Pepsi is moving into the restaurant business.
The soda giant is opening a “restaurant-bar-event space” called Kola House in New York City, reports the New York Times. The location is intended to serve as a social hub and test market for new products, offering customers the premium soda experience.
The new location, which is still under construction, seems to be intended to add a feeling of authenticity to the brand. Recently, soda sales have been slipping, as Americans increasingly distrust sugary beverages and the companies that sell them.
A number of major brands have recently launched trendy and unexpected brick-and-mortar locations, with the New York Times namedropping Chobani’s flagship cafe and Nike’s showroom and fitness studio. However, the most apt comparison may be Starbucks.
The coffee chain opened its first Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle in late 2014, as a means of showcasing the company’s more gourmet coffee offerings. While the Roastery isn’t a major sales driver, it publicly signals the company’s dedication to authenticity and keeping coffee snob-approved offerings on the menu.
As Americans grow more suspicious of Big Soda, Pepsi is trying to similarly signal this authenticity.
The company has recently launched or announced plans to launch a number of vintage-inspired sodas, including Caleb’s Kola, 1893, and Dewshine. A restaurant and bar that isn’t covered in Pepsi logos, but instead serves cocktails mixed by an in-house “alchemist” is the company’s next step in attempting to convince customers that the brand is both trustworthy and relevant in 2016.
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