<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Thu, 02 Apr 2015 02:03:09 -0500 Thu, 02 Apr 2015 02:03:09 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Best and Worst April Fools' Jokes of 2015]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:18:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/youngprofessional-frustrated1.jpg

It is officially April 1, notoriously known as a time for bad jokes, pranks and fools. It's a day where truth and ridiculously annoying (and occasionally funny) fiction collide.

With each passing April Fools’ Day comes a new round of creative pranksters hoping to one-up the competition, but some jokes will inevitably leave many questioning why the day of tricks is still a thing. 

Here are a few of the best and worst pranks from around the web this year:

Groupon Launches Grøüber

Groupon took the more obvious route when it came to their April Fools’ joke, announcing the launch of Grøüber, a transportation service with cats for drivers. Essentially Uber with feline drivers, Grøüber uses red lasers as a GPS for the four-legged friends behind the wheel.

Rdio Releases Cat-Owned Streaming Service

Not one to be outdone in the cat-themed April Fools’ pranks, Rdio launched the first-ever cat-owned global streaming service. The Rdio-Meowz and the “Meow Mix” station was reportedly founded by Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub, Piano Cat, I Can Has Cheezburger cat, Maru, and Nyan Cat, which apparently felt cats were misrepresented in the music world.

Backwards Google

Type com.google and everything appears backwards.

Retro Amazon

Amazon’s homepage went retro for the day, offering things like whoopee cushions and books on cubicle warfare. The site also lists Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin as the day’s music top seller.

Honda Releases HR-V Selfie Edition

In the spirit of the selfie sensation, Honda announced the release of the HR-V Selfie Edition, a car with 10 cameras across the interior and exterior to allow drivers to snap self-portraits in their car.

Miz Mooz Debuts Selfie Shoes

Selfie Shoes--When your leg becomes a selfie stick. Miz Mooz released a new shoe that holds your phone so you can stick your leg out for a selfie.

Esurance to Develop New “Presurance”

Esurance, owned by Chicago-based Allstate, announced Wednesday plans to develop a new product called “Presurance,” which alerts you seven days before your next “mishap.”

“The future is literally in the palm of your hand,” the company’s website reads.

CERN Confirms Existence of The Force

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced in breaking news that researchers confirmed the existence of the Force. May the force be with you pranksters.

Google Maps Becomes Pac-Man

Forget the arcade. Google Maps has turned the streets of your neighborhood into a Pac-Man game of its own.

Find out how to play here.

Microsoft Launches MS-DOS Mobile

Microsoft announced the launch of MS-DOS Mobile, a new OS designed for Lumia smartphones. "Black and white text has never looked so good," Tom Messett, marketer for Microsoft Lumia, said in a YouTube video about the new system. 


In another Google prank, the company introduced the new Smartbox—a smart mailbox that combines email and snail mail together.

Samsung Releases Galaxy BLADE Edge

Samsung revealed its latest product-- the “smartknife.” The “ultimate cooking companion” runs on the latest OS and comes with the features of a Galaxy S6, but its edge is so sharp and strong that it can also serve as a chef’s knife.

Motorola’s #MotoSelfieStick

Motorola debuts handcarved wooden and handmade leather selfie sticks dubbed #MotoSelfieSticks.

“It’s one of the most practical, useful accessories around,” a woodcarver says in a YouTube video for the product. “It’s like when the sun turns the rain into a rainbow.”

Hinge Launches App for Toddlers

Hinge launched its latest app called Playdating, a new tool helping toddlers find play dates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Starbucks to Introduce New "Cold Brew" at Chicago Locations]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:57:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/starbucks+cold+brew.jpg

Starbucks customers in Chicago will soon see a new drink popping up on menus in the area.

Beginning Tuesday, the coffee company plans to introduce its new “Starbucks Cold Brew” to the menus of nearly 2,800 locations, including stores in Chicago and other cities where “iced coffee is most popular.”

The Cold Brew drink features coffee that is slowly steeped for 20 hours using cool water. The beverage is different from traditional iced coffee, which is made by brewing hot coffee at double-strength and pouring over ice.

“Iced coffee and espresso beverages have a stronger, roastier flavor with a bit of nuttiness that comes from brewing with hot water,” Michelle Sundquist with Starbucks’ Research and Development team said in a statement. “Our Cold Brew is smooth and rich, it’s very refreshing with chocolate and light citrus notes.”

Participating stores will only brew one small batch of the Cold Brew each day so quantities of the drink will be limited, the company said.

State's included in Tuesday's launch are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC and Wisconsin.

The release of the beverage comes after the company introduced a limited-time Birthday Cake Frappuccino to celebrate the blended drink’s 20th birthday.

The Frappuccino special ends Monday. 

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Test All-Day Breakfast ]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:02:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

Could you soon get an Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich after 10:30 a.m.?

A McDonald's spokesperson told NBC Chicago the company plans to begin testing all-day breakfast next month at select restaurants in the San Diego area. 

"We know our customers love McDonald’s breakfast and they tell us they’d like to enjoy it beyond the morning hours," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to learning from this test, and it’s premature to speculate on any outcomes. We’re excited to serve our customers in this area some of McDonald’s great-tasting breakfast sandwiches, hash browns and other favorites all day long."

