Banking on a new Pop Shop in Medford

Artist's rendering of the new Pop Shop, in old Farmers & Mechanics Bank.
Artist's rendering of the new Pop Shop, in old Farmers & Mechanics Bank. (MIKE PAGNOTTA)
Posted: July 31, 2014

A funky soda fountain and restaurant in Collingswood known as the Pop Shop is planning to open a second location in downtown Medford in late fall.

The new Pop Shop, which will be decorated with painted aqua, hot pink, and peach-colored "soda bubbles" against a yellow background, will be in the former Farmers & Mechanics Bank at 1 S. Main Street, said Bill "Stink" Fisher, a co-owner who will run the restaurant.

Fisher, an actor who appeared in Invincible and The Lovely Bones, said the 100-year-old building will be renovated and reopen as a 150-seat restaurant with a mezzanine and later may provide outdoor seating.

He and his former wife, Connie Correia Fisher, had opened the original Pop Shop nine years ago in a former supermarket on Haddon Avenue, and have been wooed by malls and other shopping areas that wanted to offer their unique brand, he said.

"The concept of the Pop Shop is Main Street America. And Medford screams that," he said, adding they had turned down malls.

Correia Fisher, a co-owner in the venture, will operate the Collingswood restaurant. "We chose Medford because we wanted to be involved in a community with an active Main Street and in a family-oriented town," she said. "Their economic-development people courted us."

The group introduced them to Gary and Joanne Gardner, builders who are doing the renovations and providing financing, she said. Gardner's great-grandfather was one of the bank's first presidents, she said.

Foot traffic

Medford's Planning Board unanimously granted a parking variance and other approvals last week. Beth Portocalis, assistant to the town manager, said the bank has been empty for about five years and town officials are enthusiastic about the new use.

"We anticipate it will create pedestrian and foot traffic along Main Street, which will be a big help to all the businesses, and will make Medford a destination again," she said. "We're trying to promote that we're open for businesses to come in."

The menu at the new Pop Shop will be the same as the one at the Collingswood location, featuring its distinctive 30 types of grilled cheese sandwiches, a dozen varieties of pancakes, various hamburgers, ice cream treats, and other offerings. The only difference is the names of the sandwiches - which currently reflect streets in Collingswood - will be renamed for streets in Medford at the Medford location.

'Happy to be back'

Stink Fisher, who only laughs when asked about his unusual nickname, said Medford has held a special place in his heart since he was a child. His parents had owned and operated the former Mountain Run Day Camp in Medford Lakes and he had spent many summers there on the lake and on the hiking trails.

"I have tremendous memories of Medford," he said, adding he grew up in Cherry Hill. "I'm happy to be back."

The Pop Shop will employ 50 to 70 people and be open seven days a week.

But first come the renovations: a new roof, elevator, beams, and other improvements. "There is a lot to do," said Fisher.

856-779-3224 @JanHefler

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