<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:24:27 -0500 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:24:27 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[See the New Style of Student Housing]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:54:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/drexel-dorm.jpg These are not the cinderblock cells many remember from their college experiences. CNBC's Liz McLaughlin shows off some swanky new digs and explains why the market is hot right now.

Photo Credit: CNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Comes to Chicago for Small Business Boot Camp]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:12:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/199*120/Facebook+Fit+p1.jpg

Executifes from Facebook visited Chicago Thursday to host Facebook Fit, one of the first in a series of events designed to show entrepreneurs how to improve their Facebook marketing, finance management and legal services.

"[Small businesses] tell us that Facebook is increasingly the place for them to grow their businesses," said Dan Levy, Facebook's director of Small Business, in a release. "They also want to hear from [small business] experts and leading companies on best practices in other key areas such as payments, legal services, and financial management."

Levy is speaking at the keynote address today at Moonlight Studios, 1446 W. Kinzie St. 

Rhonda Abrams, author and entrepreneur,  and Mario Armstrong, television and radio personality, will join Levy in the small business panel discussion.

Last month, Facebook Fit hosted seminars in Miami and New York. Following its visit in Chicago, Facebook Fit heads to Austin, Texas and Menlo Park, Calif. in later this month and early August.

Facebook partnered with Legal Zoom, Inuit Quick Books and Square to host the workshops on topics such as using Facebook for sales and marketing, legal services, and sales.

"That's why we're creating Facebook Fit, so [small businesses] can achieve success in every aspect of their business," Levy said.

<![CDATA[United to Outsource Jobs at 12 Airports to Cut Costs]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 08:58:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/464651551.jpg

United Airlines is outsourcing more than 600 jobs at 12 airports around the country to cut costs while adding jobs at other airports.

The airline said Monday that it notified employees of the decision, which had been expected since May. They include ticket and gate agents and baggage handlers at airports served mostly by smaller United Express flights.

"This is a difficult decision, but we need to ensure that our costs are competitive," said United spokeswoman Christen David.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said that it negotiated seniority protection for many of the workers if they relocate, and that job losses will be limited.

Still, union spokesman James Carlson called the outsourcing a "race to the bottom. How can you compete with vendors paying $12 an hour?" He said United's top pay for the work is about $24 an hour.

United will hire other companies to handle the work at airports in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; Pensacola, Florida; and Salt Lake City.

Under the union contract, the airline will take back about 400 jobs that had been outsourced at Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, and Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. lost $609 million in the first quarter while rivals Delta and American made money. It employs about 87,000 workers overall, according to FactSet.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Revolution Brewing Makes List of Top Beer Can Designs]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:42:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antihero+IPA.jpg

Like books, you can't judge a beer by its cover. Unless your design is as cool as Chicago-based Revolution Brewing's Anti-Hero IPA. 

The brewery's aluminum can design was among the Top 10 picked by Russ Phillips, author of a new design book called "Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can."

The book explores original artwork of more than 600 craft beer cans, but Thrillist recently asked Phillips to pick his top favorite designs. Revolution's Anti-Hero IPA, featuring a "hop general" wearing Chicago stars and parachuting hop bombs, made the cut.

"I absolutely love this design," Phillips said. "What better way to provide imagery for an IPA than with actual hop bombs floating down behind a rather sinister-looking military general. Look closely and you'll see the stars on his uniform are those from the flag of Chicago. Revolution nailed it with this design."

The design is credited to Ian Law and Oliver Barrett.

Two other Midwest beers made Phillips' design cut, as well: Minneapolis-based Indeed Brewing Company's Midnight Ryder American Black Ale and Grand Rapids-based Brewery Vivant Kludde's Strong Ale.

Other beers on the list include Tallgrass Brewing Company's 8-Bit Pale Ale, Westbrook Brewing Co.'s White Thai Witbier, Santa Fe Brewing Company's Oktoberfest, Midnight Sun Brewing's Snowshoe White Wit Bier, Maui Brewing Co.'s Mana Wheat, Good People Brewing's Snake Handler Double IPA and New England Brewing Company's Gandhi-Bot Double IPA.