The move comes as the fast food giant based in Oak Brook, Illinois, fights to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

The president of McDonald's USA, Jeff Stratton, told the Associated Press last year that the chain was in the early stages of looking at whether it can extend its breakfast hours.

According to the company’s website, the reason breakfast isn’t served all day is because of the size of their kitchen grills.

“They simply don’t have the room for all of our menu options at one time — especially considering we use our grill to prepare many items on our breakfast menu,” the website reads.

McDonald's has continuously entertained the idea of serving breakfast throughout the day. The company offers an "After Midnight" menu at select locations. The menu, available from midnight to 4 a.m., consisted of a limited mix of breakfast and lunch items so kitchen operations wouldn't be overwhelmed.

McDonald's has long been the fast-food leader in the mornings, with its popular Sausage Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items pulling in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales. But the chain has faced stiffer competition in recent years, with competitors such as Starbucks and Subway rolling out breakfast sandwiches as well.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has also said it plans to step up its marketing of breakfast as it faces intensifying competition.

As for extending its breakfast hours, the world's largest hamburger chain is known for treading extremely carefully when discussing any tests or potential changes. Such matters are considered sensitive in large part because they would require the support of the company's network of franchisees.

<![CDATA[Frappuccino Turns 20, Starbucks Releases New Flavor]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:31:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Birthday_Cake_Frappuccino_%283%29.jpg

Get it while it’s… cold?

Starbucks’ popular frappuccino has turned 20 and to honor the beverage's big birthday, the company has debuted a new specialty drink—the Birthday Cake Frappuccino.

The limited-time beverage, a vanilla bean and hazelnut mixture topped with raspberry-infused whipped cream, will be available at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada from Thursday to Monday.

The iconic drink was first released in the summer of 1995 with coffee and mocha flavors available. The drinks was initially made without whipped cream.

“The first week of launch we were tracking sales, and it was something like 200,000 drinks the first week – when we were hoping for 100,000,” Dan Moore, director of brand management at Starbucks, said in a statement. “The next week it was 400,000 and the next it was 800,000. We had figured it would do well in Southern California – but it sold just as well in Chicago, Vancouver B.C. and Boston. It was huge.”

The drink changed the company’s customer base, giving them a way to bring in people who weren’t typically coffee drinkers.

In 1999, Starbucks released the Caramel Frappuccino, complete with the now-typical “dome lid” for whipped cream.

“At the time, domed lids were radical thinking, so was the idea of adding whipped cream,” said Dina Campion of Starbucks’ Digital Team. “But for our customers it represented a momentary break – an escape in their day.”

In 2002, came the Blended Crème beverage, followed by the Frappuccino Light. By 2010, customers could customize their frappuccinos to be made with milk or soy, various coffee types and their preferred syrups and toppings.

The blended beverages are now available in 66 countries with more than 36,000 different drink combinations.

Other countries have unique flavors like the Coffee Jelly Frappuccino and Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino in Asia, the Algarrobina Frappuccino in Peru or the chocolate Brigadeiro Frappuccino in Brazil. 

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Launches Big Mac Fashion Collection]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:30:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/big+mac+shop+site.jpg

You might be able to smell like Burger King’s Whopper, but now you can also look like McDonald’s Big Mac.

The company on Tuesday released a new lifestyle collection, complete with clothing, bedding, wallpaper, boots, and even dog jackets, all of which are stamped with images of the fast food chain’s iconic Big Mac.

The line launched in Stockholm Sweden during a Big Mac fashion show, which featured models walking a “McCatwalk” in white garments covered in images of the meaty meal.

The move was part of a global “imlovinit” campaign that featured 24 hours of McDonald’s surprises in 24 cities.

The event also included a Ne-Yo concert in Los Angeles, an ice coupon machine in Rio de Janeiro, a ball pit in the shape of a giant coffee cup in Sydney, Australia, a giant Big Mac selfie in Dubai and a “Joy Maze” in Bucharest, Romania.

Photo Credit: Big Mac Shop
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<![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[Why Less is More for Playboy.com]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:10:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/hugh+heffner.jpg

Playboy's website is now safe for work—well, some of it.

The iconic publication, a men’s lifestyle magazine known for its photographs of nude women, has transformed its online presence over the last year to feature more “safe for work” content and the move has apparently paid off.

According to Adweek, Playboy saw a 258 percent year-over-year increase in unique visitors from January 2014 to January 2015.

Last year, the brand began transitioning their digital content to clickable, shareable, readable articles like “19 Best Worst Excuses for Calling in Sick” and “When You Should Catcall a Woman” (spoiler alert: the answer is don’t).

The move reportedly comes after Playboy.com moved its editorial from a third-party content creator to in-house where they started emphasizing the “men’s lifestyle” element of the brand.

The publication grew from 5.5 million global unique visitors in July 2014, to 21.5 million global unique visitors in January 2015, Adweek reports. It also went from 50,000 video views in July 2014 to 6 million views by December 2014.

The brand was also named on Shareablee blog’s “Top 25 U.S. Social Brands 2014.”

