Four Foods Group (FFG)—a rapidly growing restaurant development, investment, and management company—today announced that it has acquired the Soda Shop, an early stage participant in the growing specialty soda marketplace. The all-cash acquisition closed on January 31. Soda Shop founders Chase Wardrop and Dylan Roeder both retain equity in the company and will serve as division presidents for the venture going forward.
The announcement comes on the heels of FFG’s acquisition of the popular and fast growing R&R BBQ restaurant concept and its announcement of expansion throughout the western United States.
“Our philosophy of finding smart operators who need growth capital and proven restaurant management systems continues to pick up momentum,” says Andrew K. Smith, FFG CEO. “We want partners who have skin in the game, both financially and from an operations perspective, and we’ve proven it’s a formula that leads to growth and success.”
FFG has described itself as a restaurant concept investment incubator and the FFG and Soda Shop partnership is a good example of how this approach creates opportunities. While participating in a lecture series with young entrepreneurs at Brigham Young University, Smith met Soda Shop founders Chase Wardrop and Dylan Roeder. The two BYU students had signed up for an hour session with Smith to get advice on becoming entrepreneurs while starting their first venture. However, the relationship did not end with that class appointment and over the course of the following months and years, Smith continued to provide advice and mentorship to Wardrop and Roeder.
Fast-forward a couple years and Wardrop and Roeder moved back to their home state of Arizona to launch The Soda Shop. There are currently two Soda Shop locations, one in Gilbert, Arizona, opened in 2015 and another in Mesa, Arizona, that opened Q3 of 2016. The menu features a variety of house-made concoctions that put a tasteful twist on the traditional fountain drink. For example, the “Don’t Ya Wanta” with orange soda, vanilla, and half and half, giving it flavors reminiscent of an orange push-up. The Soda Shop also offers frozen custard with candy mix-ins, cookies, and traditional Italian sodas.
“Chase and Dylan have all the qualities an entrepreneur needs to be successful and they are the type of partners I want while scaling this new venture,” Smith says. “They work hard, have passion for their brand, are sponges when discussing future strategy and improvements to make within the brand, and they never give up. That’s why The Soda Shop is where it is today: a hit in Arizona. “This starting point is exactly where the management and capital resources of FFG come into play when scaling a restaurant brand. The FFG model for incubating new and emerging brands provides support in key areas of business management to set their operating partners up for success. FFG has established expertise in development and construction, in-house real estate, facility management and set-up, operations, human resources, recruiting, hiring and training, payroll and benefits administration, IT support, marketing, financial oversight, accounting, and investment financing. Importantly, FFG provides capital to the support services for the business to grow while allowing the operating partner to maintain significant equity in the business as revenue increases.
“It is important to me that everyone wins in the process,” Smith adds. “One of my core beliefs is there is enough to go around for everyone. Thinking otherwise is one of the biggest mistakes any business can make, and it happens all the time in the restaurant industry. Too many people think keeping it all to themselves makes them more money but that is just flat out wrong thinking. When you focus on something other than your ownership and the money you make, it is magical and we’ve proven it can work.”
“Andrew has been so generous with his time and knowledge while we were getting our business concept developed and launched,” says Soda Shop cofounder Chase Wardrop. “This next step of really growing The Soda Shop is going to be a great ride.”
“We already have more than a half dozen sites we are looking at securing for our growth this year and this investment will let us put our foot on the gas pedal right now,” adds cofounder Dylan Roeder. “We are really looking forward to being part of Four Foods Group as another company in their portfolio of brands.”
The Soda Shop will focus immediate growth efforts in Arizona and Las Vegas.