Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[EID Feature] Voigt's Soda House is open in the Livernois Community Storefront through the end of the year

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

2013 Hatch Detroit semifinalists Voigt's Soda House has popped up inside the Livernois Community Storefront on the Avenue of Fashion now through the end of the year.

Though they didn't make it to the final four in the Hatch competition, owners Sarah Pavelko and Billy Shuman have been working on this concept for over two years now and continue to move forward in their efforts to open a soda and sandwich shop. They won first place in the TechTown Retail Bootcamp Showcase in November, which got them one month inside the Livernois Community Storefront rent-free through December.

After this pop-up ends, Voigt's will continue doing catering and special events. They are taking their time finding a permanent retail location, waiting for the right opportunity for their combination soup and sandwich spot, coffee shop, and old-fashioned soda parlor. Ideally they would like to be located in Capitol Park.

The pop-up coffee and soda shop is open Wednesdays through Sundays through the end of the month. (Click here for hours.) They are serving homemade soups and creative sandwiches along with their own trail mix, sweets from Treats by Angelique, and Better Made and McClure's chips. They also have a full espresso bar, but the real highlight here is their old-fashioned soda fountain drinks, for which the place is named.

They make all their own syrups from fresh, seasonal ingredients and their own homegrown herbs, then mix them with carbonated water and other items like vanilla ice cream and Angostura bitters. Seasonal syrup flavors include lavender lemon, cran-orange pomegranate, vanilla, Russian Tea (black tea, orange, cardamon), Hot Toddy (jasmine tea, lemon, honey), and Sinterklaus (cranberry shrub with cider vinegar). You can also purchase their syrups to take home and use in your own sodas, cocktails, or give as gifts. Order for pickup in-store; delivery is available for orders over $50. Syrups must be refrigerated and have a self life of 1-2 months.

Before voting started for the Hatch Detroit semifinalists, I interviewed Sarah about the concept behind Voigt's for Model D. Here is the Voigt's excerpt from that story about all 10 semifinalists:

Voigt's Soda House is a modern twist on the classic soda shop, featuring sodas and cocktails with homemade artisanal syrups made from seasonal ingredients and local herbs. With a particular mindfulness towards Detroit nostalgia – taking a trip downtown to Hudson's or visiting Stroh's and stopping for sodas and ice cream at their soda counters – Voigt's will have particular local appeal while also feeding the growing demand for locally-sourced homemade artisan products. Soda flavors will include things like peach Thai basil, cherry lime phosphate, and celery lime gin tonic. They will serve cocktails, food, and even "Detroit Coolers." (Vernor's is a Detroit product, after all.)

Voigt's was created by Sarah Pavelko and her husband Billy Shuman in their kitchen in Detroit's North End. Pavelko needed a way to use all of the herbs growing in her garden and started experimenting with syrups and cocktails. After considering more traditional concepts like a bar or coffee shop, they decided the soda shop concept was more unique. Named after Voigt Brewing Co., once the largest brewery in Michigan before Prohibition, the name pays homage to Detroit's history and one of the original urban planner families that helped shape the city we know now.

Co-owner Billy Shuman making a soda. 
Voigt's does not have a location but they are considering their home neighborhood of the North End, where they have lived for the last 10 years and where they hope to partner with neighborhood nonprofits to offer job training for local youth. With the money from Hatch, they would be able to purchase a liquor license and operate as a full cocktail bar. [NOTE: as they did not win the Hatch competition, this is no longer part of their business plan.] Otherwise Voigt's will open as a breakfast and lunch spot serving homemade sodas. Long-term they are looking to produce Voigt's own sodas and offer delivery of "adult care packages" filled with all the fixings for specialty cocktails (in lieu of flowers or fruit baskets for special occasions).