Playboy ranked 15th on the list with more than 103 million social media interactions.

In addition to the safe-for-work content creation, Adweek reports Playboy also partnered with Stolichnaya Premium Vodka to create “The Playboy,” an advice section for millennial men.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Farm Gets FAA Approval to Test Drones]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:41:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/drone+generic.jpg

State Farm says it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test the use of drones.

The Bloomington-based company is the first insurer in the U.S. to receive FAA permission to test unmanned aircraft systems for commercial use. State Farm said it plans to use the aircraft to “assess potential roof damage during the claims and respond to natural disasters.”

“The potential use of UAS provides us one more innovative tool to help State Farm customers recover from the unexpected as quickly and efficiently as possible," Wensley Herbert, Operations Vice President – Claims, said in a statement.

The first flights will be tested in Bloomington and will evolve to testing in real-world scenarios, the company said.

A spokeswoman for State Farm said the time frame is “fluid” but the company plans to begin testing after they pick which systems they will test and find pilots to man the devices.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[M Burger Dishes Out Free Burgers to Celebrate Birthday]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:45:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/188*120/M+Burger.jpg

M Burger fans will want to hear this—the popular Chicago-based chain will give out free burgers with any purchase Wednesday.

The move is to celebrate five years since the company first opened its Huron Street location, but the free burger promotion will be available at any of the chain’s four Chicago locations and their Skokie store.

The free burgers include hamburgers, cheeseburgers, their signature M Burgers and, yes, any burger on their “Secret Menu.”

The first fast-casual burger joint from Lettuce Entertain You, M Burger was born on the wall opposite of Tru, one of Chicago’s top fine dining destinations. The location quickly drew a strong following for high quality burgers, fries and shakes at fast-food prices. 

Photo Credit: Facebook.com/MBurgerChicago]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Faces Complaints Over Worker Burns]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:09:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcds-protest-1.jpg

A small group of protesters gathered outside a McDonald's restaurant on Chicago's west side Tuesday morning to lobby for more training and protective equipment that would protect injury, primarily burns.

The demonstration inside and outside the restaurant, on the 3200 block of West Roosevelt Road, comes one day after employees around the nation filed 28 health and safety complaints against the Oak Brook-based company.

"We don't have any actual cream or Band-Aids or none of that, so if you get cut, that's it. Or if you get burned, mustard is the treatment," said employee Adriana Alvarez.

Protesters marched with signs in English and Spanish that read "McDonald's, Don't Burn Me" and others that alleged employees have been told to treat burns with condiments.

The complaints were filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The federal agency said it would investigate the allegations.

A statement from the McDonald's corporate office said the restaurant and its independent franchisees "are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations."

Spokeswoman Heide Barker Sa Shekhem added that the company believes the complaints are part of a larger strategy to tarnish the McDonald's brand.

The protest was organized by the group "Fight for 15," which has held a number of demonstrations around the country to push for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Photo Credit: Susan Carlson]]>
<![CDATA[Jelly Belly Puts Wisconsin Warehouse Up for Sale]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:09:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jelly_bellys.jpg

With Easter just weeks away, Jelly Belly Candy Co. said it plans to sell their Wisconsin warehouse and move their operations to Tennessee.

The warehouse property located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin has been listed for sale, a company spokesperson confirmed with NBC Chicago. The company plans to move their distribution operations to Tennessee, but said a timeline has not yet been set.

“Tours continue per usual and we have a full schedule of summer activities planned,” spokesperson Jana Sanders Perry said in a statement.

The 25 employees of the warehouse and several part-time workers were reportedly informed of the news Monday.

The company, formerly known as Goelitz Confectionary Company, was originally founded in 1869 in Belleville, Illinois. The facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin opened for tours in 2001.

The candy company most recently made headlines last August when it eliminated 70 jobs from its North Chicago factory and moved production to Fairfield, California. The facility continues to make candy, however, and is responsible for "contract manufacturing."

<![CDATA[Yelp Opens New Chicago Office in Merchandise Mart ]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:22:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Yelp+Generic+Screengrab.jpg

Popular business review site Yelp will open its new Chicago office in the city's Merchandise Mart Thursday.

Yelp announced plans to bring its new 60,000-square foot office to the Merchandise Mart last summer and said the company hopes to hire up to 400 people, mostly for sales positions.

"Yelp is an exciting company that has become globally recognized for supporting local business, the backbone of Chicago's economy, and we welcome them to the city," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Yelp chose Merchandise Mart because its location  -- given the proximity near the CTA train and the Chicago River -- may be good for commuters, local businesses and restaurants.

The San Francisco-based company currently has offices in New York; London; Hamburg, Germany; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Dublin, Ireland. Merchandise Mart also houses other tech companies like 1871 and Razorfish.

"Chicago’s history as a leader in innovation and supporter of small business and tech industry growth fits seamlessly with Yelp’s initiatives, and we are excited to build a home here with Yelp’s seventh office,” Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp's co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

The company had a monthly average of 138 million unique visitors in the 2014 second quarter.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday that Yelp has also partnered with Skills for Chicagoland's Future to find new employees for the Chicago location. 

