About 10 years ago when I first ate at the Steak n
Shake on Sycamore Road, I was served by a man whose name tag
read Johnny B. Ice. I asked if he also was a rapper with a name
like that, and our friendship has continued to this day.
He is not a rapper, but has quite a story of success in
business. Johnny left his native Chicago for his first job with
Steak n Shake about 15 years ago when a friend in Coralville,
Iowa, told him there was a job for him if he wanted it. Later,
he moved to DeKalb when an opening occurred here, arriving about
the same time we moved back here from California in 2006.
He now has three job titles with the company: operations
specialist, corporate trainer and manager. Not only does he work
at the DeKalb site, but he travels to provide support and training
at new businesses opening around the country. In the past year
or so, he has been sent to Virginia, California, Texas, Ohio,
Kentucky and Colorado. He said they call his group of trainers
the Wings Team because they fly so much. He has lots
of frequent flier miles racked up as well as premium hotel perks.
Standing in front of a wall poster advertising one
of Steak n Shakes more popular offerings is Johnny
B. Ice. (Schrader photo)
The company began in 1934 and now has about 500 locations
in 22 states and a few countries overseas. Johnny said he is
waiting for the opportunity to go to Dubai, Italy or France,
where restaurants have opened.
What he enjoys most about his multiple jobs is meeting
new people, training them and when serving the public, making
people happy. He said even though a person may not leave
a big tip, they all deserve the same kind of attention and a
He has five kids. His youngest attends Cortland Elementary,
and two others are a freshman and senior at DeKalb High School.
Johnny proudly mentioned that his freshman son plays basketball
for the Barbs, so he will be attending a lot of games. His two
oldest daughters have graduated from Kishwaukee College and Alabama
State. Although he doesnt look old enough, he already is
a grandfather, as one daughter has a baby girl. Johnny also mentioned
that his grandmother back in Alabama just passed at the age of
103. His wife, Erin, is with the U.S. Postal Service.
He talked about how many mayors, state officials and even
governors he has met at the companys grand openings over
the years. Knowing his outgoing personality, I can imagine they
remembered him, and not just because of his name tag.