Pepsi offers more incentives and rebates to the restaurant owners than Coke, said the manager of the Pit Stop.
  • Pepsi offers more incentives and rebates to the restaurant owners than Coke, said the manager of the Pit Stop.
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“Is Pepsi okay?” are not the words serious Coca-Cola drinkers want to hear in restaurants. So when a Coke-themed diner switched to Pepsi, customers like Oceanside resident Cheri Noel were “not happy.”

Last week Noel went into one of her favorite places to eat: the popular Pit Stop Diner at the corner of Mission Road and El Camino Real. The diner’s walls are covered with road signs, license plates, and hubcaps. A restored 1962 Chrysler Imperial sits in the middle of the restaurant, and a whole wall is dedicated to Coca-Cola signage, right above the — now — two Pepsi machines.

“I paid for my meal, turned to get my drink, and exclaimed, ‘What happened?!’ when I saw the Pepsi machines,” said Noel. “I was immediately asked if I wanted my money back, as if they have been having to offer that a lot.”

Noel, who has a whole room in her home dedicated to Coke memorabilia (she also owns stock in Coca-Cola), refuses to drink Pepsi. 

Steve Amster, owner of Garden State Bagels in Carlsbad and Encinitas, says Noel isn't the only one.

“In 30 years in business, no one has ever walked in and asked for a glass of Pepsi. No one!” Amster replied when asked why he sells Coke instead of Pepsi.

Oceanside’s 101 Bagels owner Rocky Rabadia says Pepsi gave him more options when he opened his store last year. He needed a machine set up within two weeks and Coke couldn’t accommodate him. “In hindsight, I wish I had gone with Coke because it’s more well-known,” he said.

However a manager of Carlsbad’s Miguel’s Cocina restaurant sang the praises of Pepsi: “When we need service, they are here within two hours,” he said. The reason his company’s 18-chain restaurants all serve Pepsi products, “Coke may not come until the next day.”

The Pit Stop’s manager, Sotirios, says the eight-year-old restaurant recently changed hands. The reason for the switch to Pepsi: “The new owners tried to get Coke to add icemakers to their machines and they wouldn’t,” said Sotirios. He also indicated Pepsi offers more incentives and rebates to the restaurant owners than Coke.

He said he has had several customers complain. “I would prefer we had Coke,” said Sotirios. “But people have to decide what makes them happy.”

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Ponzi April 8, 2016 @ 2:13 p.m.

Costco did this a few years ago. They switched out Coke for Pepsi in their food courts at over 400 locations. They still sell a hot dog and soda for $1.50.

Fun fact: Costco dishes out more than 100 million hot dogs at its food courts, which is more than four times what Major League Baseball sold at its ballparks in 2011, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council.


aardvark April 8, 2016 @ 3 p.m.

And I doubt the hot dogs sold at ballparks were as good, or as big.


Visduh April 8, 2016 @ 5:26 p.m.

Costco claims, at least, to look for the best deal possible. They also claim that all the benefit of that deal flow to the members, aka fools who buy nearly everything there. Stockholders? Costco has them, but if you were to believe the Costco line, you would think that members come first. That's really amusing.


Ponzi April 9, 2016 @ 7:30 p.m.

If you study Costco's financial statement, the profit is close to the revenue from membership fees. Their money is made selling memberships, and a little more is made selling goods.


Javajoe25 April 8, 2016 @ 10:44 p.m.

Yea, but the best is Costco's Berry Sundae for $1.65...or, if you're feeling yogi, the Chocolate Vanilla Yogurt Swirl, only $1.35. Almost good enough to make me want to join the club.


Scott Marks April 9, 2016 @ 6:38 a.m.

The only theatre chain that I can recall selling Pepsi over Coke is the long defunct General Cinema Corp. When last I checked, Balboa Park is a CFZ (Coke Free Zone). Best Coke is found at McDonald's. They tend to be more syrup-friendly. I know a lot of people who swear by Mexican Coke. I suggest your read the expiration date on bottles. Your colon will thank me. They tend to be past due when they hit this side of the border. And finally, the only time you can buy Coke made with sugar is during the Passover season. Look for the "Kosher L'Pesach" 2 liters, coming soon to a store near you.


AlexClarke April 9, 2016 @ 7:11 a.m.

There is no answer to this issues unless both Coke and Pepsi is offered. Those who like Coke will not switch same with Pepsi. I doubt that service is really the issue but cost. Sounds like Pit Stop Diner was looking to save a buck not catering to their customers. If their business suffers then they will switch back to Coke.


Ponzi April 9, 2016 @ 7:45 p.m.

Coke outsell Pepsi 5-1 in most markets. Mexico consumes the most Coke per capita. But in Finland the Angry Bird's line of soft-drinks are the top sellers, outselling Coke and Pepsi.


Visduh April 10, 2016 @ 5:56 p.m.

In a blind taste test, could any more than about 10% of the participants tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, or between either of those and Royal Crown, or a private-brand cola drink? A long time ago, certain market-research folks performed such taste tests involving both soft drinks and beers and determined that suggestion had far more to do with such preferences than actuality.

If that is still true, it's the marketing and not the product that determine the desire. I have a family member who steadfastly prefers Diet Pepsi to all other soft drinks, despite the fact that it has changed its sweetener from aspartame to ??? recently. Marketing or actual desire? Darned if I know.


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