KC Soda Co.’s new City Market shop offers more than 1,000 selections of craft sodas — from Donald’s Populist Punch to original sarsaparilla.
It took a spot at 20 E. Fifth St., a space that used to be part of the bar at Winslow’s City Market Barbecue but that had recently been converted to a retail space.
KC Soda Co. also has locations in downtown Lawrence and the Legends Outlets Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan. The stores stock more than one thousand varieties of soda from more than 200 domestic craft makers, with international sodas from Australia, Germany, Japan and Peru that sell out quickly.
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Flavors range from classics including root beers, colas and cream sodas to unique flavors such as spruce beer, bacon, marionberry, celery and pickle sodas. Limited and special edition flavors like pecan and pumpkin pie sodas are recommended for ice cream floats. Manager Cale Fichter recommends pouring a banana-flavored soda over chocolate ice cream.
Some bottles play on politics such as Donald’s Populist Punch, Hillary’s Liberal Limeade, and Leninade, a pink strawberry lemonade soda sporting the Soviet hammer and sickle on the label.
Part of the fun of the stores is in perusing soda names such as Alien Snot (kiwi and blue raspberry), Toxic Slime (blueberry, raspberry and orange) and Dog Drool (orange lemon).
Customers can buy one bottle at a time, or they can customize 6-packs, 12-packs, or 24-packs for quantity discounts. The store offers some selections in a cooler but also features a spin chiller that can quickly chill up to four bottles.
“I really have always loved the City Market, River Market. The neighborhood feel with residents stopping by to chat,” said owner Luke Thompson. “The area is booming with residential construction so I love the density and people being able to grab the soda and walk around.”
Thompson and Matt Baysinger opened the Lawrence store in April 2014 and then a location in the Legends Outlets Kansas City in mid-2015. They also started the Breakout KC escape room operations with Ryan Henrich. But in January the partnership group changed with Thompson taking over KC Soda Co. and Baysinger and Henrich taking full ownership of Breakout KC.
“I wanted to focus on soda and I was just overwhelmed with Breakout and they wanted to expand,” Thompson said. “This way I can focus on my passion, and they can focus on theirs.”
He expects to roll out a signature soda line that will include root beer, vanilla cream soda, tropical soda and ginger ale later this year.
Winslow’s reconfigured its restaurant and bar area in late 2016 and that opened up a space for the KC Soda Co. The City Market is now at 99 percent occupancy.