<![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 Tue, 07 Jul 2015 06:25:05 -0500 Tue, 07 Jul 2015 06:25:05 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[What You Could be Doing to Keep Yourself From a Promotion]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:08:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/87552094.jpg Do you find yourself questioning why you haven't gotten a promotion lately? A recent study from CareerBuilder sheds light on the physical and behavioral factors that can hurt your chances at getting a raise.

Photo Credit: www.jupiterimages.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago 'Cloud Tax' Adds Cost to Streaming Services]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:51:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Netflix-Logo.jpg

Chicagoans paying to stream movies, TV shows and music from sites like Netflix or Spotify will now be charged a so-called “Cloud tax” to use the services.

A 9 percent tax will be added to the streaming services in the city under June rulings by the city Finance Department.

The rulings, which took effect July 1, cover an “amusement tax” in the city and a “personal property lease transaction” tax and extend the city’s tax laws to certain online services.

The amusement tax allows for the taxing of charges paid “for the privilege” of watching, listening or playing electronically delivered movies, music or games.

The tax does not apply to the sale or permanent download of shows, movies, videos, music or games, but instead applies to rentals or “temporary” streaming options.

The personal property lease tax covers the use of databases for everything from real estate listings to car prices to stock prices.

The rulings apply to both residents and businesses.

A spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune the rulings “are consistent with the City’s current tax laws and are not an expansion of the laws.” She also said that “in an environment in which technologies and emerging industries evolve quickly” such rulings are often needed to “clarify the application of existing laws.”

The move has sparked debate among some businesses and officials in the city.

“As these two rulings demonstrate, bad times make for bad tax administration,” Michael Wynne, a partner and attorney at the Reed Smith law firm’s Chicago office wrote on the company’s website. “With these two rulings, the Department has expanded the scope of its tax ordinances to their absolute limit, if not further. If any state or local governments were wondering how to tax transactions occurring in the Cloud when legislative authority for such taxation is absent, the Department has just sketched a roadmap.”

Spotify and Netflix could not immediately be reached for comment.  

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect in Chicago]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:58:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/minimum-wage-cash.jpg

Minimum wage employees in Chicago will begin earning $10 an hour Wednesday as the first part of a yearly incremental minimum wage increase takes effect in the city.

The $1.75 hourly bump is part of a plan aimed at raising the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour by 2019.

Wednesday’s pay hike brings the minimum wage in Chicago up from Illinois' $8.25 rate, which is already $1 higher than the federal rate. After that, the wage will go up by 50 cents in 2016 and 2017, and by $1 in 2018 and 2019. City officials estimate more than 400,000 Chicago workers will benefit.

The plan was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council in December.

Chicago is the latest major city to give minimum wage employees a raise. Last year, Seattle officials approved a phased-in $15 wage. In California, San Francisco voters approved a $15 in November, while Oakland OK'd an increase to $12.25.

<![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[What's Going on in Greece? And How It Affects You]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:59:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_lv50tweb_1500x845.jpg Monday's stock slide has investors nervously awaiting Tuesday's opening bell amid the Greek Crisis and an emerging crisis in Puerto Rico.]]> <![CDATA[Mariano's Opens Largest Store Yet in Chicago Area]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:39:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/mariano%27s+glenview+west.jpg

Mariano’s will open its largest store to date in the Chicago area Tuesday.

Mariano’s Glenview West, a 90,602-square-foot supermarket, will be the Midwest grocer’s 32nd location and the biggest so far in the Chicago area.

The new location will feature many “firsts” for the chain, including a cheese cellar, a full bar of vegan, raw vegan and vegetarian foods, and a Curation Center, which will showcase “artisanal products from around the globe.”

Though the store is called Glenview West, it actually has a Northbrook address: 2323 Capital Dr.

The store will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.  

Photo Credit: Sky 5/NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Supersize Quarter Pounders: Report]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:14:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/McDonald%27s+Quarter+Pounder+with+Cheese.jpg

McDonald’s is reportedly beefing up its quarter pounder.

The world’s largest hamburger chain could roll out a supersized quarter-pounder patty within the next month, CNBC, citing an internal document, reports.

The new patty is expected to weigh 4.25 ounces before cooking and will be shaped differently. The current patty weighs 4 ounces before cooking, according to McDonald’s’ Twitter

CNBC reports that the change is intended to improve the “taste, texture and appearance of the burgers” and will result in a “juicier and more flavorful burger.”

The Oak Brook-based chain would not comment on the news, but said in a statement that more details would be shared soon.

"As CEO Steve Easterbrook has shared, we’re always innovating around McDonald’s food, drinks and restaurant experience based on customers’ preferences, and that includes hotter food and reviewing cooking procedures, and we’ll share more details soon," the statement read.

The move comes just months after beef prices reached record highs and less than two weeks after the burger chain revealed plans to shrink its number of U.S. restaurants for the first time in more than 40 years. 

Photo Credit: McDonald's]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Debuts New Pork Sandwich]]> Sat, 27 Jun 2015 19:51:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/happy+meal+new.jpg

McDonald’s has a new pork item on its menu.

The world’s largest hamburger chain has debuted a new pulled pork sandwich in at least one Midwest market.

The McDonald’s of Northern Indiana, which operates in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan, tweeted about the news Wednesday.

The new sandwich joins the McRib as another pork option on the Oak Brook-based chain’s menu.

It’s not clear how many restaurants will offer the new sandwich or how long it will be on the menu. McDonald’s could not immediately be reached for comment.  