Photo Credit: Revolution Brewing]]>
<![CDATA[New Survey Ranks Best, Worst Fast Food in America]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:21:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/485070831.jpg

Want fries with that? Apparently Americans prefer quality, value and variety with their fast food, and according to a new survey, they aren't getting it from major chains.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's ranked last in a new Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers when it comes to burger taste. Jack in the Box finished second to last, and Burger King just above that.

"We asked subscribers this direct question," Consumer Reports writes. "On a scale of  1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste?"

McDonald's burgers finished with a score of 5.8. The tastiest burger, with a score of 8.1, went to The Habit Burger Grill, a chain based in California. In-N-Out Burger ranked second, followed by Five Guys and Smashburger.

When it came to the taste of fast-food chicken and burritos, mega-chains KFC and Taco Bell finished last, with respective scores of 7.1 and 6.3. Tops in those categories are Chick-fil-A and Chipotle.

"Many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s," Consumer Reports notes. "McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low."

Chicago-based Portillo's, which recently struck a deal with a buyout firm, won top honors for tastiest sandwich followed by Firehouse Subs and Schlotzsky’s. Au Bon Pain came in last in the category.

The publications also inquired about fast-casual restaurants.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm.

High-quality ingredients were most important when it came to consumers' favorites. While traditional chains have lagged in this area, Tristano says places like Chipotle have ended up on top.

Top fast-casual restaurants:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Jason’s Deli
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
  • McAlister’s Deli
  • Panera Bread
  • Schlotzsky’s

Top 10 burgers, by taste:

  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Five Guys Burger and Fries
  • Smashburger
  • Fuddruckers
  • Culver's
  • Whataburger
  • Burgerville
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Steak 'n Shake

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portillo's Makes Deal With Buyout Firm: Report]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 08:58:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/portillos-itailan-beef.jpg

Popular Chicago-area chain Portillo's reportedly has agreed to an investment from a buyout firm.

Dick Portillo, founder and owner of the Oak Brook-based company, confirmed the investment with Berkshire Partners LLC to the Chicago Tribune, noting the company wanted "an experienced partner that shared our vision for the company and an appreciation for our culture."

Though it's not clear whether the partnership includes the entire company, Reuters reports Berkshire could acquire Portillo's Restaurant Group for close to $1 billion.

The company is the largest privately owned restaurant chain in the Midwest and boasts more than three dozen restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and California. It's known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.

The owners announced in May their decision to consider selling the brand. They said at the time the company is poised to be taken to the next level.

Shortly after the announcement, Camping World CEO and reality show star Marcus Lemonis said he was interested in purchasing Portillo's 38 restaurants.

The Lake Forest resident even tweeted his interest at the time, saying Portillo's has "the best beef sandwich."

<![CDATA[Target 5: Investigating the Issues That Affect You Most]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 14:57:53 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[$martMoney]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 09:08:56 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[Chicago Lands George Lucas' Museum]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 17:03:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/george-lucas-r2d21.jpg

Chicago has come out on top in the intense competition for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

City Hall officials confirmed that the city has beat out San Francisco and Los Angeles for the museum, which will host more than 500,000 pieces of art and movie memorabilia from "Star Wars" director George Lucas' personal archives. The museum was initially supposed to be called the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, but the name change was announced Tuesday, along with the decision.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed building the museum on two parking lots located near Soldier Field and offered to lease the land to Lucas for $1, a similar arrangement other large cultural institutions have with the Chicago Park District.

Emanuel said in a news conference Tuesday that the museum will serve as a partner with the city's schools and an opportunity to create jobs.

"I can't thank George and Mellody enough for choosing Chicago," Emanuel said. "This will be a tremendous opportunity, a significant step for the city. No other major American city has these types of cultural and educational institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus unparalleled in the United States."

The proposal still needs to go through the Chicago Plan Commission and the earliest it would open is 2018.

Museum officials say the facility will be dedicated to narrative art -- the telling of stories visually, and that the key objective will be to inspire and educate future generations.

Chicago received the nod "because of the quality of the site proposed by the city's task force," and the "unparalleled visitor access" on the 17-acre site.

"Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in San Francisco," said Mr. Lucas, a native of Modesto, Ca.

San Francisco was pushing a piece of property near the water in its downtown area after city officials rejected the first targeted location.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promoted the use of a #WhyLucasInLA hashtag to build support through social media. The museum would have been located near the University of Southern California, where Lucas attended film school.

Emanuel lobbied hard for the museum to come to Chicago but family ties likely played a part in the decision. Lucas' wife, Mellody Hobson, is from Chicago and the two share a home in the city.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Entrepreneur Barbie Makes Her Debut]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/BarbieEntreBillboard_v3_%282%29.jpg

From nurse to pilot to NASCAR driver to computer engineer, Barbie has had a lot of different careers. Now she’s adding entrepreneur to the list of titles under her exceptionally small plastic belt.

Equipped with a smartphone, briefcase, tablet and even LinkedIn, Entrepreneur Barbie is now being sold.

The doll’s description explains that she has partnered with “a diverse group of female entrepreneurs,” including the founders of the Girls Who Code, Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, Plum Alley, Genuine Insights, Sugarfina and TheTomKat Studio.

Adding to the innovation element of the plastic doll, who dons a hot pink dress, “elegant hair” and a glam necklace, Entrepreneur Barbie even hosts Twitter chats alongside her established entrepreneur partners and has her own hashtags like #BarbieChat and #unapologetic.

The entrepreneurs offered tips and advice to young girls with a Twitter discussion Wednesday to help reinforce the doll’s slogan, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”

“This year alone, female entrepreneurs have graced the cover of TIME's Most Influential People issue and lead 1-in-5 start-ups,” toy maker Mattel said in a statement. “Alongside Barbie, female entrepreneurs are changing the world, surpassing their goal and showing girls they can be both capable and captivating.”

More companies are starting to take note of female entrepreneurs. In Chicago, 1871 is set to launch a new facility designed to foster growth and opportunity for women-owned tech startups in the city.

But Entrepreneur Barbie isn’t without criticism. Some have questioned why she has no real career focus, and others claim she is categorized an “entrepreneur” thanks to her handy electronic devices and “dressed for success” attire.

Others have also rasied questions about her hashtag, #unapologetic, wondering what a female entrepreneur would need to be sorry for.

It wouldn’t be the first time the doll has been at the center of a controversy over her 55 years in the mannequin “business.”

Most recently, Mattel received criticism after the doll appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue.

In the issue Barbie wears an updated version of her black-and-white bathing suit she sported when first introduced in 1959.

Photo Credit: Business Wire]]>
<![CDATA[Culver's Plans First Chicago Location in Wrigleyville]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:33:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/174*120/culvers+getty.jpg

Chicagoans could be eating "ButterBurgers" in Wrigleyville by Cubs Opening Day next year.

Culver's, the Wisconsin-based chain known for its signature burgers and frozen custard, plans to open its first Chicago location at 3500 N. Clark St., two blocks from Wrigley Field.

The franchise hopes to cater to the neighborhood's families, as well as baseball lovers and the late-night crowd.

"We think it's a great opportunity to serve Culver's fans from all over the Chicago area coming to games at Wrigley Field," said Jack Rush, an operational partner opening the location with franchisee Justin Obriech.

Obriech owns five other Culver's locations in the south suburbs and has lived in Chicago's Lakeview area for about seven years, Rush said.

As the team applies for Chicago permits, Rush said they have received positive feedback from local residents and Ald. Tom Tunney.

"We have been welcomed with very high praise of the Culver's brand, the [chain's] hospitality and the whole Culver's style," he said.

Rush said they are "excited and hopeful" to be open by next spring.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[eBay to Expand in Chicago]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:58:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/70d7c28cf8744445ba039f9d6d24c3f1.jpg

Illinois officials say eBay Inc. will expand into Chicago.

The online auction giant will hire 360 employees over three years and lease a 60,000-square-foot office in the city's Merchandise Mart building, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokesman David Roeder said the company will be eligible for an incentives package. That package could cut $12 million from eBay's tax bill over the 10 years if it makes good on a pledge to spend $24 million on the expansion effort. That includes hiring 216 full-time employees by spring of 2016 and 144 more by the following March.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay bought Chicago tech startup Braintree for $800 million last year.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's "thrilled" that eBay is expanding into Chicago.

