The soda fountain at MacAlpine’s has been serving Phoenix families for nearly a century, but it is in danger of closing if the owners can’t raise the funds to reopen (photo by Kathryn M. Miller).

It is listed in Atlas Obscura as one of “22 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Phoenix,” and one of those places that residents drive by and think, “I need to go there one day.” But one day may never come if owner Monica Heizenrader and her daughters cannot reopen the historic MacAlpine’s Diner and Soda Fountain.

Housed in what was originally Birch’s 7th Street Pharmacy, which opened in 1929 when 7th Street was just a “dusty old trail,” the soda fountain was a center for activity for people of all ages. Fred “Mac” MacAlpine bought the pharmacy and the fountain 1938, and the MacAlpine’s name has endured as the building and business changed hands. In 1981, the pharmacy closed and a neighboring antique dealer purchased the building and added the restaurant component to the soda fountain.

“We bought MacAlpine’s in 2001, right before September 11th, so the timing was not great, and things got really hard,” Heizenrader recalled as she sat in a booth rumored to be favored by Rose Mofford, long before she served as Arizona’s governor. “But it was my husband Cary’s dream to own a restaurant — he used to tell me all the time it was in his blood because he grew up in his family’s restaurant in Fresno, CA. And MacAlpine’s was going to close and they were going to auction off the contents on eBay. We had been here different times as customers and we just felt it was incredibly special, and decided we wanted to save it.”

Heizenrader hails from Iowa and felt an immediate connection to the building, but is drawn to the history as much as the ambiance.

“We’re a new city and we don’t have many things that have been around for a long time. MacAlpine’s is worth saving because it is so unique and our clientele through the years is truly a who’s who of Arizona — John McCain, Barry Goldwater, Barry Jr. still comes in…supposedly Wayne Newton was discovered here.” She added jokingly, “I can’t confirm this, but I really believe that his DNA is in the bubble gum under the counter.”

The list goes on, as does the history.

“It has something that appeals to everybody. Old people like it because it reminds them of their childhood. Young people like it because it has ice cream. For people in their mid-20s, they just think it’s really cool because it’s so different than anything else. When you walk through the door, it is a step back in time.”

Fast forward from 2001 to 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic. On St. Patrick’s Day, the restaurant was forced to close along with everyone else. When they were able, they reopened to offer take-out, but it was not successful — people really wanted to go in and enjoy the atmosphere. Then, tragedy struck closer to home when Cary became ill and died, which was “unbelievably traumatic for the family,” Heizenrader recalled.

She and her daughters Holly, the pie baker, and Heidi, who works front of house, rallied and have made multiple efforts to reopen, but injuries, unexpected, expensive repairs and property expenses, which continue to add up regardless of whether the business is open, have plagued the family, and they have found themselves in a precarious situation.

A plea to the community for help was posted on GoFundMe Oct. 5. “Asking for help is incredibly hard but MacAlpine’s is at risk of closing forever,” the post reads.

“We want to do pies for Thanksgiving and open in December,” Heizenrader said. But to do that, they have to have the capital to hire back staff, get the diner ready for customers and take care of other business expenses.

If they can’t reopen, the community stands to lose out as well as the family. Heizenrader knows that they are not alone as a struggling business, “We’ve lost so many restaurants recently.” But for many in the community, the stakes feel higher with MacAlpine’s.

“They’ll lose a very special part of Phoenix — something that’s irreplaceable,” Heizenrader said.

At press time, the fundraiser has raised just over 10 percent of its $93,500 goal. Those who would like to lend a hand and help save this piece of Phoenix history can visit

MacApline’s Diner and Soda Fountain is located on the northeast corner of 7th Street and Oak in Phoenix. Learn more at


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