It’s a soda shop and the family-friendliest bar in all of Wilkeson. Say hello to the Simple Goodness Sisters.
In this blog article, we have a chance to interview the founders of the Simple Goodness Sisters to learn more about their product lines, farm, and their new cafe.
We love the Carlson Block, Nomad PNW, and the small-town vibe of Wilkeson. You’re a terrific addition to the community! What drew you to this new location?
We love small-town living and the strong sense of community that accompanies it. We live in Buckley and Enumclaw, so rural communities are close to our hearts. The other businesses in our area have done a wonderful job of supporting and building up the community, while also drawing in locals from surrounding towns, and it felt like something really special was beginning here in Wilkeson.. As a business owner, this potential for strong local support was appealing, as was the large number of visitors the area receives for Mount Rainier recreation.
What is a family-friendly bar and why did you want to open one?
Small town bars have long been the gathering spot of their communities, where people get together, share information, celebrate, and relate to one another. At their best, bars bring people together. We envisioned a bar that could bring EVERYONE in the community together, in a welcoming, fun, and safe way. Our bar is a place to have a couple of really well made and delicious drinks, responsibly. It’s a place where a mocktail gets the same care and attention as a cocktail and a kid is as welcome as their parent. We encourage moderation with our craft cocktails and extremism with our ice cream. We believe in respecting alcohol and doing it justice with great ingredients and great care in our drinks. We believe when you approach any food or drink this way, knowing where it came from and how it was grown and why it tastes the way it does, it just goes down differently. And we are also moms. Becoming mothers, we noticed that we didn’t get out as much as we used to and that could feel really isolating. We didn’t have a great spot to gather in our communities anymore that felt comfortable and had a great selection of food and drink for kids and adult palettes, and we wanted to create that. Here, you can get together with your friends and your kids, you can have a beer or an ice cream cone, and truly, everyone is welcome.
The name is the Simple Goodness Soda Shop- what is a soda shop? How is your place different?
The Simple Goodness Soda Shop is a modern take on the classic Americana soda fountain, which is especially fitting here at 535 Church, because in the 1950s, the building was a soda fountain. What we’ve done is switch up the flavors of the classic Soda Shop to showcase the garden to glass flavors from our farm, like Rhubarb Vanilla Bean syrup, and Lemon-Herb syrup. The shop menu is inspired by our farm to bar drink syrups and features ice cream, sundaes, shakes, Panini sandwiches with seasonal salads and soups, homemade pickles, homemade pesto, spreads, and jams, hearty snacks, waffle sticks, and of course, garden to glass cocktails.
Really, the bulk of our menu was inspired by how people use syrups since our syrup company came first. And that’s what the original soda fountains in the early 1900’s were, they were a place that made and showcased delicious syrups, where the community would gather for a casual lunch and a good drink. A soda jerk was like a bartender, who made cool drink combinations using homemade syrups combined with seltzer water and customized the drinks with other ingredients like ice cream, heavy cream, and malts.Our syrups are made in this same old fashioned method, from whole fruits, spices, and herbs, and we have a similar method with our drink making. You choose one of our syrups and add it to one of our bases- fresh lemon juice, seltzer, or classic sodas like Root Beer, Ginger Ale, or Coca Cola. Then you can add cream, whipped cream, ice cream, bitters, beer, cider, and even liquor to make milkshakes, floats, fresh lemonades, and cocktails.
You opened during a very tough period when many restaurants are struggling to survive. How has it been, opening a business during Covid?
“Opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic was the hardest thing I have done,” said Venise. “Everything took longer than expected and felt so much ha
rder, but we were already committed and we weren’t ready to give up on our dream before we had even begun. We have been floored with the show of support our fans and community have shown. They are rooting for us and that feels amazing. “
“Opening a restaurant is like eating an elephant, one bite at a time,” said Belinda. “Opening a restaurant during a global pandemic is like that elephant that just grew wings. You have to be twice as determined, creative, and patient in the process. And at times, it just seems silly to try at all. But if you keep going, you get to say that you did it. And you know that not much else you’ll ever do will be more difficult.”
With the latest To Go only at restaurants directive from Governor Inslee, our entire menu is available to go, including our cocktails and mocktails. We’re even pivoting yet again to add local delivery to our plans. And we will use our downtime when we close for winter on Dec 19- May to add outdoor seating to our large yard area, which needs a big renovation but will be a beautiful, scenic outdoor space to enjoy all summer long!
We enjoy your cocktail recipes. Do you have a new favorite for the winter?
We are loving a drink Belinda invented called Dog’ll Hunt, which is a very good example of her bartending style, where her goal is to tell a story in a glass. The drink was inspired by our dad and uncles who go bird hunting on the Palouse in Eastern Washington every Fall and the idea was to capture those flavors and create a real sense of place through the cocktail. It features Spokane’s Dry Fly wheat whiskey, cold-pressed apple cider from our farm, Juniper and Sage bitters from The Bitters Lab, our Apple Pie syrup (which is made from our farm’s cider apples and a mix of spices and sold out in 2 weeks!) and lemon juice. It’s a whiskey cocktail that lets you taste and enjoy the whiskey, but is approachable enough to still be a crowd favorite. We also love a Hot Toddy on these cold Fall days, and our house Toddy features our own Rhubarb Vanilla Syrup to play with the Heritage Distilling bourbon, and can be ordered to go to enjoy later, like all of our cocktails!
We’re working to promote more agritourism experiences in the region. Can visitors stop by your farm in Buckley for farm tours?
The Simple Goodness Soda Shop is the best way to capture the heart of our cocktail farm and sits just 5 miles down the road from the farm. Here, in addition to our farm to table Soda Fountain menu, we have a farm stand of sorts. We bring in whatever produce we have after creating our menu to sell, and we sell a variety of drink and dessert syrups that we make from our farm’s herbs, flowers, and fruits. Everything we sell online at www.simplegoodnesssisters.com is also available at the Soda Shop. Please join our email newsletter to stay informed of future farm events and related classes that we will host at the Soda Shop.
Do you have any official 2021 socially distanced classes or virtual events we can share?
We have a virtual class on Small Business Saturday that we’re really excited about (register here https://bit.ly/SGSCocktailClass.) We also had a wonderful line up of in-person socially distanced classes planned before December, unfortunately, the governor’s announcement of the shut down has made us cancel our planned classes. We hope to reevaluate this again once we’re able to. We plan to offer floral classes, garden to glass drink making classes, and more in our beautiful Soda Shop building, which is large enough to accommodate up to 30 in socially distanced groups. In the future, our beautiful backroom will also be available for event rental for groups and parties. For all classes and virtual class opportunities, folks should follow us @simplegoodnesssisters on Instagram and join our email newsletter.
You make seasonal limited batches of your shrubs and syrups. With the holidays right around the corner do you accept orders online and ship your products?
We ship nationwide, year-round, from our website! For Holiday 2020 we have great gifting options for foodies, drinkers, and gardeners. We will also launch the Farm Club in 2021, which will be a quarterly subscription to help support our farm and bring our farm to your glass! Each shipment will include limited edition, seasonal syrups, floral sugars and salts, and recipes to inspire your drink making. These small-batch items will be sold exclusively to Farm Club members, while our website’s shop and the Soda Shop store will always have available our flagship flavors and merch.
Visitors are welcome now through December 18th, 2020. The shop will close for the season from December 19-May 1, open only for special events during those months. In May 2021 the Simple Goodness Sisters will reopen with expanded outdoor seating options!