“Yelp is a globally-recognized company and their decision to open a new Chicago office, creating hundreds of new jobs, speaks to the talent we have today and the economic future we are building for tomorrow,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

<![CDATA[Negotiation 101: Get the Most Out of a Tough Conversation]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:12:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/handshake_web.jpg

For most people, negotiations happen every day at work, and topics are often varied, covering a wide spectrum – not just at your annual review over salaries. But whether you’re the employer or the employee, negotiations can be difficult to navigate. Both parties seek a positive outcome without negatively impacting the relationship.

To set yourself up for a successful negotiation – one with an outcome that’s in your favor – brush up on your negotiating skills with these tips from Addison Group, a nationwide provider of staffing services.

Identify your wants and needs before walking into the meeting. What do you need to consider the meeting a success? Get an idea of the outcome you’d like from a meeting and then reverse engineer your approach. Enter negotiations in a non-emotional way. You can meet your objective and leave the negotiation feeling like both parties won even in difficult negotiations.
Do your research. Preparation for the negotiation is crucial. For example, if you’re focused on negotiating salary, find out the salary ranges of other people in similar roles in your area. Websites like salary.com is a good place to start. It’s also important to know the cost of living in the area, especially if you’re moving to a new location. This should be reflected in the salary. Consider requesting relocation assistance if necessary. In non-salary issues doing your homework is equally as important- know the facts and approach a meeting without emotion.
Listen. Ensure that the conversation is a dialogue. While one party certainly can lead the discussion, they should avoid dominating the conversation. It can put you at a disadvantage if the other party feels like their input is not being heard. Negotiating takes collaboration, so it’s important to allow everyone to speak their mind. A great tip in negotiating is letting the other party know you are listening to them by restating their thoughts. For example, “If I hear you correctly, you would be supportive of (a raise/working on this project/my working at home) if I could (take on more responsibility/show that I have mastered the software/have a dedicated office and be available from 9-5).” By restating the other party's thoughts and concerns it shows you have listened and want an outcome that is mutually beneficial.
Stay positive. Unlike in an interview where the best practice is to reflect the posture, tone and other non-verbal cues your counterpart uses, in a negotiation, it’s best to maintain a positive attitude throughout the discussion. If the other party becomes defensive or aggressive, sustain a positive and calm demeanor.
Negotiation results. If negotiations go well both parties feel successful and the business relationship is strengthened. However, in the case where you did not achieve your desired outcome you need to ask yourself did the other party understand your view? If so, was the other party reasonable but perhaps did not have control to make changes? If the outcome was less than desirable and the other party was the barrier to a win-win situation you have to ask yourself how important is the issue and does the outcome warrant a next step and void of emotion make the best business decision.

Knowing how to negotiate your way to a successful outcome requires practice and preparation. But if done correctly, you might be surprised with the results! You’ll also be walking away with a valuable and powerful skill.

Bridget O’Connell is a Regional Vice President at Addison Group, a nationwide provider of professional staffing and search services. Bringing the best to the best, Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch. Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Administration & HR, Engineering, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, and Information Technology. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for both Client and Candidate service for the past four years. Learn more at www.addisongroup.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Local Media]]>
<![CDATA[Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago to Close]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:31:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/harpo2.jpg

Oprah Winfrey plans to close Harpo Studios in Chicago this year.

Winfrey announced the news Tuesday, laying out a timeline for the closing of her West Loop TV studios, where her iconic show was filmed.

“Harpo Studios in Chicago was not just my home but also my life for nearly 30 years," she said in a statement. "I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else. I am so proud of what we created. It has been a blessing in my life and I thank everyone who has been a part of this great run. I am now looking ahead to inhabiting the new space on The Lot in California and carrying on the legacy of Harpo Studios with OWN programming.”

Presidents of OWN and Harpo Studios, Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, said the studio should be closed in Chicago by December.

"We have been fortunate to have this spectacular city of Chicago as our home for over 25 years and are thankful to everybody who has been a part of this great company," the pair said in a statement.

Last March, Harpo Inc. announced it had entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay Cos. for the four-building campus on Chicago’s West Side.

"We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios campus in Chicago's West Loop," Harpo told Crain's in a statement at the time. "We expect the transaction to be closed in 30 days. The property will be leased back to Harpo for two years and the studio will continue to produce programming for OWN."

Winfrey first came to Chicago in 1984 to the morning talk show, "A.M. Chicago." A month later, the show was No. 1 in the market, and renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1985.

Winfrey moved to Harpo Studios in 1990 and is credited with transforming the once-gritty industrial area to a neighborhood filled with families and trendy restaurants.

Winfrey filmed "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at the studio from 1990 to 2011, when she ended the talk show to start her cable network.

In 2011, then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley named the street outside Harpo Studios "Oprah Winfrey Way."