<![CDATA[5 Traffic Apps to Help Navigate Kennedy Closures]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:26:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/04-25-2014-generic-traffic-generic.jpg

It's already being called "carmageddon." During the last three weekends in June, part of the Kennedy Expressway will close for major construction at Ohio Street, likely causing massive delays and detours.

How to deal? If you're ready to hit the road, here are five traffic apps to help you navigate around the construction and closures.

Google Maps: If your phone doesn't already feature it, this app integrates navigation with traffic density and routes to automatically reroute you around traffic. It now also offers the option of sharing your route and arrival info with friends and family.

Waze: Described as "one of the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation apps," Waze uses crowd-sourced information for traffic info, construction updates and roadway incidents. The app alerts you to any oncoming issues with time for you to avoid them.

Inrix HD: The app touts billions of data points to give users accurate, real-time traffic information. It's designed to make commutes shorter and smarter, depending on daily traffic patterns. In some cities, you can even view traffic cameras for a first-hand look at the roads.

TransitGenie: Taking public transit? This app plans your Chicago trip with CTA bus-tracking data and CTA and Metra train schedules. It was developed by a computer scientist at the University of Illinois who knows his way around town. 

Hopstop: If you're headed to a weekend festival and aren't too familiar with Chicago, consider giving this app a go. Used in more than 140 cities, it maps a route via transit, walking, biking and taxi from your current location to your destination.

Bonus: NBC 5's app: We couldn't help ourselves. Download our app for up-to-the-minute travel times with construction alerts and incident reports. Tune in to our traffic page for an interactive map and reporter Kye Martin's traffic updates and reroutes for the Kennedy construction.

<![CDATA[WGN Says Cubs Radio Deal Didn't Make Economic Sense]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:51:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP848740801840_1.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are ending their partnership with WGN Radio, one of the longest such relationships in broadcast history.

WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro confirmed Wednesday media reports that the Cubs are leaving the station after this season. The radio station has been the Cubs' radio home for 90 years.

De Castro told MLB.com that it didn't make sense, business-wise, to stick with AM radio.

"It's not that we don't love the Cubs," de Castro said. "It's that it just doesn't make business sense on an AM radio station given today's new media opportunities and ways for advertisers to buy the Cubs."

The Cubs say they'll hold a news conference Thursday at Wrigley Field to announce a long-term broadcast deal with CBS-owned WBBM-AM. Cubs announcers Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer are expected to continue calling the team's games.

De Castro says parting ways was a difficult decision for the station. But he says the decision was made after the station determined the business deal the Cubs insisted on did not make economic sense for the station, which first broadcast the team's games in 1925.

"We're still going to be associated with the Cubs," de Castro said. "We still think it's going to be a big, big part of our platform. We're still going to spring training."

The Cubs haven't had a winning team for several years, losing 288 games over the last three years, which has affected advertising revenue, according to de Castro. As a result, the radio station has lost money and would have continued to lose money had the team decided to renew its contract with the broadcast outlet.

The station exercised an opt-out provision in the contract last fall due to falling ratings and revenue. That move followed the Cubs' decision to opt out of their WGN-TV deal to seek better long-term regional TV rights fees.

WGN parent Tribune Co. recently announced the company's intention to stop televising Chicago sports nationally on WGN America as it converts it to a basic cable channel from a superstation.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 More Mariano's Stores Set to Open in 2015]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 10:39:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Marianos_park-ridge.jpg

Mariano's isn't done yet.

The grocery store chain plans to open five more locations in 2015, with four confirmed stores set to open in the suburbs.

A Mariano's spokesman confirmed to NBC 5 the following four locations: 

  • 2601 W. 95th St. in Evergreen Park
  • Willow Road at I-294 in Glenview
  • 7200 N. McCormick Blvd. in Skokie
  • 770 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in October its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales, and Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores.

By the end of this year, Mariano's will have 29 stores in the Chicago area -- 10 in the city and 19 in the suburbs.

