentially a limeade served with soda water and raspberry syrup over crushed ice. Cherry-lime is another traditional flavor, doused, unambiguously, with a healthy helping of grenadine. The cherry-lime is what you’ll find (for a non-traditional $4, but, hey, it’s the Hamptons) at Sip’n Soda, a bracingly cold, part-tart, part-sweet, icy delight. Your friends and family may not have any idea what a rickey is, and you may not, either, but rest assured that you’re stepping back in time, in the truest sense of the word, with every ounce of this drink.
That’s Sip’n Soda in a nutshell, actually: a little bit whimsical, a little bit nostalgic, a little bit hectic, and satisfying in all the right places. It’s an experience that promises to keep on delivering, well after you’ve rolled out the door and into the Southampton sunshine. And for that you’ll be thankful.