Jack Perkins, co-owner of Dallas burger institution Maple & Motor, appreciates that a swig of Dublin Dr Pepper is just the thing to wash down a delicious burger. Once every few weeks since he opened his Maple Avenue burger shack, someone from his restaurant has made the two-hour drive to Dublin, Texas to pick up boxes of Dublin Dr Pepper syrup for the restaurant's soda fountain. But after yesterday's announcement that the plant will no longer make the soda, a trip to Dublin for Dr Pepper would be futile.
"We were caught off guard," Perkins said yesterday, not long after the news broke. He had about an eight-day supply remaining, but "we know there's gonna be a push." When we called to see what he thought of the news that the Dublin plant will stop making many of his customers' beverage of choice, he asked that we call back in a few minutes so he could first figure out a plan.
"We're gonna give it a proper send-off," he said a short time later. The restaurant is reserving what is a normal one-week supply for Monday, "so we can properly say goodbye." They're still serving the beverage today, but will stop the tap sometime this weekend to save supplies for next week's proper mourning period. It will be the same price as always: $1.65 per plastic glass.
After that, Perkins said, "We'll go the extra mile to make sure we have cane sugar Dr Pepper." He'll begin stocking the beverage bottled in Temple, Texas that the Dr Pepper Snapple Group says is the same formula as the Dublin version.
The question is whether Perkins' customers will notice the difference. Tony Font, co-owner of the Soda Gallery in the Bishop Arts District, said yesterday that some of his customers think they can. "You have your Dr Pepper purists that you say, 'that's the same formula,' and they say, 'it doesn't taste the same," he said.
Font also used to drive to Dublin every few weeks with cases of vintage 10oz Dublin Dr Pepper bottles from the '70s in tow. At the plant, the bottles were sanitized and refilled. Customers would drink from the bottles in-store as though at a bar, finishing the beverage then returning the bottle to be used again.
"As in most lawsuits, the customer doesn't win," Font said. "I think that's ludicrous because Dublin Dr Pepper has been there for so long."
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Once Dr Pepper Snapple Group filed a lawsuit against the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company in June, Font worried that he could somehow get caught in the legal cross-hairs, and he stopped traveling to Dublin for refills. When the lawsuit was first filed, he saw a spike in sales, then he ran out of his supply and the bottles have remained empty ever since.
"I think it's sad. There are two truly Texas drinks and that's Dr Pepper and Big Red," Font said.
Then the Soda Gallery phone rang; Font answered and responded, "Not any more. We're sold out."
Since he stopped supplying the Dublin version, he said, customers buy the cane sugar Dr Pepper bottled in Temple. "They do by the regular one," Font said, "but grudgingly so."