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Chicagoans Make List of World's Billionaires in 2015]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:10:54 -0500 2015 Rank: #216
Net Worth: $6.5 billion
The Chicago resident began trading in his Harvard dorm room during the 1980s before founding the successful Chicago-based global hedge fund firm Citadel LLC. Griffin's local presence extends to philanthropic donations to institutions such as the Art Institute and a five-year term on the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees.]]>
2015 Rank: #216
Net Worth: $6.5 billion
The Chicago resident began trading in his Harvard dorm room during the 1980s before founding the successful Chicago-based global hedge fund firm Citadel LLC. Griffin's local presence extends to philanthropic donations to institutions such as the Art Institute and a five-year term on the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees.]]>
From Michael Jordan to the Pritzker family, here are billionaires with Chicago ties named to Forbes World's Billionaires List for 2015.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Doug's to Return to Chicago for One Day]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 19:50:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/doug+sohn.jpg

It has been nearly five months since the beloved Hot Doug’s closed its doors for good, ending an encased meat era in Chicago, but it appears the famed hot dog stand will return for one day, and one day only.

The Chicago Tribune reports Hot Doug’s owner Doug Sohn will serve his meaty sensations once again on May 16 for Paulina Meat Market’s Hot Doug’s Appreciation Day.

The Lakeview meat market at Lincoln and Cornelia avenues, which once produced a number of sausages for Sohn, will bring back their Hot Doug’s specialties and serve some of the sandwiches that made the former Avondale eatery a staple in Chicago.

Sohn told the Tribune he won’t be cooking the sandwiches, but will be “designing the sausage” and “chit-chatting” with guests.

For the diehard fans who once inked their Hot Doug’s love with a promise of free sandwiches for life, well, that offer apparently stands on this special day.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Social Reaction to Chargers-Raiders Stadium News]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 16:33:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+stadium+rendering+13.jpg

News that rival professional football teams the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are joining forces on a proposal that could have them share a Southern California stadium surprised many when it broke late Thursday.

By Friday, some players and officials had taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the plan to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California, if the teams' efforts to construct their own new venues in their respective hometowns fall through.

Here's a look at some of the reaction seen so far:  

Shareece Wright, starting cornerback for the Chargers tweeted: 

Kevin Faulconer, mayor of San Diego had a four part message to share: 

Shawne Merriman, former Chargers linebacker said: 

Corey Liuget, the defensive end of the Chargers said: 

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture
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<![CDATA[Elite Jumping Horses of Cuba ]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:32:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP247924812525_CubaHorses.jpg Already renowned for fine rum and fancy cigars, Cuba is carving out a new luxury niche that is attracting Latin American elites to the communist-run island: elite jumping horses.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Auctions Off Bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 04:02:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

A Big Mac may only cost a few dollars at McDonald’s, but when it comes to the fast food chain’s Big Mac Special Sauce, things get pricey fast. 

McDonald’s Australia has apparently decided to auction off the first of 200 bottles of their “legendary” sauce on eBay and bidders are emptying more than just their pockets for a chance to purchase the limited-edition bottle.

“For too long Big Mac Special Sauce has been trapped in a beautiful, delicious burger – now we’ve set it free!” the auction page states. “This bottle is #1 of only 200 being produced worldwide, and they won’t be sold in restaurants.”

By Tuesday morning bids had reached nearly $18,000 with more than seven days left to bid.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, 135 bids had been placed for the 500-milliliter bottle, the highest being $23,100 (AU).

The world’s largest hamburger chain said 100 percent of the auction sale price will go to the Australian branch of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Boeing 747-8 Picked as Next Platform for Air Force One]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:50:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/020810+Boeing+1.jpg

An aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing was once again selected to fly the President of the United States.

Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, said a Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One.

"The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States. The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States when fully missionized meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest," James said in a statement.

Research determined that only two four-engine platforms meet the requirements for Air Force One—the Boeing 747-8 and the A380, manufactured by Airbus in Toulouse, France.

Officials say modifications will need to be made to the aircraft before it can serve as Air Force One, a process that will likely also fall in the hands of Boeing.

"This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft," Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager, said in a statement. "We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost."

The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to allow competition for "sustainment throughout the aircraft's planned 30-year life cycle," a release from James’ office said.

"The current fleet of VC-25 presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the Airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft," James said. "Yet, it is time to upgrade. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded."

The release said affordability will be a key part of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program.

"The program will use multiple strategies, such as the use of proven technologies and commercially certified equipment, to ensure the program is as affordable as possible while still meeting mission requirements." James said. "We will insist upon program affordability through cost conscious procurement practices."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Frank Meats Patty Opens in Former Hot Doug's Home]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:54:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/frank+meats+patty+sign.jpg

Friday marks the day when the former home of famed encased meat eatery Hot Doug’s officially becomes Frank Meats Patty.

The new restaurant, which offered free food to its first 20 customers Friday morning, looks to give meat eaters an entirely new experience.

Frank Meats Patty is owned by the group behind Fatso’s Last Stand and Lockdown Bar & Grill, and judging by their menu, will likely aim to be a more traditional burger and hot dog locale, shifting away from the wild ingredient-filled meals, extremely long lines and unusual hours boasted by their Avondale predecessor.

But traditional shouldn’t be confused with boring.

In their menu posted online, the restaurant offers meals ranging from Single Fatso burgers to the “Ooey Gooey” burger, Char Cheddar Dogs, a Shrimp Po’ Boy, a game burger of the month (this month’s is a buffalo sausage burger with pepper jack) and more.

