When we first opened our Wilkeson, Washington restaurant we had an idea of wanting to meet our customers in real life, offline, to let them try the syrups we were already crafting in small batches with garden ingredients, and selling from our blog's website. We wanted a space to grow a community around our products, and we loved the romance of bringing back to life a pre- turn of the century building. We saw from Belinda's mobile bar company how impactful it was to taste the syrups in drinks. She served drinks at events all across Washington state, and customers raved about the garden inspired cocktails and "zero proof" (non-alcoholic) drinks made with Simple Goodness Sisters syrups.
The Soda Shop helped us to connect with our customers and feed our hospitality driven, extroverted selves, while helping our customers understand how the not so simple syrups could transform your home bartending game (or coffee drinking, tea making, or even baking.) You can read more about how we ended up in Wilkeson and our reflections after 1 year of being open to catch you up to speed.
Now, in year four, I can say that the Soda Shop is not only so much more than we initially envisioned, it is finally fulfilling the visions that we did have from the start. At the beginning, we didn't anticipate the menu we'd need to serve to meet our local licensing requirements, or the equipment layout required (if you ever want to open a restaurant, take whatever you think you need for refrigeration and just go ahead and triple it. Put that in your budget.) However, since the beginning, we knew we wanted a warmly furnished space, with multiple uses for the two conjoined buildings that would include a kitchen in which we could bottle our syrups and let our customers understand the process, as well as a beautiful dining room and outdoor dining that attracted a community of diners and drinkers. As the daughters of an absolute wizard of an architecht and contractor, we had added and subtracted walls, doors and windows in our minds We looked around the rooms as they were and we had the vision of a space that was no longer dark, peeling, and crooked but bright, functional, and true to the original character of the 1891 building whose future we now determined.
But have you ever done anything halfway and had to live with that for years? Maybe lived through a home renovation that is never quite finished, or taken an extended number of years to finish a degree? It is deeply unsatisfying for a person with a goal and a vision to deny themselves a finish line, for four years. Our winters "off," when we close the Soda Shop for the low tourist season, have allowed us to move forward in increments.