How Much Does It Cost to Run a Soda Fountain?

The early ninetieth century welcomed soda fountains in full swing as people of all ages gathered in these enterprises to gratify their thirst. These chic businesses offered their customers ice cream, soda water (carbonated), and remedies for medical purposes. However, these stations competed with bars within societies for a long time as some adults considered them childish. Read further to know does how much it cost to run a soda fountain?

This narrative changed, however, when the Prohibition mandate was implemented in America. Soda fountains became the “it” place as individuals from all ages began converging for drinks and conversation. As a result, these establishments became very popular over the decades after the Prohibition period. Currently, these machines can be spotted in social spaces.


You can lease a Coca-Cola Freestyle for $320 each month or purchase a digital container like the MooBella Machine (ice creamery) for $20,000. It is vital to note that these are digital machines and cost more than average soda fountains. The cost of a standard soda machine ranges from $1600 to $3600. A quality machine stands at the price of $3600. Once you buy the soda machine, it is installed, stocked, and serviced at zero cost. Running a soda fountain is relatively cheap, considering that you will need seventy-nine cents to $1.29 for a sixteen-ounce of soda. You will need a small amount of money for labor, water, and electricity.

What are soda fountains?

You have probably walked into a restaurant or convenience store or even a concession stand and ordered/dispensed a carbonated soda drink during a heatwave or a long day at work. But, have you ever stopped to wonder where they come from and how much it cost to run soda fountain?

A soda fountain combines syrup that is either flavored or concentrated that is carbonated with cool purified water. The result is what we have come to know as soft drinks. One can make this beverage using a vending machine (automated soda machine) or manually. Using a vending machine will require a soda gun. In these modern times, the syrup used in concocting these soda drinks is retrieved from BIB’s (bag-in-box). Thus, one can access their favorite soft drinks brand from soda fountains as long as the brand is produced as a post-mix syrup.

History of soda fountains

We identify soda fountains as devices that produce fizzy drinks that quench our thirst in this modern era. This was not always the case. As mentioned earlier, soda fountains were popular areas for social convergence. They were majorly established inside businesses like drugstores. During this era, customers were serves using soda jerks that produced ice cream and carbonated drinks. Since technology had not yet been quite developed, the syrup was added by hand to unflavored effervescent water. 

Bubbling mineral waters inspired the whole concept of a soda fountain from beneath the Earth. Civilizations during this era believed that when they bathed or consumed this water, they were receiving healing. Although the soda fountain was first introduced in Europe, the concept garnered popularity in America. A Yale professor who had specialized in chemistry was one of the first individuals to materialize the soda fountain idea in the US. During the early eighteenth century, Silliman bought a North device and started a mineral water business in Connecticut. Due to the belief that mineral water could cure various illnesses, Silliman made huge sales in his business in New Haven.

Before long, he had to build a larger apparatus to expand his enterprise. This process attracted partnerships that would establish soda fountains in Baltimore and New York. As a result, Silliman played a significant role in popularizing soda water. Finally, in 1832, Americans began manufacturing soda fountains. This started with John Matthews and John Lippincott of Philadelphia. 

The decline of vintage soda fountains

Soda fountains peaked in the ninetieth century, namely the 1940s and 1950s. This, however, did not last. In 1970, the popularity of soda fountains began to decline. This is majorly attributed to the introduction of the self-service concept in Walgreens. Since most soda fountains were set up in drug stores, this new concept led to the decline of soda fountains. 

Other factors contributing to the decline of soda fountains are; car culture, an increase of suburb dwellings, drive-ins, and ice-cream outlets by the road. In addition, retail stores in North America introduced vending machines where customers could serve themselves soda. 

To match modern times, restaurants have automated soda fountains where customers can serve themselves what they like. But, unfortunately, it is hard to locate a traditional soda fountain.

Can you profit from a soda fountain?

Soda fountains are profitable investments provided that owners can develop ways to increase sales and gain a competitive edge over their competitors. This can be done by adopting a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine which offers an array of different drinks. This will attract customers as they will want to try new flavors each time they visit your enterprise. As a bonus, these advanced devices can be controlled with a simple tap on your screen. Another digital apparatus is the MooBella machine can generate a variety of ninety-six cool treats in under forty seconds. With these many flavors, you are bound to attract a wide palette of ice cream enthusiasts. 

As mentioned earlier, purchasing a 16-ounce soda will cost either 79 cents or $1.29. This will depend on the business’ needs. If the seller decides to sell one cup for $1.50, they can accrue an average of $190. This translates to a profit margin of 60 percent. 


Although the exact figures are yet to be made apparent, cost to run a soda fountain is quite affordable for most restaurants. The returns will cater to the costs incurred, leaving the owner with a sizeable profit. Soda fountains are no longer labor-intensive, so owners do not have to spend a lot of money on paying employees. Digital devices can yield significant profits for enterprises. We hope that the soda fountain culture can be maintained.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

  1. How much soda can you expect from a five-gallon of BIB syrup?

One can get about thirty gallons of soda. 

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Soda Fountain?

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