The restaurant also showed off on social media a new Duck Foie Gras sausage burger with caramelized onions, truffle mustard, roasted shallots, cherries and Foie mousse. Need we say more?

The transition may officially mark the end of an encased meat-eating era at California and Roscoe, but it also looks to be the start of a new meat age.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com
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<![CDATA[Target Launches New Plus-Size Clothing Line]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:51:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/240*120/AVA+VIV+Header.jpg

Target has announced plans to unveil a new clothing line designed specifically for plus-size women.

The line, expected to arrive in mid-February, was designed by Target's in-house design team and features "stylish basics along with trend-driven statement pieces that fashionistas will love," the company said in a release Wednesday.

Similar to Target’s other apparel line, the new AVA & VIV clothing will be updated monthly, with prices ranging from $10 to $79.99.

“Target is synonymous with great design, and with the launch of AVA & VIV, we’re stepping up our fashion game for our Plus-size guests,” Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of merchandising, apparel and accessories at Target said in a statement. “From stylish original prints to the attention to detail and fit, this line is meant to impress and we can’t wait to share it with our guests.”

As part of their latest line launch, the Minneapolis-based retailer enlisted the help of a blogger who once called for a boycott of the company. Chastity Garner, along with fellow plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, were hired to help promote the line and give feedback on the newest collection.

Last August, Garner announced she was boycotting Target after the company released their Altuzarra for Target collection.

"Year after year, season after season, you put out these gorgeous designer collections and you almost never include a plus range. Every time each of these collections is about to be released it feels like a slap in the face," Garner wrote. “You may ask, ‘Is there any way I will take you back?’ I will take you back, when and only when, you include true plus sizes in your designer range collaborations. Until then, I will take my money elsewhere."

The line will be available on Target.com on Feb. 22 and will arrive in stores mid-February through March, the company said.

Photo Credit: Target
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Workers File Civil Rights Lawsuit]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:11:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/mcdonalds-sign1.JPG

Several McDonald’s workers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the company Thursday alleging a “widespread pattern of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment” at some stores.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia by 10 former employees, claims the company last May simultaneously fired more than a dozen black workers from three Virginia stores who “didn’t fit the profile” desired at its restaurants.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” plaintiff Willie Betts, who was a cook at one of the McDonald’s, said in a statement. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. I worked at McDonald’s for almost five years, I was on time every day at four o’clock in the morning to open the store, and I never had a disciplinary write-up. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family.”

The complaint claims highest-ranking supervisors regularly called one of the locations the “ghetto store,” referred to black workers as “ghetto” and “ratchet,” and disciplined them for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white workers. One supervisor allegedly touched female workers on their legs and buttocks, discussed sexual activities with female workers and offered better working conditions in exchange for sexual favors, according to the complaint.

It further alleges that the McDonald’s Corp. representative who conducted regular inspection visits at the stores had learned of the terminations soon after they occurred on May 12, but took no action. The stores were located in Clarkesville and South Boston, according to the suit.

“We asked McDonald’s corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee – the same franchisee that just fired us,” plaintiff Pamela Marable said in a statement. “McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags – but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem.”

Several workers say they contacted their local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last year to report the harassment and discrimination.

“The treatment of these McDonald’s workers seems like it’s out of another era, but sadly the racism is a reality they are confronting today,” Rev. Kevin Chandler, president of the South Boston Chapter of the NAACP and Vice President of the NAACP Virginia State Conference, said in a statement. “The South Boston NAACP will stand with these fired workers until McDonald’s takes responsibility for the inhumane treatment these workers faced in its stores.”

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s said it has not seen the lawsuit and “cannot comment on its allegations, but will review the matter carefully.”

“McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent Franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values,” the company said in a statement. “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

The complaint filed Thursday brings harassment and discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Section 1981.

“This is a problem that goes far beyond these stores in Virginia – it’s a problem with McDonald’s business model itself when workers at the company have nowhere to turn,” Kendall Fells, Organizing Director of Fast Food Forward, said in a statement. “McDonald’s has the power to fix this problem, but instead it chooses to skirt its responsibility and hide behind its franchise model.”

In response to the suit, the Fight for $15 movement launched a toll-free national hotline Thursday for McDonald’s workers across the country to report alleged incidences of harassment and abuse at their workplace. Workers can report the incidents by calling (855) 729-2869.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Gas Prices Falling Below $2]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:36:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gas-prices-461831632.jpg

Falling gas prices could drop even lower in the week ahead, with the national average dipping below $2 a gallon, according to one group that tracks prices at the pump.

But those planning a road trip may want to fill up their tanks fast, as the low prices are expect to drive away in the coming weeks.

The national average for gas prices, currently at $2.05 a gallon, is expected to drop to no lower than $1.95 a gallon by next week, the website GasBuddy said Wednesday. Prices have not fallen this low since March 25, 2009, the group said. Prices at more than 50 percent of gas stations in the United States have already hit the $2-or-less mark, Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, said in a statement.

