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posted: 6/7/2017 1:00 AM

Craft soda company pouring an iconic brand

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  • Bill Daker has been operating Cool Mountain Beverages for 20 years in Des Plaines.

    Bill Daker has been operating Cool Mountain Beverages for 20 years in Des Plaines.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Bill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages in Des Plaines.

    Bill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages in Des Plaines.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Bill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages, Des Plaines.

    Bill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages, Des Plaines.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comBill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages, Des Plaines.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comBill Daker of Cool Mountain Beverages, Des Plaines.

  • Elmhurst-based J.C. Anderson Inc. said the firm has been selected to complete a 30,000 square foot build-out to DePaul University's Richardson Library on the Lincoln Park campus.

    Elmhurst-based J.C. Anderson Inc. said the firm has been selected to complete a 30,000 square foot build-out to DePaul University's Richardson Library on the Lincoln Park campus.

 
 

Bill Daker has childhood memories of the corner grocery store stocking shelves with colorful glass soda bottles filled with sweet drinks in an array of flavors.

For the past two decades, he has helped others experience the taste of craft sodas in old-fashioned glass bottles. Daker is celebrating 20 years operating Cool Mountain Beverages in Des Plaines. Popular flavors include green apple, orange cream and black cherry -- all made with pure cane sugar and lightly carbonated, he said.

Cool Mountain is sold throughout the U.S., in Canada, Panama, Costa Rica and the U.K., selling particularly well in the Southeast and West Coast. Daker, 50, said they franchise with Dr Pepper and Real Soda to produce, bottle and distribute the craft soda.

He said he has survived a "highly competitive, often cut throat industry, fraught with untold hurdles in production, distribution, sales and business, where brands come and go, change ownership or often never make it out of the box of their own neighborhood."

The entrepreneur, who also operates M2Easy general contracting firm, has altered his business plan as the beverage market changed.

A year ago, he launched a new division to focus on Chicago and the suburbs. Chicago Draft Style has grown from a keg only root beer product, made for universities and special events, to six flavors delivered in bottles and fountain service and can now be found in retail outlets, restaurants, hotels and wholesalers.

"We're building an iconic brand," Daker said. Ginger beer, cream soda, orange cream and Chicago Draft Style ginger ale are part of the lineup that focuses on the hospitality industry.

Norman Distribution has been added to represent the brand that is now in several retail outlets including Pete's Grocers and Armannati's Liquor.

And when Daker is not busy running his businesses, he says he's a musician and plays guitar. "I like to write, play and record," he said.

Stepping down

After almost four decades of running the tasting room at Lynfred Winery in Roselle, Diane Koehler-Rasmussen is stepping down as tasting room manager a the winery she helped open and run with her late father, Fred Koehler.

In her retirement, she has accepted the title of vice president to the winery, as well as goodwill ambassador.

Her career in wine began in 1977 when she began helping her father and his late wife, Lynn, with the process of opening 'a little winery' in downtown Roselle; a feat many considered "crazy."

After the winery doors opened in 1979, Diane and her stepmother Lynn were the ones primarily running the winery as her father, Fred, continued his full-time job as general manager of Itasca Country Club. There was no job too big or small that she didn't take on, whether it was helping make the wines, crush grapes, welcome guests or give tours. And when Lynn passed away in 1984, much of the running of the winery was left to Diane.

Study project

Elmhurst-based J.C. Anderson Inc. said the firm has been selected to complete a 30,000 square foot build-out to DePaul University's Richardson Library on the Lincoln Park campus.

J.C. Anderson will complete a 30,000 square foot build-out to the Richardson Library located at 2350 N. Kenmore Ave. in Chicago. The University will renovate the 2nd floor of the library to replace finishes, provide a green room, studios, offices, media creation studios and conference rooms. The renovation is scheduled for completion in August.

The construction team for J.C. Anderson is led by Project Executive Joe Maguire and Project Manager Larry Regovic. Vasilko Architects & Associates Inc. is providing the architectural services.

Ice Miller adds another office

Ice Miller law firm with offices in Lisle recently opened a new office in Philadelphia. This is the company's eighth office.

Frederick Tecce joins the firm as the Philadelphia office managing partner and will lead the Intellectual Property Practice in that office. He combines his trial experience as a former assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division with his engineering background in representing clients in hundreds of cases involving trade secret, patent and other IP matters.

Lemony spice blend

The Zen of Slow Cooking, based in Lake Forest, said its Sichuan spice blend has won the Sofi New Product Award in the seasoning/spice category in the Specialty Food Association's 2017 Sofi Awards competition.

A Sofi is the top honor in the $127 billion specialty food industry. "Sofi" stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association.

The fragrant, lemony spice blend was one of 154 winners selected by a national panel of 62 specialty food experts from 3,000 entries across 39 categories.

"As entrepreneurs we are always looking for ways to know that our product is loved. This is one of the ultimate stamps of approval and we're very grateful," said Meg Barnhart, co-owner of the Zen of Slow Cooking.

Zen's spice blends are found at Peapod Online, Amazon, thezenofslowcooking.com and select Whole Food and Sunset Foods stores in the area.