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Award-winning D.O.C. Wine Bar to celebrate anniversary

LOMBARD – It's a cold November day as the inevitable chill grips early bird holiday shoppers in the Yorktown Shopping Mall parking lot.

At the corner of the mall, though, there exists an escape that has provided relaxation and comfort to wine and food lovers for the past six years in the form of D.O.C. Wine Bar.

"We wanted to make a comfortable restaurant that had a swanky, lounge wine bar feel to it where it's comfortable and cozy," said Managing Partner Tony Burger. "On cold days it's nice to come in and open a bottle of wine."

Burger opened D.O.C. in 2007 in Lombard, unfortunately, right around when the economy dropped. The La Grange resident said it was "challenging to say the least" when they started.

"Being in a land where it's all corporate it was challenging, but fun at the same time to create our niche and create a following and survive during that time," Burger said. "We have and we've flourished ever since."

Wine hasn't always been the nectar running through Burger's veins, but business has. In fact growing up in Kentucky, his family owned a gourmet grocery store for 55 years.

"When I was living in Kentucky I didn't really know anything about wine," he said. "It was bourbon, horses and tobacco, but wine wasn't necessarily my thing. When I came here it kind of was pushed to me and I got saturated in it."

After moving to Illinois 13 years ago, Burger traveled to about 10 different countries from 2000 to 2005 to go on wine tours and see the production first hand. Burger said the experience opened up his eyes to the beauty of wine.

"It's a beverage that's supposed to taste good, but it gives you the opportunity to learn about so many different forms via geography, geology, agriculture, history, law; all of that goes into one glass," he said. "And it puts a smile on peoples' faces."

Wine may have entered Burger's life later than expected, but Kitchen Manager Steve Goellner grew up around cooking in the kitchen as his father sold restaurant equipment. For the past 15 years, Goellner has been a chef in some capacity.

"As a little kid I always aspired to be a chef in a restaurant," said the Lombard native, who has been kitchen manager at D.O.C. for the past three years.

Goellner said he came to D.O.C. because he likes the culture associated with wine, pairing different wines with different foods and taking care of guests, who he said always come first in his eyes. Outside of the restaurant, wine is also a big hobby of his.

"I have a pretty large cellar in my house and in fact I just got back from Napa," Goellner said. "I don't think I would've come here to work unless I kind of liked wine."

To mark its sixth anniversary, D.O.C. will offer guests $6 glasses of wine, $6 appetizers and free celebratory cupcakes from open to close Nov. 13.

Adding on to its list of accomplishments, D.O.C. also made the 2013 Open Table Top 100 List for best wine lists in the United States. The Lombard wine and eatery is one of only two restaurants in Illinois to receive the recognition.

"We received the honor last year as well and we were the only one to retain that from last year," Burger said. "None of the other restaurants that were chosen last year were chosen again this year with the exception of us, so it's nice. It's quite a reward for us being in Lombard to be in the same category."

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