However, as the weather starts to get warmer and people start to travel and spend more time outside, demand for gas will also start to pick up by early February, increasing gas prices, analysts say. In February, gas prices should rise 30 to 50 cents per gallon due to the increase in demand.

Nevertheless gas prices are expected to remain much less expensive than in recent years, where prices were close to $4 a gallon as opposed to the coming months where prices will be closer to $3 a gallon. 

"We should start to see the national average bottom and stabilize in the coming days or weeks, but not months," according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said in an interview.

Michael Green, Manager at AAA Public Relations identified two main contributing factors to the declining prices at the pump— an economic slow down and an oil game with Saudi Arabia.

The slow economic growth in Asian countries like China, Japan and in Europe, especially now with talks of Greece leaving the Euro Zone, means that the demand is weak in those countries, while the supply continues to remain high in North America, Green said.

He also said one goal of oil-producing  countries within the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, may be to create a situation where oil drops so much that U.S. production of oil will decline so that it will no longer be profitable to produce oil in America. Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest member, is hoping to regain the market share that they’ve lost, he said.

“Currently, there is more supply than there is demand so prices are low. In past years there has been more demand than supply,” Green said. “Since last April gas prices have been declining for a record 118 days in a row, which is the longest streak of daily consecutive declines.”

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How McDonald's Fries Are Made]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:27:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-fries.jpg

If you were wondering how McDonald’s fries are made, or what they’re made of, you’re not alone.

As the world’s largest hamburger chain tries to shed its reputation of being “junk food,” the company released a video showing the process behind the making of their popular French fries, with the help of Mythbusters' Grant Imahara.

The YouTube video is the latest in a series of videos as part of the Oak Brook-based chain's recently launched marketing campaign to address common questions about its food, such as whether the beef has worms (the company's answer: "No. Gross! End of story.")

Last month, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres outlined improvements the company is working on, including the simplification of ingredient labels. Without providing details, he said to expect some changes in early 2015. The remarks came after the company reported a 4.6 percent decline in U.S. sales for November, capping two years of struggling performance.

"Why do we need to have preservatives in our food?" Andres asked, noting McDonald's restaurants go through supplies quickly. "We probably don't."

Andres said McDonald's is looking at different cooking and holding procedures to enhance the appeal of its core items, as well as shrinking the number of ingredients it uses. He noted McDonald's restaurants go through supplies quickly, meaning it may be a relatively easy task.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Plans for Woodfield Mall Renovation Revealed]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:39:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010660720_1200x675_386627139956.jpg Officials on Tuesday revealed plans for a major renovation at Woodfield Mall this year.]]> <![CDATA[Plans for Woodfield Mall Renovation Revealed]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:39:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/woodfield+mall+rendering.jpg

Officials on Tuesday revealed plans for a major renovation at Woodfield Mall this year.

The nearly $14 million project, dubbed a “style evolution,” looks to give the mall modern updates and improve traffic flow for retailers and customers, according to the developer Audrey Thompson, regional vice president at Simon Malls.

“It was important for us to maintain Woodfield’s unique environment,” Thompson said.

The renovation plans include replacing much of the mall’s brick features, particularly those in Center Court, adding an elevator and replacing two existing elevators, adding two escalators, and revamping the seating areas throughout the mall.

“It will be a complete update of the center,” Thompson said. “It will improve the visibility for our tenants. It will also greatly enhance the traffic and flow for our customers and visitors.”

Thompson also noted that the renovation will include new signage for shoppers, flooring replacements and other “aesthetically pleasing finishes.”

The changes are expected to be made this year, but the mall plans to remained open during construction, said General Manager David Gott.

"We’re pretty excited because what we’re talking about today is the continuing evolution of Woodfield Mall," Gott said. "This style evolution that we’re talking about here isn’t just good news for the customers, it’s good news for the local economy."

The mall currently features nearly 300 stores and restaurants, according to its website.

The mall’s last renovation was reportedly 20 years ago, when 50 stores were added, including a three-story Nordstrom.

Last month, officials announced plans to add a Pac-Man inspired restaurant.

“Woodfield mall is the hub of our downtown,” said Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson. “We are viewed as a downtown of the northwest suburbs.”

<![CDATA[Target to Shut Down Stores in Canada]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:02:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/453903966.jpg

Target is shutting down in Canada.

Target Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said Thursday that the company was unable to find a realistic scenario in which the 133-store Target Canada would become profitable before at least 2021. It is Cornell's first major move since becoming CEO in August.

Cornell, who's been tasked with maintaining the retailer's momentum and reclaiming its image as a purveyor of cheap chic fashions and home decor, said it was a difficult decision "but it was the right decision for our company."

"We have determined that it is in the best interest of our business and our shareholders to exit the Canadian market and focus on driving growth and building further momentum in our U.S. business," he added.

Cornell said Target Canada worked hard to fix its operations and improve its relationship with customers, but that it didn't see the changes it was looking for over the holiday period.

Target entered Canada in 2013. While operations there improved before the holiday season due to changes in pricing and product assortment, Target still wasn't satisfied with its performance.

Target faced problems from the get go when it entered Canada. There are costly regulations, a slow economy and increasing competition. Its experience in Canada hasn't been unique, though. Big Lots Inc. and Best Buy Co. have shuttered stores there and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has seen its sales in Canada weaken.

