The 30-seater Fizz & Co. in the Agana Shopping Center is a cozy soda shop bursting with the sights, sounds and tastes of a 1950s diner.
Owner LeAnn Crisostomo opened Fizz & Co. just five years ago and has been operating at their current location for two years after moving from a shop half its current size on Route 4.
On this particular Monday afternoon, Crisostomo's shop was packed to the brim as local and visiting customers alike came to see vlogger Jen Brooks perform Broadway hits and even help wait tables, dressed in a wide-skirted blue dress. The exuberant actress could well have been a long-lost member of the Pink Ladies.
Around the corner from the shop's soda fountain, cooks flipped burgers and browned hot dog buns – buns at Fizz & Co. are browned, not steamed – on the large grill, the sound of sizzling meat humming along with Brooks' show tunes.
The food at Fizz & Co. is exactly what you'd hope for at a diner, though with a few island-style menu items added to the mix, including the Boonie Dawg ("just a plain, simple dawg") and Calamansi lemonade. And in a nod to the king of rock 'n' roll, Fizz & Co. also serves up a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Portions are plentiful, and serving up diner classics means every item hits the spot. But don't forget: This is, first and foremost, a soda fountain. And that's where Fizz & Co. really shines.
On milkshakes and making the soda pop
When the diner first opened its doors five years ago, Crisostomo asked each of her employees to come up with their own handcrafted soda.
"We decided we were gonna give everybody an opportunity to create either a milkshake (or) soda," she says. "For every soda jerk we had when we first opened ... it was up to them to put a concoction together and create it and also give it a name."
You'll find customer favorites like Tay's Specialty, a strawberry and coconut soda, as well as Aaron's Chaud Fizz, a punchy mix of cherry, lime, watermelon and coconut.
Handspun on vintage-style mixers, the milkshake menu is no less impressive. Crisostomo says the Oreo Surprise ("It's a SURPRISE!" is the only clue the menu gives) and Krystal's Kookie Kraze are their top sellers.
Despite her success, Crisostomo had no background in business or the restaurant industry before launching Fizz & Co., and she says it's been a major test.
"What's really driving me right now is that I'm committed and I'm dedicated to making this work," she says. Dressed in a white cardigan and cuffed blue jeans reminiscent of the jukebox era, Crisostomo was a blur as she rotated through the restaurant, working behind the counter and chatting with guests as they sipped Fizz & Co.'s handmade sodas and milkshakes.
Fount of inspiration
A mother of five daughters and former travel agent, Crisostomo says she knew for a long time that she wanted to own her own business. The question was, doing what?
"What inspired me was the soda fountain," she says. The shop's soda fountain is a refurbished original, flown straight from Chicago. "That was like nothing here on Guam, so I figured, why not give it a shot?"
The shop has become a true family affair, as two of Crisostomo's daughters help manage Fizz & Co. She says their family is always ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work when the need arises – which, as any restaurateur knows, is often.
Co-manager Taylor Crisostomo, who will graduate from the University of Guam with a degree in business administration this December, echoed her mom, saying her role can prove challenging, especially when you add family into the mix.
"Getting into business with your family is difficult; it's tough," she says. "But you know, it's all worth it in the end. ... We try to make it work and we try to make time for ourselves outside of this business."
"It's tough," she added, "but it's really fun."
Learning on the job
It's also been an important learning experience. During her time at Fizz & Co., Taylor has learned how to do payroll and train employees.
"I was able to see what the (school) book was talking about, and doing it at the same time," she says.
LeAnn and her daughters will be plenty busy even after Taylor is out of class.
She says she hopes to add shops in other areas of the island, giving customers from Yigo and Dededo easier access to their favorite sodas and milkshakes.
For now, she seems to be happy where she is.
As vlogger Brooks jumps from the counter to pull an unassuming passerby into the restaurant for a quick duet, customers work on their piles of french fries and overflowing shakes while LeAnn Crisostomo stops for a moment to take it all in, a huge smile on her face.