The Larry H. Miller Company purchased the company, which will have 46 locations by the end of the year.
Next year, if you’re road tripping across the country, you might not have to worry about missing your dirty soda fix in Utah.
Last week, Utah-based Larry H. Miller announced that it had acquired a majority stake in beverage chain Swig – also based in Utah – from private equity firm Savory Fund, as well than Swig’s founder, Nicole Tanner, and her partners. Chase Wardrop and Dylan Roeder, all of whom will retain minority stakes.
“I am proud to invest in Swig, a woman-founded company whose approach to community building aligns with ours,” said Gail Miller, owner of LHM, in a press release. “Nicole and the team are invested in their leaders and employees, and their values are strongly reflected in their day-to-day operations.”
Tanner told The Tribune that she thinks what caught the company’s attention was that “we have something great to do. We have an amazing brand. … They don’t want to come and reinvent the wheel or change it. They want to come and just add support and love and make it even better.
Swig is one of the leaders of Utah’s dirty soda craze, in which carbonated drinks are fortified with additional flavorings, including syrups, fruit or cream.
Tanner said she will continue in her current role of visiting stores to make sure the Swig culture feels good and cohesive. She will also continue to be the spokesperson for Swig’s nonprofit, Save the Cups, which helps women with breast cancer pay their medical bills. (Tanner herself is a breast cancer survivor.)
Along with the purchase announcement, LHM Company also announced that it would begin offering “a Swig experience” at LHM-owned Megaplex theaters in 2023 – with theaters and Swig locations selling refills of each other’s refillable containers for a limited time. Megaplex has 14 locations in Utah, from Logan to St. George, and one in Mesquite, Nevada.
Savory Fund, which bought Swig in 2018, focused on expansion, doubling the company’s footprint. By the end of the year, Swig will have 46 locations nationwide, with another 25 in the pipeline for 2023.
Over the past year, Tanner said, Swig has expanded into Oklahoma City, where it now has three stores open and two more coming online before the end of the year. Swig also has three stores in the Dallas area, another will open in early December and more will open across Texas next year. Previously, the company opened stores in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the Phoenix area.
“All of these stores have landed well and are already ahead of the pack,” Tanner said. Even though dirty soda has its roots in Utah, she says, “it’s not just a Utah thing. People love their drinks all over the United States. … We have stores coming to Las Vegas, Kansas, Missouri. We have already started the franchise road. So we think it will go across the country.
Shauna Smith, CEO of Savory, said, “We were already on a pretty strong growth trajectory.” Along with the 25 new stores in the works for 2023, she said Swig will likely start franchising the brand. “What that means for our customers is that there will be more and more appearances, not just the 25, but this time it will be two, three, four here next year.”
Tanner said Swig stores will start offering savorier menu items, like its pretzel bites, as well as variations on its candy. He recently launched mini cookies that come in a mug, so they’re easier to eat in the car. She said the company is also looking to add merchandise, such as t-shirts, hoodies, tumblers, keychains and even air fresheners.
“We’re trying to diversify a bit and simplify at the same time,” Tanner said. “So we have a few savory dishes and, of course, this classic pink sugar cookie.”
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