The retailer said Thursday that it anticipates approximately $5.4 billion in fourth-quarter losses from discontinued operations in Canada. It foresees about $275 million of losses on discontinued operations in fiscal 2015.

Target expects cash costs for the exit to be between $500 million and $600 million, with most of those costs taking place in fiscal 2015 or later. The retailer said that it has sufficient resources to fund the expected costs.

Target Corp. currently has 17,600 employees at its 133 Canadian stores. It has 1,801 stores in the U.S.

The company said that it is seeking court approval to voluntarily make about $59 million in cash contributions into an employee trust. Once approved by the court, the proposed trust would give almost all of Target's Canada workers a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation, including wages and benefits coverage for employees not needed for the entire winding down of the business.

Target Canada stores will stay open during liquidation.

Target Corp. anticipates its exit from the Canada market will increase its earnings in fiscal 2015 and beyond and boost its cash flow in fiscal 2016 and beyond.

Target also announced that it now foresees fourth-quarter sales at U.S. stores open at least a year up about 3 percent. Its previous outlook was for an approximately 2 percent increase. The chain said its raised forecast was due to its performance for the holiday period including November and December. The Minneapolis company said that it had higher traffic and better-than-expected online sales during the period.

Sales at stores open at least a year is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Target anticipates fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.43 to $1.47 per share.

The company's stock gained $4.21, or 5.7 percent, to $78.54 before the market open.

Photo Credit: Lucas Oleniuk/ Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cadbury Changes Recipe for Creme Egg, Outrages Fans]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:45:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/484044769.jpg

Cadbury Creme Egg fans received some rotten news this week.

Cadbury, owned by Illinois-based Kraft, has changed its recipe for the Creme Eggs and will no longer use its signature Dairy Milk chocolate for the treats' shells.

The gooey chocolate treats, long considered an Easter candy staple, will now be made with “a standard, traditional Cadbury milk chocolate,” a spokeswoman for Kraft's Mondelez International said in a statement.

“The fundamentals of the Cadbury Creme Egg remain exactly the same – delicious milk chocolate and the unique crème centre that consumers love,” the statement read. “We have always used a range of milk chocolate blends for different products, depending on their shape or consistency.”

The change, which only applies to Cadbury eggs in the United Kingdom, sparked outrage from fans of the iconic candy.

“The product that Americans know and love and can find this time of year has not changed,” said Anna LIngeris, a spokeswoman for The Hershey Company, which manufacturers and distributes Cadbury products in the United States.

According to Cadbury’s website, the company makes about 500 million creme eggs a year, nearly two-thirds of which are consumed in the UK.

The recipe change is not the first upset for lovers of the “yolk-filled” chocolate candy, as it comes shortly after news that packages would now come with only five eggs instead of six.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Local Company Chosen as Dessert Sponsor for Golden Globes]]> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 19:34:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010522271_1200x675_382564419630.jpg A suburban company was chosen as one of the dessert sponsors for the Golden Globes. LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Major Renovation Planned for Woodfield Mall]]> Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:35:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/woodfield_mall_black_friday.jpg

Woodfield Mall is expected to undergo a major renovation this year.

According to reports, the suburban shopping center has applied for a construction permit for the project, which is estimated to cost at least $13.8 million.

The Chicago Tribune reports details surrounding the renovations aren’t being released yet, but the plans will be unveiled at a private breakfast on Jan. 20.

The intended upgrade is slotted to take place in 2015, but likely won’t include an addition or amusement park-type amenities, the Tribune reported.

The mall currently features nearly 300 stores and restaurants, according to its website.

The mall’s last renovation was reportedly 20 years ago, when 50 stores were added, including a three-story Nordstrom.

Last month, officials announced plans to add a Pac-Man inspired restaurant.

Photo Credit: WMAQ]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Bank Rolls Out Smartphone ATMs]]> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 15:02:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/atm-keyboard-generic-0716.jpg

Say goodbye to ATM cards and hello to your smartphone.

Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial started 2015 off with a technology statement, rolling out 190 “cardless cash” ATMs that allow customers to withdraw cash with their smartphones, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The machines will use software from FIS, a technology provider, to make the transactions possible.

According to the Tribune, customers can use their mobile app to set how much money they want to withdraw from an ATM. Once at the ATM, they sign into the app on their phone using a four-digit password, select the cardless cash option, which will open their camera and take a photo of a QR code on the ATM. Once they snap the photo, they then submit it to the app and the ATM will dispense their cash and send a receipt to their device.

In total, the process reportedly takes about 10 seconds to complete.

The new technology started for Wintrust customers at 29 machines, including one at the Madison Street branch in Chicago’s Loop, on Nov. 24 and is set to go live at all 190 ATMs by the end of February.

Experts tout the move as the future of banking. Mercator Advisory Group states in its “2015 Outlook: Banking Channels” report that they expect “increasing convergence of ATMS and mobile banking.”

BMO Harris Bank has also been testing the mobile cash technology with its employees and plans to begin using it with customers in the first quarter of 2015, the Tribune reports.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>