Fizz Soda Bar
8 of 11

Fizz Soda Bar

The Starbucks of soda
Where: Johnson City, Tenn.

Think old-time soda shop in a Starbucks-like setting. But Fizz Soda Bar applies the Starbucks model in more ways than just one.

First, it’s got an extensive menu of fancy sodas and floats—and not much else—that come at a higher price point than your average fountain drink or soft serve. Italian sodas are $5.50 or $3.50 for hand-mixed varieties made with specialty syrups. Fountain pop is available for $2.50, and it’ll cost an extra 50 cents to customize with a syrup shot—but they come with free refills. 

“We wanted to keep the menu as simple as we could, but with a variety of options,” says General Manager Catelyn Pate. “We worked hard with our business model to balance menu costs with offering superior products,” she says.

Second, Fizz’s appeal is about more than the sodas. It’s aiming for “a model that is very experiential for each customer,” says Pate.

A focus on sourcing local, high-quality ingredients is critical to the brand and why it can upcharge. But it’s also in place to fill a niche. The small business-friendly downtown Johnson City area has really started to grow and expand, says Pate. “But there weren’t many places to go in the evenings other than restaurants or bars and breweries.”

Nabbing the right location was key for Fizz’s foot traffic. “This location is very central and in an area that is likely to see some good growth in the near future,” she says. The shop itself is fairly small (about 500 square feet) and has limited seating, though the 10 seats at the window bar seem to be popular for people-watching.

Right now, Fizz sees more of a younger audience—high school kids, college students and millennials—but families and parents do stop in too, says Pate. Six months in, it’s resonating with the community and seeing a balance of repeat and new customers. While the immediate focus is on sustainable growth of current and potential clientele, expanding hours and some new products, Pate does think Fizz is a concept that can work in similar markets. “We intend to stay focused on our niche and don’t plan on expanding into other types of foods, beverages or snacks. We want to be the best in what we do, not just good at more things.”

“We liked the feel of an old-time shop, but with updated offerings that focus on the highest quality ingredients.”  —Catelyn Pate, general manager


Menu Makeup

  • 15 Soda floats
  • 8 Italian sodas
  • 6 Hand-mixed sodas
  • 5 Fountain sodas
  • 1 Monthly feature
  • Small-batch ice cream
8 of 11