Over the past few months, various businesses in Brownsville have welcomed Ford’s BlueOval City with signs displaying their excitement for the potentially life-changing project. A new Brownsville soda fountain offered a tastier way to celebrate the arrival of BlueOval City.
Livingston Soda Fountain and Grill60 S. Washington Ave., opened in Brownsville’s Town Square in March, about 15 minutes from the BlueOval City site in Stanton.
Livingston is owned by Jack and Glenda Pettigrew. When the soda fountain opened, Glenda already had five Brownsville-themed milkshakes on the menu, including one for music icon Tina Turner, a native of Brownsville.
The BlueOval City milkshake, which became available on Wednesday, is flavored with birthday cake to celebrate the birth of the project, Jack said. It is topped with blue sprinkles and also served with a blue plunger.
“It was something we wanted to do for Brownsville to help the community,” Jack said of the milkshake and Livingston. “With Ford coming in after we started the project, hopefully we can do anything to help them and help this community and get some growth and excitement.”
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One day, Ford’s workforce development manager, Andy Bianco, was sitting at Livingston’s counter having a milkshake and started chatting with the Pettigrews. During the conversation, the idea of a BlueOval City milkshake came up, Jack said.
Ten months ago, Ford officials, along with South Korean company SK On, announced plans for the $5.6 billion BlueOval City project to produce the next generation of electric trucks and battery packs. F-Series electric vehicles on a 3,600-acre site in Stanton. The project is expected to create around 5,800 jobs and begin production in 2025.
Jack, 72, is a retired doctor who has lived in Brownsville all his life. His father was the local pharmacist in Brownsville during the 1950s and 1960s. He visited his father at work and often received a special treat at the pharmacy’s soda fountain.
More than 60 years later, his dream of opening a soda fountain in memory of his father came true in March. Livingston is four doors down from his father’s old pharmacy. The “retro-themed soda shop” offers various shake, malt, float, soda, sundae, and sandwich offerings.
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The Pettigrews are Ford fans beyond the new milkshake. At Livingston, they have set up a memorabilia case with Ford memorabilia and sell locally made Ford pottery. Jack’s first car was also a 1968 Ford Mustang.
While Livingston was expected before the BlueOval City announcement, Jack is grateful for the boost he’s already given Brownsville and his business. He regularly saw customers from Memphis, Covington, and Jackson and various Ford officials from out of town.
“I can’t remember anything that has excited the community so much since I’ve been there,” he said. “It’s a lot of unknowns. We have never experienced anything like this. Everyone is just excited and the city is blooming with people wanting to do things and get ready.
Omer Yusuf covers the Ford Project in Haywood County, residential real estate, tourism and banking for The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted by email. Omer.Yusuf@commercialappeal.com or follow on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.