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The Double Cola headquarters in downtown Chattanooga is adding a subsidiary, Cheers Beverages, to sell beer and hard seltzers.

Correction: An earlier story incorrectly said the Good Grape Company, the predecessor to Double Cola, began in Huntsville, Alabama. Although Double Cola was bottled in Huntsville, it began in Chattanooga in 1922. This story was updated Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at 6:35 p.m.

Nearly a century after its founding as America's first major soft drink bottler of 12-ounce drinks, the Double Cola Co. is preparing to expand into the beer market with a new subsidiary business at its Chattanooga headquarters known as Cheers Beverages Inc.

Double Cola Chief Operating Officer Gina Dhanani said the new venture should begin introducing new craft beers, hard seltzers and spiked sodas, starting in Chattanooga, within the next month.

"Our company has always been intentional in meeting the tastes of discerning customers," she said. "Whether our customer is a heritage drinker picking up a Double Cola or a newer consumer looking for an energy boost, our company has been prepared to meet those needs."

The new business name will help distinguish the entry into beer sales, which requires different licensing and distribution in the eight states where Cheers Beverages will operate. Double Cola, which sells about half of its soft drinks outside of the United States, has been working on the new Cheers business for the past couple of years to follow customer demand for more and different drinks.

some text Gina Dhanani

The company began as the Good Grape Company in 1922 in Chattanooga and became the Double Cola Co. in 1933 when it introduced 12-ounce bottles, which were twice the size of other sodas sold at the time.

The company has amassed an offering of beverages that includes Double-Cola, SKI, Jumbo fruit flavors line, Chaser, Double Dry Ginger Ale, Quad Energy Drink, and Miñoku Coconut Water. The company sells its concentrate to about 75 bottlers and distributors across the United States and to many others around the globe.

One of the new beers to be introduced by Cheers Beverages will capitalize on the loyal followers of Double Cola's Ski brand with a craft beer known as "Brewski," Dhanani said.

The new company developed the new beer working with Naked Brewing Co. on Chattanooga's Southside for the first test badges and beer will be produced by a supplier in Florida.

"While our innovations prepare our companies for the future, the consistency from the beginning of our history remains intact," Dhanani said. "It is what guides us to provide the best possible options for all of our customers and we couldn't be more pleased about the potential for growth."

The company that began in 1922 by Charles Little and Joe Foster was sold in 1962 to Fairmont Foods Co., one of numerous ownership changes until KJ International purchased the company in 1980. In 1999, Double-Cola moved its headquarters from Broad Street to Market Street in downtown Chattanooga.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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