Andrew Moger, founder of BCD Strategic Investments, is an investor and has been an operator in the restaurant space for many years. The career requires him to pay close attention to concepts and trends across the industry. Recently, his studies have focused on the proliferation of the beverage segment.

The foodservice veteran was impressed by the likes of Dutch Bros and 7 Brew, two quickly growing drink chains that lead with coffee, but offer a host of other beverage platforms to attract consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z. Moger was also attracted to Utah-based Swig, a pioneer of dirty sodas (carbonated drinks mixed with creams, syrups, fruit juices, and other flavor mixtures). With around 500 franchised units in development, the brand is the first to build this type of beverage at scale.

These concepts target suburban drive-thru locations. Moger was intrigued by the idea of taking flavored drinks’ fame and packaging it in a metro environment like New York City. He understands Swig is most popular in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where there’s a different taste palate, so he and his team gave a lot of thought about how their concept should be adjusted for an urban market. They concluded that what they were bringing to NYC was universally appealing.

And thus, Cool Sips—a dirty soda concept with a beach town theme—was born in the Big Apple. The concept debuted at the Rockefeller Center in March and added a second location at the city’s Seaport district.

The brand features three menu categories: signature sips, stuffed sips, and a create-your-own option. Examples of signature sips include Dirty Dirty (Dr Pepper, coconut lime, and half & half), P-Town (Starry, blue raspberry, and watermelon), and Malibu (Pepsi, caramel, and sweet cream). The stuffed sips are filled with boba and jellies, hence the name. This platform has the Dewey (lemonade, mango, pineapple, and mango jellies), which is the best-selling drink on the menu. There’s also Pines (club soda, peach, and kiwi boba) and Tybee (orange Gatorade, strawberry, vanilla cream, and strawberry jellies). With the create-your-own option, customers can choose a liquid, syrups or creams, and other toppings to make their own concoction.

“We really decided to give people what they want, which is good old-fashioned basics like sodas and lemonade and iced tea,” Moger says. “And then give them the choice to customize it as they want with delicious syrups and creams and bursting boba. And so you could have something really basic or you can have something really [creative]. And we really wanted to just give the full array.”

The first Cool Sips opened at the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
Cool Sips has received positive feedback from customers thus far.
Cool Sips took its inspiration from Swig, Dutch Bros, and 7 Brew, but was built in urban-based New York City.

Moger swiftly crafted the menu as a requirement from a landlord during the negotiation for the first location. The list featured 12 drink ideas that Moger personally liked. Almost all of these beverages made it to the final iteration. He also highlights the creative involvement of his staff in the menu development process. Shortly after opening, Cool Sips launched an internal competition inviting team members to devise new drinks. This initiative led to the creation of the Dewey. Moger adds, “I love the idea of our staff being the innovator of our drinks because they’re going to be the best salespeople for us. So I love that they were doing it.”

In addition to a creative menu, Moger was hyper-focused on making Cool Sips simple to operate. The first store is 500 square feet and the second one is 200 square feet. He believes the brand could go even smaller if necessary.

“If I have to point to something that I’m really proud of, it’s that we’ve made it very, very operationally easy,” Moger says.

With a rich background in restaurant development, including investments in world-renowned establishments like Noma in Denmark (once called the world’s best restaurant), Moger is no stranger to scaling unique dining experiences. He explained that the adaptation of Cool Sips to an urban model was strategic, aiming to exploit untapped market opportunities that others have overlooked. He also details how operational flexibility is integral to the growth of Cool Sips. The chain is planning to develop a self-sustaining mobile cart to further capitalize on its versatile business model. The innovation is designed to operate in diverse environments—from bustling city plazas to stadiums and event spaces.

Cool Sips was initially intended for company-owned stores, but the foundational approach of efficiency and simplicity paves the way for future franchising opportunities. Essential equipment is integrated directly into the plumbing system, eliminating the need for extensive preparation and reducing waste. The layout allows staff to start their day with minimal setup time. For instance, at the Rockefeller Center location, employees can arrive 30 minutes before opening, focusing mainly on organizing and ensuring the space is pristine. The daily routine is straightforward—open at 11 a.m., and by closing time at 7 p.m., the cleanup involves merely washing a few utensils, allowing staff to leave by 7:30 p.m.

Moger also says the ease of operations affords the luxury of focusing on hiring individuals dedicated to providing high-quality hospitality. The simple side work and a clean environment—free from the typical odors associated with fast-food kitchens—make Cool Sips an attractive workplace for those who might not typically consider a career in quick service.

“They can really spend their time being creative with the drinks and interacting with the guests in a way that they may not get a chance to in other quick-service or fast-food companies,” Moger says. “And so for us, we’ve had great staff. Love our team. They have embodied the type of hospitality that we want. And because of that, it makes for a really appealing case for franchising.  Low start-up cost, ease of operation, a wider labor pool to hire from. And yes, we clearly see this as an opportunity down the road for that type of growth if we choose to go that route.”

One of the biggest challenges ahead of Cool Sips is education since a large part of the population is still unaware of the dirty drink category. Despite the initial hurdle, Moger says there haven’t been any complaints regarding product quality or pricing from consumers. Moreover, guests have enjoyed the interactive aspect of creating their own beverage combinations, which adds an element of fun to the experience. The array of choices in syrups, creams, and toppings has occasionally overwhelmed newcomers, prompting Cool Sips to enhance its staff training to better guide customers through the selection process.

Addressing the popularity of dirty sodas among younger demographics, Moger emphasizes the significant role of social media in shaping food and beverage trends. He notes that the visual and auditory appeal of dirty sodas—like the satisfying crunch of pebble ice—resonates strongly with this group. Moger, who personally enjoys a mixture of club soda, black tea, and peach syrup, acknowledges the generational divide in beverage preferences but remains committed to catering to a diverse customer base while capitalizing on current trends.

“We’re speaking to that group as well who just want to come in and find their drink and have it as their afternoon break instead of a cup of coffee,” Moger says. “So it really runs the gamut from the millennials and that target group of people to those who just want a good drink.”

Beverage, Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Growth, Story, Web Exclusives, Cool Sips