Introducing Northwoods Soda

a photo of Deli managing partner Rick Strutz and Deli staffer Scott Geisler standing on either side of the soda fountain with the Northwoods logo and tap stickers

And What Makes It Soda-rn Good

The Soda-lightful Origins of Northwoods

Prior to starting Northwoods Soda & Syrup Co., founder Bill Fosdick owned a soda syrup delivery route in the Kalamazoo area. The hours spent on the road gave him time to dream about starting his own syrup business in Northern Michigan. In 1988, with about 3 months of living expenses saved, he moved his family to the Grand Traverse area to make that vision a reality. 

a Northwoods soda truck in front of the Deli

Bill found a property with a basement large enough to accommodate a syrup room and got to work—experimenting with extracts, cane sugar, and fresh, clean water to create his very own syrup flavors. (We’re known for sourcing top-notch ingredients, so you know we appreciate that Northwoods Soda is equally obsessed with what goes into their products!)

Once he’d perfected a handful of classic soda flavors, Bill started knocking on the doors of local businesses with soda fountains. His fledgling business was only four months old when he landed his first account. It was validation that he’d created something customers wanted: a competitively priced, superior product made with high-quality ingredients by a local, family-owned business. 

When my father moved his family north 30 years ago and put it all on the line to start a soda pop company, our Root Beer was the flagship. One sip and you’ll understand why. —David Fosdick, Northwoods Soda Head Soda Jerk (aka Director of Operations)

After just one year, Bill needed space to expand production, so he moved his family to a new home with room for him to grow his business. Over the past 35 years, Northwoods has expanded their offerings to include draft sodas, juices, bar mixes, bottled pop, and more, while remaining family-owned and rooted in the local community. Today, their production facility—in Williamsburg, just outside Traverse City—creates enough syrups and sodas to supply over 500 stores and restaurants. (Most of those are in Northern Michigan, so we’re very excited to be able to help introduce Northwoods Sodas to new fans downstate.)

a photo of a reuben and a cup of Northwoods sodaFlavors that Will Fill Your Cup

We’re not taking sides in the pop vs. soda debate, but one thing we think all of our guests will agree on is that a beverage from Northwoods Soda makes the perfect partner for one of our sandwiches. 

They’ve maintained the quality of their products over the years in part by sticking with the extract suppliers they originally started working from. That’s no easy feat, since a number of them have been bought, sold, and merged with various other companies, but the work required to manage a complex web of suppliers is core to Northwoods’ mission and commitment to excellence. 

And, much like our drive for continuous improvement, Northwoods Soda has an entrepreneurial culture that encourages constant tinkering with recipes. This commitment to delighting customers with new palate-pleasing flavors regularly results in new offerings, like the two unsweetened soda water flavors we have here at the Deli. (Shhh: It’s a secret, but we have a couple of ideas for an upcoming exclusive Zingerman’s flavor of Northwoods Soda… stay tuned!). 

We have their superior beverages at the Deli and our Next Door Cafe—the only 2 soda fountains dispensing Northwoods Soda downstate! The full lineup of 11 flavor options includes Cola, Diet Cola, Root Beer, Vanilla Cream Soda, Black Cherry Cream Soda, Ginger Ale, Blue Raspberry, Grapefruit, Sparkling Pomegranate Lemonade, The Dance: Blueberry Acai Soda Water, and The Kiss: Rhubarb Lavender Soda Water.

We think you’ll agree that you really can taste the difference. Come try them for yourself!