What does it look like when you blend modern takes on traditional cuisine, a dash of nostalgia, and a lively downtown vibe into one location? It looks like Tom Sheffer’s newest restaurant concept, Soda Jerk! And it’s coming to The Avenue on Jefferson Street this September.
But don’t expect a cartoon of your typical 1950’s soda fountain shop.
“We’re not trying to be a caricature or a moment in time,” said Tom Sheffer, seasoned restaurateur and owner of Soda Jerk. “There won’t be any 50’s music or retro outfits. Instead, we wanted to create a modern spin on the soda fountain concept. We’re calling it ‘fine-fast’ service, and will offer quintessential American fare, but done really well.”
Soda Jerk’s menu will feature crowd favorites including burgers, hot dogs, tacos, ice cream, and milkshakes. “We are also going to have a full bar in the space,” said Tom. “We wanted to take advantage of the downtown entertainment district, and give people a place to sit out on the patio and enjoy the atmosphere.” A selection of craft cocktails, beers, and wines will be available.
Charlie and Sasha Sealy, developers of The Avenue, are also excited to welcome Soda Jerk to the development.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tom Sheffer and his latest restaurant concept, Soda Jerk, to The Avenue,” said Sasha. “This fast-casual eatery and bar will be a great addition to the Downtown Huntsville dining scene. And we know The Avenue’s residents—as well as the rest of the Rocket City—will love it!”
The idea for Soda Jerk grew from Tom’s existing restaurant, Avo and Dram, located in Birmingham. Tom began looking at ways he could create the same high-quality food, but in a more convenient counter-service setting. And so, Soda Jerk was born.
“What we loved about the idea was trying to create something that offered more counter service that would appeal to large lunch traffic,” said Tom. “This fit perfectly with the pace and life in Downtown Huntsville.”
Tom is no novice to the restaurant business.
Jackson’s in Nashville was Tom’s first restaurant concept, which later expanded into a second location in Homewood. Avo and Dram followed, and the awards and recognitions began flowing in. Avo and Dram alone received the 2016 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, and numerous BirminghamWine.com awards. But with all of that success in mind, why did Tom choose Huntsville?
“Running a restaurant in Downtown Huntsville has much in common with doing so in a bigger city,” said Tom. “If you visit New York, Chicago or Boston, everything is a mixed-use development by necessity. They are along the lines of The Avenue and Downtown Huntsville with residential, office, and retail in one space. The downtown growth certainly attracted us to the area.”
Tom said that having a location downtown will immediately “add life” to the restaurant, and continue to thrive thanks to plenty of different choices and back-and-forth traffic among tenants.
“The pace of Huntsville is good,” said Tom. “It’s growing population wise and they are opening a lot of new business. But we don’t normally do demographic studies. We are still small enough to go with gut feelings, and for us, The Avenue is perfect for our next location.”
Its appeal is in its simplicity.
“With Jackson’s, we were trying to be all things to all people, and it has worked, but I think the simplicity of Soda Jerk is what we are most excited about,” said Tom. “It will still be an uptown restaurant with uptown ingredients like we offer at Avo and Dram. But served faster and with smaller portions.”
Tom sees it as a perfect place to grab lunch between business meetings, and also a great place to bring the family.
“We think we will fit perfectly with Downtown Huntsville and what’s happening there. We look forward to opening and giving the neighborhood quality food with fast service.”
Stay tuned for more updates on the opening of Soda Jerk. Let us know what you think of this new Downtown dining option!
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CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP