SM PIER — The Santa Monica Pier is getting an added dose of old-fashioned charm this summer with the planned opening of Soda Jerks, a soda fountain and ice cream parlor that harkens back to a time when you could order a “black and white” — soda fountain-speak for a chocolate soda with a scoop of vanilla — without drawing confused stares.
Brothers Kevin and Ryan McCafferty, third-generation retro soda vendors who operated a soda fountain and restaurant in Pasadena until 2005, have high hopes for their latest venture, which is under construction inside the Carousel Building at the base of the pier and could open by the Fourth of July.
Kevin McCafferty said the location next to the historic 1922 carousel provides an ideal atmosphere for a business that seeks to capture the aura of the past.
“Personally, I don’t think you can have a better pairing,” he said. “It’ll be the coolest place to get a scoop of ice cream in L.A.”
Soda Jerks will feature a refurbished 1950’s soda fountain sent from Chicago and will serve hand mixed sodas and premium ice cream from Fosselman’s creamery in Alhambra.
The opening of the Jerk has been a long-term goal for pier officials and others at City Hall, with the idea of bringing an old-fashioned soda fountain bandied about for at least the past five years.
“It’s going to be just a wonderful synergy with the carousel operation,” said Pier Restoration Corp. Executive Director Ben Franz-Knight.
“They’re outstanding operators,” he said of the McCaffertys. “They have just an incredible love of the historic context of sodas.”
The PRC is also expecting to welcome a new family-style Italian eatery to the pier. Franz-Knight said the restaurant group behind Trastevere on the Third Street Promenade plans to open a restaurant called Al Mare in a building just west of the carousel that has been vacant since 2002, when the Arcadia nightclub closed down.
“We’re just tremendously excited to see that space finally activated,” Franz-Knight said.
The Landmarks Commission is expected to consider plans for the new restaurant in June.