Owner Bob Mariano recently announced the chain plans to build a new store at 39th Street and King Drive on Chicago's South Side. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Mariano told Crain's Chicago Business it projects the Chicago-area market can support between 45 and 50 locations.

<![CDATA[4 Places Never to Swipe Your Debit Card]]> Mon, 19 May 2014 05:05:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/debit+card+swipe.jpg There are four places where you should not be swiping your debit card. Lynda Baquero has more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Group Urges Walgreens to Leave Illinois for Europe]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens+sign+edit.jpg

Walgreens is under pressure to move its Illinois-based headquarters out of the country.

A group owning nearly 5 percent of the company's shares wants the pharmacy chain to consider relocating to Europe, according to the Financial Times, to reduce Walgreens' taxable income in the U.S.

After the company's previous refusal to move, the group lobbied management at a private meeting last week in Paris, the Financial Times reports.

Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and hedge funds Jana Partners, Corvex and Och-Ziff reportedly were at the meeting, and sources told the publication talks were constructive.

The shareholders want to use their stake in Swiss-based Alliance Boots, 45 percent of which Walgreens acquired in 2012, to change its domicile to Europe.

The move, called a tax inversion, could increase earnings per share but analysts say it could have political resistance in the U.S.

<![CDATA[United Airlines Ranks Third in Consumer Complaints]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:53:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

Chicago-based United Airlines came in third in a ranking of airlines with the most complaints last year, according to a research report.

The report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, released Thursday, ranked 13 major airlines in the United States by the number of complaints per 100,000 passengers.

The rankings come from 2013 data, but the research group has data from the past five years. United Airlines has consistently stayed at the No. 2 and No. 3 ranking during those years.

The airline with the least amount of complaints is Southwest Airlines, which has held that ranking for the past five years. Spirit Airlines has consistently had the most complaints all five years.

The report found that most complaints were about delayed or canceled flights. Over the past five years, the number of these complaints has increased overall. The report also noted the increase in complaints about crowding of seats, gates, runways and airways.

"When airlines cut corners, it causes all sorts of headaches for passengers," Laura Murray, a consumer associate for the research group, said in a press statement. "These complaints show that the airlines and policymakers should act to improve service."

Complaints about baggage have dropped since 2009, and fewer reports of mishandled bags have been sent to the Department of Transportation.

The report unsurprisingly found that the number of complaints about flight problems correlated with the airline's statistics for on-time performance. In the past few years, United Airlines has dealt with major delays due to computer glitches, prompting passengers nationwide to file complaints.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[IKEA Buying Illinois Wind-Energy Project]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:24:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/452348899.jpg

IKEA's U.S. subsidiary is buying a long-planned wind-energy project in eastern Illinois as part of the company's initiative to offset its power use with renewable energy generation.

Rob Olson is chief financial officer of the Swedish furniture retailer's U.S. business. He says IKEA plans to have Hoopeston Wind up and running by 2015. The company says the 98-megawatt wind farm should generate enough electricity to offset all of its U.S. power use.

IKEA and many other companies such as Google and Walmart have announced plans in recent years to use more renewable energy.

IKEA won't say what it is paying for the Hoopeston project. It is buying it from Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy. That company will operate the wind farm.

IKEA becomes the yet-to-be-built project's third owner.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Food Ordering Company GrubHub Soars in Debut]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:39:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/grubhub+screenshot.jpg

Wall Street appears to be in the mood for takeout.

Investors sent shares of online food ordering service GrubHub Inc. jumped 51 percent to $39.20 in early trading in its stock market debut Friday.

GrubHub and its rivals are changing the way people order takeout from restaurants. Instead of calling a restaurant, people can order their next meal online or through a few taps on a smartphone app.

The Chicago company raised $192.5 million after pricing more than 7.4 million shares at $26 per share. That's above the company's previously expected range between $23 per share and $25 per share.

The stock is trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "GRUB."

<![CDATA[Hot Dog Lovers Unite For Chicago Emoji]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:01:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hot+dog+emoji.jpg

The dog days may soon be over in the world of emojis, thanks to Chicago hot dog restaurant Superdawg.

