Ozark Mountain Bottleworks' Tina King
Tina King, part-owner of Ozark Mountain Bottleworks, shares with us some yummy ideas behind the soda that could become the Ozarks’ signature drink.
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The idea for Ozark Mountain Bottleworks started when Tina King and her family were on vacation. Tina concocted a lemonade-punch as an experiment, and her husband, Chris, joked, “We should bottle this.” The whole ride home, Tina and Chris talked about doing just that. Bored with their previous ventures, the Kings wanted to branch out and start a fun business that meant something to them.
In 2009, Chris, Tina and Tina’s mother, Deborah Walters, formed Ozark Mountain Bottleworks, a soda company based in Branson. Their first flavor was Ozark Mountain Lemonade, a sparkling pink beverage. Since then they have come out with three other classic flavors: Orange Cream, Grape Pop and Red Cream. Now, Ozark Mountain Bottleworks soda is sold at 23 locations, and Tina says she hopes to expand this summer. Also on the horizon is a new classically appealling flavor: rootbeer.
Web Exclusive Q&A
Q: Are you planning on making any other flavors in the future?
A: “Yeah. We are trying to decide whether to come up with a rootbeer or a sarsaparilla. We are also looking at strawberry, cherry, key lime, lemon-lime, nothing crazy. The root beer/sarsaparilla is in the works.”
Q: How long does it take to perfect a finished product and start selling it?
A: “The lemonade was hard. The calorie count was so high on what we made that we had to scale it back. It was around 600 calories. But we ended up getting it down to 120 calories. I ended up having to go to Louisville, they said come here and sit with us, and we’ll get it done the right way. The grape took a long time too.”
Q: I noticed a lot of stores that sell your soda are in Branson and St. Louis, are you thinking about expanding?
A: “Yes. We are expanding this summer. Our run will be five times what it was last summer. I plan on hitting up some more stores around Springfield. I would like to expand to Oklahoma. There are some Illinois stores. I’ve had some inquiries from New York state, but I’m still trying to figure out the logistics on that one.”
Q: Are you interested in becoming as big, as say, Jones Soda?
A: “I don’t want to be a conglomerate. I just want to do something that will give identity to the area. I want people to say, ‘Oh that’s where Ozark Mountain Bottleworks is.’ We don’t want to be the next big fish in the sea; we want to stay here with our customers.”
Q: How did you get into this business?
A: “I guess it started with a trip to Disney. We drove down, it was an off-the-wall, fluke trip we decided to surprise our kids with. We were talking about how much we liked the Branson-southwest Missouri area. We got down to Disney world and we got these cups and Chris said, ‘Go make your punch,’ and I make this lemonade-punch that’s kind of different. There was this soda bar and I’m sitting there making my punch and he just said, ‘We have to bottle this.’ And the entire way home, for 18 hours, we talked about bottling that punch, which originally started as a wine spritzer.
Q: Do you have past experience distributing food or beverages?
A: No this is our first time. We’ve come up with our own systems, and we’ve based our company off some of the big successes such as Jones Soda and Anheuser-Busch. We looked at where they’ve been, what they’ve gone through, down to what kind of bottle they use.
Q: Why soda?
A: “I don’t know. It was an off-the-wall thing. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve always been in the kitchen cooking, and I actually thought that I would go into business with pecans or something. But it was soda.”
Q: What got you started coming down to the Branson area?
A: ”Just coming down with my parents. We’ve been going to Rock Lane since I was in diapers. I can remember jumping off the balcony and heading to the pool. Now I sell my soda there, and I keep my boats there, and I’m friends with the people that own it. It’s just a great connection.”