'A better product and we're proud of it': Indy soda company expands with bottled drinks

The Soda Guy Handcrafted Beverages come in 16 flavors.
The Soda Guy Handcrafted Beverages come in 16 flavors.

An Indy soda maker is ready to take on Coke and other players in the market.

Expect to see more of The Soda Guy Handcrafted Beverages at restaurants and stores, says owner and titular guy Jerry Rezny.

His company is producing drinks, made with all-natural sweeteners, from an Irvington shop.

Rezny started the company in 2014, creating syrups and installing dispensers for restaurants.

Other mass-produced sodas use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten their drinks. Studies that linked it to obesity, diabetes and other diseases inspired Rezny to explore making soda back in 2010.

“It was the taste that I missed and just the satisfaction in the sodas. But then what really moved me to do it was the studies,” he said.

This isn’t Rezny’s first experience with beverages.

Jerry Rezny got start in beer with two Wisconsin brewpubs

Rezny, 69, helped usher in the brewpub movement in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he had two restaurants. And he'd worked for Coca-Cola bottlers in the days before Coke changed its formula in 1985. Working as a food and beverage director at a hotel chain brought him to Indianapolis.

All but one of The Soda Guy’s beverages are sweetened with cane sugar. The diet cola flavor is made with Stevia, a plant-derived sweetener.

He’s been in his production facility, 5529 Bonna Ave., for about four years.

How many flavors does Indy's The Soda Guy make?

It has about 16 flavors from cola, which Rezny said was made to taste like the market-leading Coke before its 1980s reformulation, to cherry vanilla cream, butterscotch root beer, caramel apple and a take on Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.   A maple bacon flavor never took off.

The Soda Guy sometimes creates customer flavors for his 25 or so clients, including Divvy in Carmel, The Prewitt in Plainfield and Gomez BBQ in Indianapolis.

Rezny, who lives in Avon, began bottling sodas at the beginning of Covid when his soda fountain sales were down by about 85%.

He only recently ramped up production though — tripling output from last year to about 1,000 a week today.

That means more of the popular chocolate flavor that’s sold primarily in bottles will be available for customers, he said.

The Soda Guy expands to bottling for customers to take home

Most of the bottled sodas are going to restaurants that lack the space for dispensers, but he anticipates selling more directly to consumers, as well as to retailers.

“We're finally at our peak of efficiency. So, we are able to expand,” he said.

Rezny also is getting The Soda Guy’s name out there with a lower-profile product: private labeling for restaurants.

Still, with the expansion, he expects customers to request his products over Coke and Pepsi.

“For a small company to go up against the big guys, people would ordinarily say, ‘Well, that's not very smart,’’ he said. “Well, it is, because we've got a better product and we're proud of it.”

Where to get Indy Soda Guy beverages

Customers can order bottled from sodaguyllc.com for free delivery (with orders of at least $50), or for pick up at Ice House Coffee Roasters at 200 S. Ritter Ave.

Restaurants and shops that sell Soda Guy beverages include:

  • 10th Street Diner, Indianapolis

  • Broad Ripple Brewpub, Indianapolis

  • Chef JJ’s, Indianapolis

  • Divvy, Carmel

  • Edwards Drive-In Dashboard Diner food truck, Indianapolis

  • Happy Days Pancake House, Indianapolis

  • Gomez BBQ, Indianapolis

  • Icehouse Coffee, Indianapolis

  • Johnson’s BBQ Shack, Bargersville

  • Jordan’s, Beech Grove and Crawfordsville

  • King Dough, Indianapolis

  • Klooz Brewz, Lebanon

  • La Margarita, Indianapolis

  • Love Handle, Indianapolis

  • Maplewood Farms, Brownsville

  • Mayfair Taproom, Indianapolis

  • Oakley Brothers’ Distillery, Indianapolis

  • Oasis Diner, Plainfield

  • Porter Books & Bread, Indianapolis and Shelbyville

  • The Prewitt, Plainfield

  • Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza, Franklin

  • Three Carrots, Indianapolis

  • Woody’s Library Restaurant, Carmel

Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at cheryl.jackson@indystar.com or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter:@cherylvjackson.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis soda company expands with bottled drinks