General Manager Laura Ustick began a campaign earlier this year to advocate for the creation of a hot dog emoji, and the campaign has attracted national attention. Emoji are the colorful pictures and icons used in electronic messages to communicate things, from feelings to food.

The current dictionary of emojis contains food symbols of all kinds, including pizza, sushi, French fries and ice cream. Somehow, the traditional American cuisine -- the hot dog -- has been left out.

Ustick noticed a demand for the emoji after witnessing Twitter discussions about the absence of a hot dog. Since then, she has joined the conversation and created a prototype for the emoji.

"We take our hot dogs very seriously," Usick said.

Ustick's design for the hot dog is meant to appeal to hot dog lovers all over the world, but its lack of ketchup is a tribute to her Chicago roots.

In her appeal for the emoji, Usick has enlisted hot dog restaurants and food celebrities all over the country, including Vienna Beef, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council in D.C., Detroit's Singing Hot Dog Man and competitive eater Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti.

Ustick believes the hot dog emoji belongs with the rest of them, so she has been using social media sites like Twitter and the Facebook page "Hot Dog Emoji Coalition" to get the word out.

"The emoji is a universal language, and the hot dog is a universal food," she said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Groupon Launches Fund to Restore Swedish Water Tower]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:19:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Swedish_Museum_Tower.jpg

Chicago-based Groupon wants to see a symbol of Andersonville's identity restored.

The company on Friday launched a campaign to restore the historic water tower that, up until Thursday, stood atop the Swedish American Museum.

In a 13-hour effort, crews removed the tower because it was damaged throughout the course of our long winter. Water in the tank, painted to resemble the Swedish flag with a blue background and yellow cross, is believed to have frozen during the winter and damaged the bands holding the tank together.

A page on Groupon's website -- www.groupon.com/andersonville -- is collecting donations through the end of the month "to fully restore" the tower once it's been repaired. People can donate in $10, $25 or $50 increments, the company said, with 100 percent of the money raised going to the museum. Groupon will take care of the credit card fees.

Lesli Proffitt Nordstrom, the museum's marketing manager, said it wasn't immediately known how much it would cost to restore the tower, which now sits in the museum's parking lot. Experts are slated to examine the tank in the coming week to determine what can be done with it, she said.

"In the event that it can't be repaired, we want to make sure that whatever we put up there is equally striking," she said.

Groupon said similar restoration projects in the past have cost up to $200,000.

The loss of the tower, which was erected in 1927 and remained functioning, was "really catastrophic for us," Proffitt Nordstrom said.

A symbol of the tower is included in the logo for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) called it a "a treasured symbol of the Andersonville community" in an email to constituents.

Groupon officials approached the museum late Thursday to coordinate the details of the funding campaign. Donations can also be made to the museum through the website at SwedishAmericanMuseum.org.

<![CDATA[Now Hiring: 350 Jobs Open At Bridgeport Mariano's]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:07:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Marianos_park-ridge.jpg

Mariano's recently took over several former Dominick's locations in Chicago, and the chain is hiring.

Next up: the new location in Bridgeport. The store hosts a job fair Saturday to help fill 350 new positions.

Mariano's partnered with the Instituto del Progreso Latino to host the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. fair. The store is hiring people of all experience levels, from entry-level jobs to management positions.

The former Dominick's store, located at 3145 S. Ashland Ave., was acquired by Roundy's, Inc. in December after Dominick's announced it was leaving the Chicago market.

The Bridgeport location is one of 11 former Dominick's stores being converted into Mariano's.

Mariano's says it will have created 10,000 jobs in four years.

The job fair will be held at the Instituto del Progreso Latino at 2520 S. Western Ave.

<![CDATA[Chicago-Based Calumet Photographic Shutters U.S. Stores]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 14:53:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CES_Thursday_P8.jpg

A Chicago-based photography store has closed its doors and filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.

Calumet Photographic, which sells and rents photography equipment and supplies, announced on its Facebook page Thursday that it will immediately close its stores in the United States.

“After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue),” the company wrote. “It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all of these years. We'll miss each other and we'll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything.”

At the same time, the company's website and Twitter pages both disappeared.

The company listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities, according to its bankruptcy filing from Wednesday.

