After seeing specialty soda shops popping up in places like Arizona and Utah (where she was visiting family), Katy Rees wanted to kick sodas up a notch in Sioux Falls.
“A gal decided that she was going to start making flavored sodas at a little drive thru in St. George, Utah and the concept took off out there,” said Katy. “So we were like, ‘Oh we’ve heard about it, let’s try it.’”
The concept came to fruition, and her business SoDak Soda Gourmet Soda Bar opened its doors early this past July in a retail center on West Trevi Place off of 85th Street. Katy says the family looked for almost a year for the right location.
“We say it’s a ‘create your own adventure’ soda shop.” – Katy Rees
“It was a combination of things, like finding something available with a drive thru (because that was really important to us), finding something that was affordable for a new business, and wanting to find a location where there would be families and a variety of population coming through,” she explained.
Patrons can go through the drive thru or go inside to choose from a variety of soda add-ins, like syrups, purée and cream, and fruit. Sodas include go-tos like Coke and Pepsi products, ginger ale, lemonade, and root beer, and come in 44 ounce, 32 ounce, 24 ounce, or 16 ounce cups.
All About the Base
Along with the soda base, customers can also add a still base, sparkling water base, or an energy base.
MORE ON THE MENU
+ COCONUT CREAM
+ VANILLA CREAM
+ WILD BERRY
Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Frosted Sugar, and Snickerdoodle
+ DARK KNIGHT
Lemonade, peach purée, and blackberry
Sierra Mist, strawberry, and cupcake
+ SWEET & SOUR
Ginger ale, green apple, and caramel
+ WIZARD’S BREW
Root beer, butterscotch, and double vanilla
Not sure what to pick for an add-on? Try choosing from the Favorites menu with over 20 options. A few include the Sweetheart with Crush soda, strawberry purée, and pineapple, and the Sunrise with Mountain Dew, orange, and vanilla.
“We created the Favorites menu along with using some favorites from other places, so we usually recommend that they start with that and then expand,” said Katy.
One of the most ordered drinks is the Abby Lou, which was named and created by Katy’s daughter.
“My daughter Abigail created the Abby Lou on the menu and she put it with Diet Coke, but she combined French vanilla and salted caramel syrups,” she recalled. “That has been one of our really popular ones.”
Abby also works at SoDak Soda part time, while Katy’s son is one of the shop’s regulars.
“My son is a paying customer on a regular basis,” said Katy. “He will come through the drive thru and I won’t even know it’s him because sometimes I don’t recognize his voice on the speaker.”
“ON A DRIVE HOME FROM YELLOWSTONE, WE STARTED TALKING WITH THE KIDS AND THOUGHT IT WOULD BE SO FUN TO START OUR OWN BUSINESS. Of COURSE AT THAT TIME WE WERE REALLY JUST TALKING, BUT THEN WE CAME UP WITH A NAME AND WE HAD THE IDEA. NEXT THING YOU KNOW, TWO YEARS LATER, WE HAVE A SODA SHOP.” – KATY REES
Business Advice from Katy
“There is a lot that we didn’t realize we were going to deal with that was overwhelming, and that has been difficult. But if you don’t give it a try you don’t know if you can do it or not, so we just went for it.”
The company strives to be a family friendly place for people to relax, have fun, and enjoy a soda and a snack. Snacks include Cookies, Rice Krispie Bars, Scotcharoos, Chips & Salsa, and Pretzels with Cheese Sauce.
“We see all kinds of people in here,” said Katy. “We see older people, high schoolers, families, and moms coming through during the day for a break from their kids.”
She continued, “And that was really our goal. We want this to be a place where anyone feels comfortable coming and can come and get a fun treat.”