After successfully crowdfunding their bar last fall, the Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop in Wilkeson is now open for business.
Run by Belinda Kelly and Venise Cunningham, the Soda Shop is far more than a typical small-town bar — everything in the store, from the alcoholic drinks and sodas to the syrups and sandwiches are prepared with the “farm-to-table” concept heavily in mind.
“We’re pretty prideful people, so if we’re going to have anything in the shop, we want to be sure that it’s excellent and that we’re proud of what we’re serving,” Kelly said in a recent interview. “We’re going to make all our spreads from scratch, our pickles from scratch, and we’re going to grow the ingredients on the farm as much as we can.”
The story of the Soda Shop started in September 2019, when Kelly and Cunningham hosted a Kickstarter in order to raise $15,000 for the future shop. The two already had plenty of business experience, with Kelly running the Happy Camper Cocktail Co. (a mobile bar and bartender service) and Cunningham growing many of the ingredients Kelly used in her business at the Simple Goodness Sisters Cocktail Garden in Buckley.
The Kickstarter was successful, raising more than $17,000. However, their planned June opening ran afoul of COVID, so the opening date kept getting pushed back until the Soda Shop was finally able to open on Oct. 8.
All that time, Kelly and Cunningham said they received much-needed support from their local communities.
“The town has been crazy supportive, which has been awesome,” Cunningham said, also giving a shoutout to Buckley and Carbonado. “They turned out in a huge way for us.”
If you’re looking to stop in, though, do it soon — any “farm-to-table” concept is seasonal, and the Soda Shop is preparing to be closed December to May.
Open hours are currently Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL SODA SHOP
Although Kelly and Cunningham wanted to tap into the emotions that come with a soda shop (nostalgia for the older crowd, curiosity for the younger) customers will discover unique flavors for their drinks.
“Instead of having traditional flavors like chocolate and strawberry and vanilla, we have rhubarb vanilla from our farm and we have marionberry mint and huckleberry spruce tip — more exciting, inventive flavors that we come up with because of what we grow,” Kelly said.
Of course, since everything is made fresh, the drink offerings are seasonal, Cunningham added, and they will rotate often.
For soft drinks, customers currently have the choice of the above flavors, plus blueberry lavender, lemon herb, and berry sage. All syrups used for the drinks are made from ingredients that came from the Simple Goodness Farm.
The cocktails — and mocktails — are equally inventive, like the Garden Gin Sour (gin, fresh lime, cucumber juice, and lemon syrup), the Hot Saw Shot (whisky, house pickle brine, and buzz button-infused vodka), or the Far Far Away (cucumber-lime-basil shrub, coconut milk, pineapple and orange juice, and cinnamon).
What’s even more special about these drinks is how they’re served.
“We serve a lot of cocktails on draft, which is unique,” Kelly said. “One of the reasons is for speed and the other is consistency — rather than having every bartender make a drink differently, every time you come in, the drink will be the same.”
But don’t expect these cocktails to come with the same punch you might find at your neighborhood dive bar.
“The alcohol is not the star of our cocktails. The cocktails are really, end-to-end, about what’s in them, whether it’s a fresh-squeezed juice or a bitters made from a small local bitters company that we respect, or our syrups that have so much heart and high-quality ingredients in them,” Kelly continued.
FAMILY FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE
The Soda Shop isn’t just for adults, either — Kelly and Cunningham wanted to make sure the whole family can come enjoy a cool drink or a hot meal with their panini and kid’s menus.
It’s “as family friendly as possible — your kids can get a milkshake to treat themselves, and you can get a cocktail to treat yourself, and everyone’s happy,” Cunningham said.
Sandwiches include the Venise (white cheddar with savory tomato jam and pesto), the Belinda (pepperjack cheese, turkey, pickled red onion and pesto), and the Cuban (pepperjack, ham, mustard, bread-and-butter pickles, and hot sauce).
There’s also ice cream, which you can have in a fresh waffle cone, made into a float, churned into a milkshake, or combo with any Simple Goodness Sisters syrup.
Over the winter, when the Soda Shop is closed, Cunningham and Kelly will be working on developing an outdoor so “we can greet people next May with a gorgeous outdoor space that’s dog and kid-friendly,” Kelly said. “In the future we’ll do outdoor movies and music events as the situation allows us to.”