The Fizz offers sweet memories

By Gary Henry ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 5/18/20

Something unexpected happened when The Fizz Soda Shop & Eatery at the corner of Main and Crawford recently tried a soft opening.

“We had no idea we would be so busy,” said owner …

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The Fizz offers sweet memories

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Something unexpected happened when The Fizz Soda Shop & Eatery at the corner of Main and Crawford recently tried a soft opening.

“We had no idea we would be so busy,” said owner Trisha Vitale.

The bright blue, shed-like building often has a line around it as people use the drive-through to order from a big menu of eclectic flavored drinks. Vitale currently has 16 part-time employees who went through extensive training learning how to mix the various drinks.

She said the soft opening was intended to ease the staff into practical experience and see what kind of flow patterns worked best to provide the fast and friendly service she wants every customer to experience as part of the business motto to bring fun and joy. Instead, it has been a frantic pace as everyone works to keep up with demand.

“It has been a good time to open,” said Vitale. “The community has embraced us.”

An operation like The Fizz does not happen overnight, and there is always a backstory to every new venture. Vitale said the business has been two years in the making.

“A few years ago, I was investigating up and coming trends,” she said.

One important discovery is young people do not want just a plain coffee or standard soft drink.

“The millennials love to customize everything,” said Vitale.

That realization along with a desire to capture flavors everyone associates with special events like fairs and festivals set her onto a path of experimenting by adding different flavors to base drinks such as coffee, teas, colas, root beer and others.

“My dining room has been a laboratory for the last year,” she said, adding personnel from her flavored syrup vendor, Torani, were helpful in guiding her through the process of creating what she called crazy drinks.

The Fizz is also equipped with a commercial kitchen of stove, grill and deep fryers and Vitale is waiting for a couple of more pieces of equipment to arrive. Drinks are the only offering at this time and food options will be added gradually as each change smooths out.

Vitale is also taking the lead in designing the food, just as she did the drinks. She said the cuisine is food truck inspired, and she anticipates offering breakfast bowls, sandwiches and easy to-go things like walking tacos and walking nachos. Snacks will likely be the first addition to the menu with more substantial options coming later.

What Vitale wants to do is continue innovating with flavors and food options.

“I don’t want our menu to become stagnant,” she said. “We all want something new to try.”

Vitale noted there are many positive things associated with The Fizz the public does not see. For example, the city helped through TIFF and the Enterprise Zone, which she referred to as terrific tools. Numerous local contractors were flexible about getting their tasks done in way that kept the project moving.

“COVID slowed us down some,” said Vitale. “We let only one contractor be here at a time. We didn’t want to be responsible for making anybody sick.”

She is also sourcing supplies through as many Illinois businesses as possible, including a Chicago coffee roaster.

“It’s been nice to assist other Illinois businesses in this terrible time,” said Vitale. “What is good for one is good for all.”

Employee Georgina Means said the business is selling lots of smoothies, energy drinks, slushies, frappes and signature beverages topped with whipped cream made every day on the premises.

The creative drinks on the menu are only the starting point since there are multiple syrups, sauces, fruits, purees and candies customers can add. Vitale likes it when customers take one of her creations and personalize it.

“It’s fun to watch what people create,” she said. “Customization is so much fun.”

With so many options, Vitale had to think before naming her favorite — a nitro cold brew with sweet cream.

“That’s probably my favorite drink,” said Vitale. “I’m a pretty simple girl.”