A brand-new soda spot has opened up, in a place where soda spots generally aren’t expected to pop up.
Sarge’s Soda Shop had its soft opening on Dec. 6 in Grovetown, and locals have already commented on its rarity.
“I think a lot of people are still kind of wondering, ‘What is it?’” said co-owner Melissa Kerstetter. “What do they have in there?”
What it has are plenty of sweet, fizzy concoctions, such as the Pepsi, vanilla and raspberry “Cyber Sleuth” or the “Big Jim,” made of root beer with butterscotch and toasted marshmallow flavors.
“You kind of just pick your main soda that you like, and then you can add whatever you want,” said Kerstetter. “We have all different kinds of flavors.”
The drinks are curated mostly by her kids, Justice, Liberty and Kadence, who all work at the shop and are constantly testing, mixing and matching syrups and sodas to create new flavors. There are also various other treats to complement the soda mixes, such as chocolate chip or red velvet cookies, ice cream for floats, several types of gummies and even popcorn.
Melissa Kerstetter first conceived the idea of opening a soda shop after noticing the amount of traffic coming through soda shops near her hometown of Tooele, Utah. She and her family moved to the Augusta area from Utah about five years ago after her husband, Lee Kerstetter, was transferred by the Army. The Kerstetters also convinced Melissa’s brother, James Joshua Perkins, to move to the area with his children as well to help open the business.
“We thought we’d bring it here and let everyone try it,” said Melissa Kerstetter. “There’s nothing like that here. They’re mostly in the West Coast.”
The shop is designed to invoke a 1950s’ flair. Music from the 1950s is usually played (though currently one might hear Christmas music), and the interior is adorned with old-fashioned ornaments, such as an old payphone, classic soda bottles and flyers from earlier eras and, Melissa Kerstetter insisted on checkered floors to complete the look.
The name of the shop draws from the military background of Lee Kerstetter, who served in both the Marines and the Army, and actually retired from the Army on opening day. The name also comes from the Kerstetter’s family dog, who was named Sarge; though the Sarge’s Soda Shop mascot is a bulldog, in honor of the local affinity for the Georgia Bulldogs.
The military is commemorated also with some of the old-fashioned decorations, in keeping with the style of the shop and to acknowledge Grovetown being a military town.
“We tried to stick with the old military stuff,” said Lee Kerstetter about the shop’s classic Army, Navy and Marine bric-a-brac. “From World War II, that sort of thing, to go with the scene.”
Within the first week of Sarge’s opening, curious patrons, mainly families and some couples, have stopped by to enjoy the menu and the atmosphere, or even the convenience of its drive-thru. The family aims to have a grand opening in January and looks forward to serving sodas and sweets to their new neighbors in the meantime.
“We kind of thought we’d make it kind of simple and easy,” said Melissa Kerstetter about the setup a Sarge’s, as well as its menu, which is curated more toward quality than quantity. “The prices aren’t really high, so you don’t have to save up for months to go out. That’s what we want – come hang out, get a snack and enjoy.”
Sarge’s Soda Shop is located at 5155 Columbia Rd., next to Food Lion. For more information visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sargessodashop.