North Castle Gets Fresh with Fantasia –

Just two months since its last juicy deal, North Castle Partners is filling in the middle of its healthy beverage platform with the acquisition of Midwest-based Fantasia Fresh Juice Co. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fantasia, a Rosemont, Ill.-based company, produces natural fruit-based beverage products, such as juices and smoothies throughout the Midwest. “Fantasia is a strong, rapidly growing business that will greatly complement our operations on both coasts,” said Ellen Marram, a general partner at North Castle in a statement.

The company will continue to be managed by J. Bradley Barnhorn, the company’s chief executive officer, and Thomas L. Hicks, who will also join the senior management of North Castle’s beverage platform.

Barnhorn and his friend David Chung founded Fantasia in 1998 with the goal of finding a leading position in the Midwestern market. The two rallied Chicago-area investors behind them and two years later Fantasia is the leading fresh juice and premium smoothie brand in the Midwest.

Like the Ben & Jerry’s of juice, the Fantasia guys also took it upon themselves to spread the messages of several social issues, campaigning against the use of genetically modified foods and contributing to AIDS and cancer research.

Chung sold the majority of his stake in the company last year.

North Castle, a Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm with a focus on the healthy living and aging sectors, has been building its healthy beverage platform rigorously throughout this year with the acquisitions of M.H. Zeigler & Sons, Inc., a provider of refrigerated apple cider, Saratoga Beverage Group Inc., a provider of sparkling and non-carbonated water, and Orchid Island Juice Co., a provider of fresh fruit juice.

“We believe the fresh and refrigerated premium healthy beverage category will continue to experience rapid growth,” said Marram. “And the addition of Fantasia strengthens our national customer service capabilities.”