While some commenters responded to the "goodbye post" with sympathy and sadness, others claimed employees and customers were not told of the news until after the stores closed.

“So my wife is just told NOT to come to work.. she's out of a job.. NO HR mention, NO mention of final paycheck, NO mention of what to do about insurance? NOTHING?! Really???” one commenter posted.

“Calumet didn't have the decency to tell there [sic] employees what was happening they had to show up at work to find out it was closed. How about treating your employees with respect,” another said.

Some customers were questioning how they can retrieve equipment left at the store for repairs or be refunded for recent purchases.

“So I have an outstanding order will I be receiving it or be getting a refund, would be kind of nice for the people who did support the business to know!?” one commenter posted.

“I still have a camera in the repair shop there. How will I get it back?” another commenter wrote.

A few hours after their original Facebook post, the company said they were exploring opportunities to reopen “select locations.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bad News for Amazon Prime Members]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:52:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/amazon-453056767.jpg

If you've ever wanted to sign up for Amazon Prime, you have a week to do so before a big price hike takes effect.

The cost of a standard "Prime" membership is set to set you back $99, up from $79. The $20 rate increase is Amazon's first since the program launched nine years ago.

Prime membership has expanded over the years to include free two-day shipping, free video streaming and a Kindle lending library.

The online retailer detailed the price changes in an email to subscribers. If an existing member's renewal occurs before April 17, 2014, the subscriber will be charged the previous rate of $79 (and $99 for renewals thereafter).

Amazon student memberships will cost $49 and "Prime Fresh" memberships will remain at $299. Prime Fresh members get free same-day and early morning delivery of orders over $35, including fresh grocery and local products found on AmazonFresh.com. It's currently only available in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The standard membership price bump now makes Amazon Prime slightly more expensive than Netflix, which runs just under $96 per year, based on a monthly $7.99 subscription cost.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Delays Wendella River Tour & Taxi Boats]]> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 08:05:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wendella-boats-ice.jpg

Chicago's winter of record-breaking snow and cold has delayed the opening of river boat tour and taxi season.

Wendella Cruises were expected to start operations on Friday, but the fleet is stuck in ice along the Calumet River. Company president Michael Borgstrom said the boats are surrounded by ice that is up to 20 inches thick.

"In addition, Lake Michigan is iced over, making our annual trip from the shipyard an impossibility," he said.

The company set April 4 as the new start date. It's the first time in the company's 80-year history that the season has been delayed.

Wendella operates the popular Combined Lake and River Tour, Chicago River Architecture Tour, Chicago at Sunset Cruise and the Chicago River Experience Tour. The company also operates the Chicago WaterTaxi that provides scheduled water transportation service seven days a week from the Union Station and the Ogilvie Transporation Center to Michigan Avenue, Chinatown and North Avenue at Goose Island.

The federal government's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor reported that ice spread across 93.29 percent of the lake's surface area on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Wendella Boats]]>
<![CDATA[U of C Tops Northwestern in Business Grad School Rankings ]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:19:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/university+of+chicago+getty.JPG

Two Illinois business schools swapped spots in this year's U.S. News & World Report ranking of best graduate schools in the country.

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business moved up to No. 4 from last year's sixth place, and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management moved down to No. 6 from fourth.

Both schools were topped by Harvard University, Stanford University and the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, which all tied for the No. 1 spot. The Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked fifth after tying for fourth last year.

Chicago's part-time MBA programs also were noted in the list, published Tuesday.

"The Haas School of Business at University of California—Berkeley, Chicago's Booth School of Business and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management again came in at Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively."

As for the best online graduate business programs, the top spot went to Indiana University—​Bloomington (Kelley).

See the full rankings here.

<![CDATA[Boeing Shares Drop Amid Search for Missing Plane]]> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:45:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP201588954901.jpg

Shares of Chicago-based Boeing were down more than two percent in Monday morning trading, the first business day after one of its aircraft disappeared over the South China Sea.

As of midday, shares of Boeing were down $3.24 to $125.31.

It's been nearly three days since a Malaysia Airlines'-branded Boeing 777-200 vanished with 239 people on board. Despite an intense, international search, authorities still have not found any wreckage of the aircraft.

