I love soda fountains," admitted Sheldon W. Fantle, chairman of Peoples Drug Store Inc. They're a great place to go and get milk shakes made from scratch, he said.
Yet, he added, "There just isn't enough demand for them" in Peoples stores anymore. "Young people today want fast food."
As a result, Peoples is turning to the fast-food business. In the past two months, the chain has installed two Hardee's restaurants in its stores -- one in College Park, the other in Belle View, Va. In both cases, the space for the restaurants was carved out of the drugstores; they are separated from the stores by a wall to give each outlet a separate identity.
Peoples plans to install at least five more Hardee's this year. Peoples' has 70 remaining soda fountains.
Peoples has been trying to break into the fast-food business for some time, Fantle said. "We talked to various major franchises, including McDonald's, Burger King and Marriott Corp., which owns Roy Rogers," he said. But franchise packages those companies were offering just didn't fit Peoples' requirements, Fantle said. However, when Hardee's owner, the Canadian food and tobacco conglomerate Imasco Ltd., purchased Peoples in 1983, the drugstore chain's entry into the fast-food business became easy, Fantle said.