Here’s what restaurant operators may consider when selecting a fountain program.

The global craft soda market is still booming—it’s expected to top $855 million by 2028, according to a 2021 report from Fior Markets. While consumers are looking for healthy options across the board, they also want occasions to let loose a little and savor a treat or two, guilt-free. 

“What it comes down to is indulgence,” says Chase Slepak, chief operating officer of Boylan Bottling Co. “Maybe you don’t sit down and have a burger or a slice of pizza every day. When you do, you’re going to want a soda. It’s such a natural fit—it’s comforting and it’s what you would like to enjoy with those types of comfort foods. If you’re going to indulge, you should really enjoy it.”

Premiumization has been a strong trend for years, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. Starting a premium fountain beverage program allows quick-service restaurants to capitalize on that trend with every option on the menu.

“Fountain programs in general tend to yield better margins,” Slepak says. “They can also usually become self-serve, which is less of a burden on the already overworked restaurant staff. Quick-service restaurants also find that fountain programs mean a lot less inventory to manage—imagine 10 boxes attached to a machine, rather than cases upon cases of individual units.” 

Of course, bringing premium brands into a fountain program typically drives margins even higher. “Premium prices usually result in premium margins,” Slepak says. “It’s a huge point of differentiation for many restaurants. Our team has found so many Yelp reviews that highlight and praise restaurants for having a Boylan soda fountain. With our brand equity, it shows consumers that the quick-service restaurant has a beverage program that is a bit more thought-out than the standard—and it aligns with more premium menu offerings.”

One barrier that restaurants often encounter when setting up a premium beverage program is the sheer difficulty of sourcing. “Nobody really wants to partner with a new distributor just to bring in new beverage products,” Slepak says. “Most broadline foodservice distributors have limited beverage options built in. Boylan has a unique strategic partnership with Dot Foods, a major re-distributor to the large restaurant distributors. We also have more than 150 independent distribution partners. This extends our reach through all the major broadline foodservice distributors. Restaurants in all 50 states can stock Boylan products from distributors they’re already doing business with.”

It makes sense that equipment maintenance is also a concern. “One of the big things that comes up quite a bit when we start talking about fountains is, ‘Where do I get the equipment, and who’s going to maintain it?’” Slepak says. “We’ve done everything we can to build a very seamless and comprehensive equipment package for our foodservice partners.”

A Boylan fountain program allows restaurants to benefit from the wide familiarity consumers have with the brand. “We have national brand recognition—something that most craft soda brands do not have,” Slepak says. “We’re one of the few craft soda brands with a fountain product. We also use pure cane sugar and all-natural flavors and extracts. In addition to the ease of distribution we provide, restaurant operators can feel confident that they’re truly offering a premium product to their customers.”

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By Kara Phelps

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