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What is a Soda Shop?

Learn about the history of soda shops, how to start one, and what to expect on the menu when dining at one.

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Soda shop

A soda shop is an eatery that specializes in soft drinks. Learn about the history of soda shops, how to start one, and what to expect on the menu when dining at one.

What is a Soda Shop?

A soda shop is a business where soft drinks are sold. They usually also specialize in other sweet treats, such as milkshakes and ice cream. The interior design of a soda shop usually consists of a countertop with spinning stools for customers to sit on with a large mirror behind the counter. On the counter, customers could see the necks of the soda spouts for all the different types of soda the shop offered.

What is the history of Soda Shops?

The term “soda shop” comes from “soda fountain” which refers to a gathering place where people would go for soft drinks and milkshakes. They were mainly popular across the mid-western states in the United States. In 1903, the first soda fountain functioned as a machine that provided soft beverages. The soda fountain was introduced alongside the luncheonette in drug stores as a way to appeal to more customers during the afternoon. 

In the 20th century, some business owners decided to open shops centering on the soda fountain, as opposed to installing them within a drugstore. These became known as the “soda shops” and since they launched during the prohibition era, they were considered a nice alternative to bars. Thus, teenagers would flock to soda shops for social events, like dates and other activities.

What is typically on the menu at a Soda Shop?

In addition to carbonated beverages offered by the soda machine, a soda shop also served ice cream treats, such as milkshakes, root beer floats, and ice cream sundaes.

How do you start a Soda Shop?

A soda shop is a nostalgia-based business, so if you want to embark on opening a soda shop concept, you must be committed to recreating the ambiance with authentic décor and design. For example, you should plan to invest in working with a designer who can help transform your space into a 1920s-era soda shop, complete with old-fashioned soda fountain equipment and spinning barstools for customers to sit on at your counter. 

The first step to starting your soda shop is to create a business plan that outlines your concept, market research, menu ideas, and financial outlook. 

Other steps include finding a location, securing financing, and designing your food menu. You will also need to obtain a health department permit, a food handler’s license, and a food sales permit, among other steps.

How much does it cost to start a Soda Shop?

Soda shop opening costs can vary based on location, local rent prices, whether you have furniture and seating, renovation needs, and more. The average cost to open a restaurant can range from $100,000 to $2 million.

Typically, the average price per square foot is between $100 and $800 with the median at $450, so consider the size you need for your soda shop and what service model you want to offer.

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