Summer has never been sweeter or more nostalgic.
Bekki and Joey O’Neal are setting up shop, School of Rock Soda Shop, to be exact, on Route 66 in Claremore.
After eight years of mulling it over, the couple took the leap and opened their business on May 15 next door to local favorite Front Porch Bakery.
“My husband and I are originally from Oklahoma,” said Bekki O’Neal. “We had moved out west for work and have lived in Utah and Nevada, and have traveled all over the west. Out there they have soda shops, they’re updated versions of old-fashioned soda shop where they’d mix the flavors, and you could add in different things.”
She said when they moved back home to Oklahoma, they didn’t see any of the soda shops they’d come to love.
“We shop at Front Porch Bakery all the time and saw this building next to them become available. We’d been thinking about it for 8 years and finally decided to go for it,” she said. “We’d already come up with the name, since we had been thinking about it for so long.”
The name, she said, reflects their admiration and support of education.
“I was raised by a mom that read to me every day and taught us the importance of education,” she said. “We hope we become a place the community will come and spend time. We already have some homeschool groups that want to come hang out and do some studying.”
Next school year, they’ll offer things like story time for early elementary aged kids before school. The shop is decked out with white boards and dry erase markers so kids can hang out, and work on homework while enjoying their soda concoction.
The shop offers Pepsi products and about 30 different flavors and add-ins you can use to create your own recipe.
“Or order from our recipes,” she said. “Some of the most popular are homecoming float- vanilla, fresh cream, and root beer. Or pep rally which has blackberry, vanilla and fresh cream in root beer or Dr. Pepper. We have several with fresh lemon or lime. And anything with fruit puree has been extremely popular.”
School of Pop Soda Shop also has snacks like bagged chips and popcorns- but the sodas are the star of the show.
With board games, card games, dice, and a set of old-fashioned jacks on hand, the O’Neals think their shop is the perfect place to spend summer days.
They hope to expand to add a “soda bus” so they can travel to community events and festivals.
“We’ve had very good response, everyone seems to really like what we’re offering so far,” she said. “We tell everyone we have a satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it we’ll make something else or add flavor until you’re pleased with your choice, but no one has given their drink back yet”
She said patrons all seem pleasantly surprised.
“When they get here they look around, they kind of look around timidly trying to understand the choice,” she said. “But you can see their eyes light up when they put it all together.”
“We were so, so very excited to be on Route 66. We live off of Route 66, too. We were ecstatic that our shop address says highway 66 in the name,” she said. “Being part of that history means a lot to us.”
She said the community has embraced the soda shop with open arms.
“They’ve been so supportive and enthusiastic. It’s been great. The community really supports new, small business so that’s been wonderful,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be here. We hope to be part of the community for a long time.”
She said they are prepared to host birthday parties, game nights, book clubs, etc.
“We have some board games and card games on hand for kids so families can come sit and enjoy a drink and play a game,” she said.