496 Main Street, Warren
(401) 245-6767

There is no better place to buy a cabinet than Delekta Pharmacy. With its dark paneled interior, old-fashioned fixtures, working soda fountain, and teeny, tiny booths, it's an experience out of another age.

The building that houses the pharmacy celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008. As far as anyone knows, a pharmacy has always operated out of its first floor. It was originally owned by a man named McCaw who was succeeded in the business by William Bennett, who in turn was supplanted by Howard DeWolf. In 1940 the business passed into the hands of Ignatius F. Delekta, who had already been working there for fifteen years, and it's been in the family ever since. Today, still little changed from horse and buggy days, it's owned by Ignatius' grandsons Eric, Nick, and Simon Delekta.

The cabinets and the late nineteenth-century atmosphere are a big draw, but prescriptions still make up the bulk of the pharmacy's receipts. A shelf of glass medicine bottles is just for show, though.

Cabinets come in the five basic flavors—chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, coffee, and mocha—with no frou-frou ginger flavor or cookie dough blobs to get stuck in your straw. The coffee and vanilla cabinets are made with Delekta's own homemade coffee and vanilla syrups. While you can ask what goes into them, don't expect to get an answer—the recipes are a closely held family secret. The coffee syrup recipe, according to Eric, originated with his grandfather, who died in 1985.

Delekta is also the only place we know of where you can get a vanilla or cherry Coke made the old-fashioned way—with Coke syrup, soda water, and flavoring mixed together on the spot.

On a visit in April 2009, we spoke with long-time pharmacist Kathleen Delekta Lowney about the origin of the word "cabinet." The usual explanation for where the word comes from is that the mixer used to make the drink was stored in a wooden cabinet behind the counter. So customers would request "the cabinet" when asking for what, in other areas of the country, was known as a milk shake or frappe. Kathleen confirmed that she had never heard any other explanation, and added that she believed cabinets had been served at the pharmacy since it opened in 1858. In any case she remembered the name "cabinet" from when she was a child.

Kathleen told us that coffee is the preferred flavor by far. In fact a departing customer, overhearing us trying to decide, stage-whispered an encouraging, "Coffee, coffee, coffee," on his way out the door.

Sip your cabinet in-house while looking at all the stuff in the display cases and soaking up the atmosphere, or take a stroll along Warren's Main Street. Sip it slow or sip it fast. It's all good.

Sadly, Kathleen Lowney was struck and killed by a car in front of the pharmacy on the evening of April 29, 2010. Kathleen started dispensing prescriptions at Delekta's in 1953, and before that she ran the soda fountain. She worked right up to the last day of her life. She was seventy-eight.

Delekta's is open weekdays, 8am-6pm; Saturday, 8am-4pm; and Sunday, 8am-noon.

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