By Nikita Naik
The Soda Shop, where customers can get fancy carbonated drinks, has found success with its second location. It’s attracting more families and students in the Gilbert and Mesa areas.
The second location opened this past summer at the corner of Gilbert Road and Brown Road in Mesa. This new location is less than one mile away from Mountain View High School, which makes it a hangout for students after school.
Dylan Roeder, 25, one of the owners and founders of The Soda Shop, grew up in Gilbert and went to Highland High School with his now business partner Chase Wardrop. He said that growing up in Gilbert, he always wanted somewhere that he could hang out and imagined The Soda Shop as that place.
The first location, at 4311 E. Baseline Road in Gilbert, opened in September 2015, and Roeder said it was an instant go-to-place. The two partners decided to expand to the new location in Mesa sooner than later.
The shop mixes sodas with unusual flavor combinations.
The Happy Camper blends root beer, toasted marshmallow syrup and Half & Half. The Waikiki is Coke, pineapple and coconut cream. The Shark Attack features Sprite, lemonade and blue raspberry syrup and is topped off with a gummy shark.
The fun flavors and homey locations are aimed at students and families, Roeder said.
“We would have to sit and think, what can we do to make the experience more enjoyable and how do we set ourselves apart,” said Roeder. “There’s so many people competing for that same time with a customer and we know that product pays the bills but the environment of the location also goes hand in hand.”
Emma Nelson, an employee at the Gilbert location, says that being a part of The Soda Shop team is more than just working at a place that makes fancy sodas. She says that the owners do their part in making sure their customers get the best experience during their visit.
“When I first got hired, the owners made sure to tell me this: anybody can make drinks but not everyone can make people want to come back just by how the vibe is,” said Nelson. “They just want to make sure that people feel loved here.”
Roeder said that the road to a successful business had its challenges, including learning how to be a boss.
“We knew we couldn’t do it ourselves and that we needed a team and obviously if a team is there a job is there even if they enjoyed it,” said Roeder. “We want to make sure the shop sustains them too. That’s where it financially gets scary. The brand is still new to Arizona and so is the concept.”
Lauren McAllister, an employee at the Mesa location, said most of The Soda Shop’s employees are high school students. The owners are flexible when it comes to outside activities because they want their employees to get the best out of their high school years.
The night of a big school dance, McAllister said the two owners of The Soda Shop “let us all go. They were the ones who stepped in. They worked that night while we went to the dance!”
Gilbert: 4311 E. Baseline Road Suite 101A; 480-794-1094
Mesa: 2010 E. Brown Road; 480-794-1054