There was no sign of trouble before it disappeared Friday evening, and no distress signal was sent.

The Boeing 777 is regarded as one of the industry's safest planes. The National Transportation Safety Board has logged fewer than 60 incidents involving the aircraft since mid-1997, most of them minor.

Business analysts said they don't expect the Malaysian incident to have a dramatic affect on that record unless a flaw is found to have caused a problem.

"This is the best international plane ever built yet -- it's got an impeccable track record after 20 years and over 1,200 deliveries," Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis with the Teal Group in Virginia, told USA TODAY. "It's typically used on international routes, and it's established a new standard for international safety."

The 777 had a nearly spotless record before the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport in July. In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crash landed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport. No one was injured.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gossip App Disabled After Chicago Schools Cite Bully Behavior]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 11:51:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/yik+yak.jpg

A social media gossip app was disabled in Chicago after local high school administrators and parents expressed concerns that the app was used for cyber bullying.

Yik Yak, an “anonymous social wall” that allows users to post and share their comments to a live feed with other users in a local radius, stirred controversy because of reports that students use the app to bully other students. The app was disabled Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Prior to the disabling of the app, some schools in the Chicago area took action to try and keep the Yik Yak off their campuses, and several sent letters to parents.

New Trier Township High School district said Wednesday they blocked the app from their wireless network.

In a letter to parents, Denise Hibbard, principal at the Winnetka campus, and Paul Waechtler, principal of the Northfield campus, said officials made the decision to block the app due to the “harmful and inappropriate comments we have seen, in some cases naming other students.”

Though access was blocked on the school’s network, students could still view and post by turning off the wireless option on their device and using their own mobile network.

“Unfortunately, these apps make it impossible to trace the source of comments, and as a result teens often feel emboldened to target fellow students or make lewd or otherwise damaging posts,” the letter read.

Users must be 17 years old to download and post on the live feed, which resembles that of a Twitter feed. A push notification appears during the download process asking a user to confirm they are older than 17, and the user must hit a “confirm” button to continue downloading.

“No profiles, no passwords, it’s all anonymous,” the app’s description reads in the iPhone App Store.

And New Trier wasn’t the only school reporting an issue with students abusing the anonymous feed.

Lake Forest High School also sent out a letter Wednesday to inform parents of issues with the app and encourage them to delete it from students’ phones. The high school also blocked the app from their wireless network.

“Sadly, we have found that this app is allowing students to verbally abuse each other as well as faculty and staff at LFHS,” Principal Barry Rodgers wrote. “Our faculty and Student Council will be addressing this issue at school. We ask that you have a meaningful conversation with your son/daughter. We also recommend deleting the Yik Yak app and reviewing the apps on your child's phone.”

According to Yik Yak, the anonymity feature was implemented to eliminate discrimination on posts.

“Your popularity, race, gender, sexuality, and looks don’t mean anything on Yik Yak,” app officials wrote in a blog post.

<![CDATA[Jewel-Osco Buys 5 More Chicago-Area Dominick's Stores]]> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:50:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP985800088575.jpg

Jewel-Osco’s parent company is buying five more shuttered Dominick's stores in the Chicago area, the company announced Thursday.

New Albertson’s, Inc. plans to remodel and reopen the following stores, two of which were included in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Grocery Store Task Force priority list:

  • 3243 S. 115th St, Merrionette Park
  • 1763 Howard St, Chicago
  • 800 NW Highway, Fox River Grove
  • 345 S. Rand Road, Lake Zurich
  • 424 W. Division, Chicago

The move signals the first project for Shane Sampson, who New Albertson’s, Inc. announced has been appointed president of the Chicago-based Jewel-Osco Division. Sampson is currently president of Albertson’s Boston-based Shaw’s Division and will fill the role held by interim Division President Jim Rice since January 2014.

"Sampson and his leadership team will focus their efforts on creating stores to fit the neighborhoods they serve," the company said in a statement.

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in October its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales.

Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores, and four Dominick’s stores have since re-opened as Jewel-Osco supermarkets.

Photo Credit: AP]]>