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Saturday, December 03, 2022

Firehouse Subs’ Coke machine gives wealth of options

Choosing a drink to complement your lunch just got a lot harder at Firehouse Subs.

The chain installed the Coca-Cola Freestyle in both Gainesville locations Tuesday.

The drink machine features more than 100 flavors of Coke products, including sodas, flavored waters, sports drinks and lemonades. It also has a large selection of low-calorie and no-calorie drinks, as well as flavors that have never been marketed in the United States.

The dispenser mixes concentrated ingredients with water and sweetener inside the machine. Customers use a touch screen to choose the beverage flavor they would like dispensed into their cups.

Each push of a button on the screen releases a splash of liquid, allowing for customers to mix whatever flavors they like.

Firehouse Subs is the first to bring the machines to Gainesville, said Cecily Sorensen, director of communications for the restaurant chain. 

She said the chain was a part of the first beta test with Coca-Cola Co., beginning in Atlanta in September 2009.

Before the test, 68 percent of customers bought a drink with their meals, while 75 percent bought one after it, Sorensen said.

Clark Coleman, manager of the Firehouse Subs on West University Avenue, said he hopes the machines will be even more successful in Gainesville than in Atlanta.

“In a college town, students are tech savvy, and this machine is pretty much like a giant iPad,” Coleman said.

He said the restaurant has a lease for the machines for one year. During that time, the success of the machine will be monitored to see if the lease will be renewed.

The machines are equipped with a feature that sends data to Coca-Cola Co. about which drinks are popular among customers.

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 He said they already have begun experimenting with mixing flavors, and a popular choice has been to blend vanilla Coke and orange Fanta.

Marissa Mullins, a UF junior, decided to stop by Firehouse on Tuesday to eat lunch. She said she typically sticks with original Coke when she has to choose a flavor of soda.

This time, Mullins went with peach Fanta.

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