Ask any Ortega resident about Old Carter’s Pharmacy, and you’ll get a big smile. That’s because it’s been a part of the local landscape for decades. Tucked away in Old Ortega, on Corinthian Avenue off Ortega Blvd, this old-fashioned pharmacy and lunch counter has been catering to the neighborhood for sixty years.Fred Kent, a longtime Ortega resident, has fond memories of Carter’s growing up. “It was the real center of everything,” he says. More than just a pharmacy, the store boasted a traditional soda fountain and lunch counter (and still does today), and also played the role of bank and post office in a pinch; residents could stop by to cash checks or buy stamps on the weekends. Today, the menu is simple but hearty–grilled cheese and egg salad sandwiches, chicken and tuna salad, BBQ and pulled pork. And of course, milkshakes.
Carter’s Pharmacy opened in 1955. Bill Carter, the owner, had graduated from the University of Florida pharmacy school and was working at Braden’s Pharmacy on the Westside. Braden decided to open a store in Ortega and offered Carter a deal: if he worked at half-salary for a year, Braden would make him a partner. In 1967, Carter gained full ownership.
In past interviews, Carter has said that he doesn’t pay any attention to competition from chain stores, and that the keys to his success are personalized service, knowing every customer by name, allowing credit, and making free home deliveries. Reviewers call the pharmacy “a step back in time” – and a welcome refuge from the 21st century.
Carter’s Pharmacy is located at 2923 Corinthian Avenue.