SEBRING — If you didn’t get there over the weekend, don’t worry: Sebring Soda and Ice Cream Works has plenty of cold bottles and scoops.
The popular downtown specialty soft drink and ice cream parlor, displaced July 30 from its Ridgewood Drive location by a wayward driver, has now reopened at 201 Circle Park Drive, and is drawing an after-hours crowd. Most, if not all of them, opted for a place to see and be seen in the high-top tables in the front display windows overlooking the corner of Circle and Ridgewood.
The high-visibility spot has been touted by tourism officials, like Casey Wohl Hartt, marketing consultant for the Highlands County Tourist Development Council, as a happy accident for owners Renee and Jeff Kennedy. Although the wreck took out their storefront and thousands of dollars of product, they had all their equipment moved, disconnected and securely stored behind storm shutters in the new location during Hurricane Irma. They also had an opportunity to move across the street into a more prominent location that’s raised off the street level — which should give protection from future bad drivers.
“It’s a bad situation but it may work out to be a better location for them,” Hartt said in August. “It has more visibility.”
“We were having a good summer, surprisingly,” Jeff Kennedy said in August about their business during the off-season and prior to the wreck.
He said spring drought and summer heat waves may have had something to do with it. The Kennedys have had their store for two years and had planned to serve waffles with ice cream and their stock of 250 vintage and hard-to-find sodas.
They now have more flavors of ice cream, but have forgone the waffles, despite the fact that the newly-bought waffle irons were out of harm’s way for the wreck.
The Sunday night that a pickup truck plowed through their front window, they had gone home after accepting an ice cream delivery on Saturday and going “soda shopping” that day. Both loads of supply got destroyed along with a two-door cooler, with 800 sodas in it.
They have since bought a three-door cooler to replace it. Each shelf holds eight rows of bottles, 10 bottles deep, and each cooler section holds five shelves, for a total of 1,200, when full.
Renee Kennedy said Monday she had just restocked the cooler and some of the root beer bottles would not yet be ice cold. That didn’t stop Suzi DelGrosso and her son, Sam DelGrosso, from shopping for root beer, with some direction and advice from Jeff Kennedy.
He said most people who want to step up from root beer choose sarsaparilla. Suzi DelGrosso stuck with a Boylans Root Beer, while Sam DelGrosso picked “Dang!” a butterscotch root beer variety.
With new freezers from Working Cow — their ice cream vendor — the Kennedys have more ice cream flavors to match up to 350 varieties of soda.
Most of Monday’s customers had a cup of ice cream with one or two sodas, to take sips between scoops. Some had floats.
When asked what would mix well with butterscotch root beer, Jeff Kennedy pointed to butterscotch ice cream, but also conceded that “Fried Ice Cream” flavor, with its notes of cinnamon, would mix well, too.
Those who haven’t yet made a selection on site can visit the Facebook page — www.facebook.com/sebringsoda — and peruse their favorite flavors.