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Quirky soda concept acquired as the foundation for a multiregional chain

The 17-unit Swig “dirty soda” and snacks chain has been acquired by the investment firm that bought The Soda Shop group earlier this year.

Swig founder and CEO Nicole Tanner will remain involved with the concept, a brand that has been closely watched because of its volumes, margins and unique market position. Operating in Utah, where caffeinated and alcoholic beverages clash with tenets of the Mormon religion, the predominant faith in the area, Swig sells hand-blended specialty sodas through drive-thrus as a snack and meal replacement. Typically a big brand of soda is blended with flavored syrups, creating what the chain markets as a dirty soda.

Swig has spawned a number of competitors in other areas, including Fizz and two-unit, Arizona-based Soda Shop.

The buyer, Four Foods Group, said it plans to rapidly expand the all-company-run operation, working with Tanner. “Together, we expect to take the specialty soda market by storm,” CEO Andrew Smith said in a statement. “Within 18 months, we intend to add locations in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and throughout the Midwest.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Utah-based Four Foods already operates 131 restaurants, including R&R Barbeque, Kneaders Bakery & Cafe and franchised Little Caesars pizzerias.

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