October 08, 2021
The Soda Shop is one year old today, October 8, 2021. It's been 365 days, a WHOLE lot of cocktails, and about 85 shift grilled sourdough panini sandwiches each since we opened the Simple Goodness Soda Shop in Wilkeson to the public for the first time. We opened 5 months after we had originally planned to, due to the 2020 Pandemic, after renovating the property ourselves and navigating all the paperwork with state and county licenses.
The Pandemic affected our ability to hire sub-contractors, get licensing processed with the Liquor board, Pierce County Health department, and city of Wilkeson building department. Eventually, we stopped setting an "opening date" and took over project after project ourselves with the help of our Dad and Mimi, our husbands, our 85 year old grandmother "the Nanc", and a few friends.
Our shoe string budget was stretched, and surpassed. Our energy levels and optimism waned and soared daily as projects piled up and sadness and bad news came through every media source. While we worried, and mourned, we worked. The work was a scab that wouldn't heal, pain popping up unexpectedly just when you thought you were close to the end. The work was a salve, the escape in quarantine of another set of walls than our own at home, and in the monotony and mind release of hard work, on repeat.
We set up a school area for our new kindergarteners, each with their own curriculum and online meeting requirements, with vintage school desks and the school district's Wi-Fi hotspot, despite not having any heat or cooling in the building yet. So we brought blankets. And when the school day was too much or the Wi-Fi failed, we brought in our grandma's VCR/TV combo with every VHS tape from our childhood : Beethoven, The Last Unicorn, Cindarella, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
Through every project you see in the photos below, insert this soundtrack- the endless "you can do it", childish enthusiasm of 1990's Disney movies, the "sh- sh sh, shop, sh-sh, sh-shape" phoenetics video's our 6 year old's online curriculum, the cries from a 2 and 3 year old quieted by a timely bag of Pirate's Booty, the bickering of two sisters who have never felt more individually overwhelmed but will somehow weather it together.
We said opening a restaurant is like all big projects- you eat the elephant one bite at a time. Opening a restaurant during a Pandemic is like that elephant grew wings, and you're following it around in the air with a fork, on a rigged together trapeze. You can still eat it, but it will be infinitely harder. And you will feel very silly in the process. You would be crazy not to question your own appetite.
On October 8, 2020, we opened our doors to the public. We served a 1 year old his birthday ice cream cone. We greeted Skeek, the previous owner of the property, whose joy in seeing this space filled with families, food and drink again was palpable. We put out an edited menu that could easily pivot to to-go, and we served 1,224 cocktails, 1883 sandwiches, pickles, and waffles, and 1,585 ice cream treats. Most importantly, we served those to an incredible customer base who reinforced everything we know to be true of community, and the power of food, drinks, and people to come together to form something special, even in the midst of hardship.
Thank you, all, for the support you've given us this year, in dollars and in Instagram DM's, in Yelp and Google reviews, and in ordering syrups all around the country.
The buildings are conjoined, and far deeper than they appear from the street. The right side is the historic Soda Fountain, Jeweler, and most recently, Skeek's cafe. It was rebuilt after the Wilkeson fire around 1920. The left hand side is the newest and was previously a distillery, and before that, a bar called the Carbide Lantern. The left side of the building now houses the Soda Shop and is open to the public.
The historic right side remains to be renovated inside, except for a full commercial kitchen we originally added to the right side in 2018 for the our mobile drinks catering company. We use the unrenovated right side of the building for shipping and storage, and a small bar area is set up as a studio for recording drink making videos.
After our first season in business as affected by the Pandemic, we needed to re-prioritize the outdoor yard to get outdoor dining introduced before we opened for season 2 in May 2021. We ended up completing the patio by July of 202 with the help of Pelland construction and Hickle construction.
OUTDOOR DINING BEFORE
OUTDOOR DINING AFTER
Here's the before photo of the Simple Goodness Soda Shop counter... whew we did a lot! Notice there was no floor? In the next blog we'll talk about learning how to get a restaurant lay out approved by the Health Department and how Venise sanded every bit of the 2 inch thick maple floors that Dad and our Brewer, Greg, milled from historic Seattle glulam beams. And once, when the super heavy industrial floor sander got away from her, put a hole in the back wall of the dining room. ..good memories!
September 21, 2021
By now, you probably know that we grow the majority of our syrup ingredients on our 10-acre family farm, in Buckley, WA - and whatever we can’t grow is sourced from other ethical growers. But what does that mean? Sourcing is our most challenging and rewarding aspect of our business, and it’s complex.
March 31, 2021