Wendy's and Burger King also sell pulled pork sandwiches, CNBC notes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[8 New Krispy Kreme Locations to Open in Chicago Area]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:44:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/453817299.jpg

Chicago's doughnut scene is about to expand, with the addition of eight new Krispy Kreme locations. 

Throughout the next few years, Krispy Kreme will open the new locations in the downtown area of Chicago as well as "throughout Cook County," the doughnut chain announced Tuesday. The exact locations have not yet been released.

Krispy Kreme used to operate several doughnut shops in the Chicago area, but all of them have since closed except one location in Elk Grove Village. Despite the previous closings, however, Krispy Kreme officials indicated that Chicago wants them back.

“There’s a high demand for Krispy Kreme in the greater Chicagoland area,” said Patricia Perry, Krispy Kreme’s Vice President, US Franchise Development.

The doughnut company signed a development agreement with Chicagoland Restaurants, LLC, to build the eight new shops.

Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937 and now has more than 1,000 doughnut shops in 24 countries

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Unveils Bike-Friendly Drive-Thru Packaging]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:14:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+drive+thru.jpg

McDonald's has launched yet another campaign in the hopes of rescuing its unhealthy image and boosting sales after continual slumps.

The Oakbrook-based fast food chain has unleashed its new packaging for cyclists ordering Big Macs at the drive-thru. The McBike is packaged so cyclists can hang it on their handlebars without spilling anything, even a soft drink. 

The new packaging was designed by the ad agency Tribal Buenos Aires in Argentina. It was first launched in Copenhagen, Denmark, and then in Medellin, Colombia. According to Tribal Buenos Aires, the McBike will next hit Amsterdam and Tokyo. No word yet on when or if it will make it to drive-thrus in the U.S.

The new packaging is one of McDonald's many recent attempts to increase sales. In March, the fast food company cut the use of antibiotics in its chicken products after backlash from customers about the safety of their food.

Not all changes are meant to shed the company's old image, however. In January, McDonald's started a new ad campaign to bring back the "lovin'" in its "I'm Lovin' It" slogan. 

In the U.S., the company has struggled to regain its former dominance of the fast food industry. Last week, the Associated Press reported that Mcdonald's was shrinking in the U.S. for the first in its history, as more restaurants were set to close than to open this year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Shrink in US For 1st Time in Decades]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 07:15:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/185*120/53038460.jpg

The burger chain that put "supersize" into the American vernacular is slimming down: For the first time in more than 40 years, and perhaps ever, McDonald's says the number of U.S. restaurants it has will shrink.

McDonald's plans to close more restaurants in the U.S. than it opens this year, according to the world's biggest hamburger chain. That hasn't happened since at least 1970, according to an Associated Press review of McDonald's regulatory filings.

Becca Hary, a McDonald's spokeswoman, declined to provide a specific figure but said the reduction would be "minimal" compared with its total of about 14,300 U.S. locations.

Still, the contraction is symbolic of troubles under the Golden Arches and how it's trying to regroup.

The company enjoyed rapid expansion for much of its history by offering consistent food at affordable prices. It even thrived during the recession, when its Dollar Menu drew in people trying to save money and new products like McCafe coffee drove up sales.

But since then, chains like Chipotle that market themselves as serving better food and ingredients have chipped away at McDonald's dominance. A new breed of "better burger" chains such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries is taking away customers, too.

McDonald's past success led to "a natural overconfidence," said John Gordon, a restaurant industry analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group.

"McDonald's is such an internally focused organization, it's a situation where you don't have a fresh perspective coming in," Gordon said.

McDonald's executives have also conceded that an overly complicated menu led to inaccurate orders and longer wait times, and that they failed to keep pace with changing tastes.


In April, McDonald's said it would close about 700 underperforming locations around the world this year, including in the U.S. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role on March 1, also later laid out plans to restructure the company to remove layers of bureaucracy and move more nimbly.

In any given year, some underperforming McDonald's restaurants will close. But previously, the number of closings has been outweighed by new restaurants that open.

The U.S. store closings will be a mix of franchised and company-owned locations, Hary said. She noted that the closings are part of a strategic review intended to set the stage for the future growth. The company did not provide a list of locations expected to close.

McDonald's Corp. has not reported an annual reduction in U.S. locations since at least 1970, according to archived filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For 1969, McDonald's did not include a U.S. store count in its annual report.

The company declined to comment on the last time it reduced its U.S. store base. But given the rapid expansion that characterized its early years, it's likely McDonald's hadn't pulled back since Ray Kroc founded the company in 1955.


Closing weak stores isn't unusual for companies trying to turn around their fortunes. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shuttered hundreds of U.S. cafes after returning to head the company in 2008. Since then, the coffee chain has enjoyed healthy sales growth and expanded its footprint.

Mike Donahue, who served as McDonald's chief communications officer before leaving in 2006, said McDonald's hasn't necessarily reached its limit in the U.S.

"The only thing that stops growth is relevancy to the customer," said Donahue, who has since co-founded Lyfe Kitchen, a chain that positions itself as serving more wholesome food.

Even though it's closing locations, McDonald's easily remains the country's biggest hamburger chain. It still has more than twice as many restaurants as No. 2 Burger King, according to the industry tracker Technomic.

Among all fast-food chains, Subway has the most locations in the country with about 27,000 stores, though they do far less business than the typical McDonald's.

And McDonald's is still growing globally. It plans to add about 300 restaurants to its worldwide total of more than 36,000.

Donahue said that people were saying decades ago that McDonald's had reached its saturation point in the U.S. But within the company, he said there was always confidence that there was room to expand.

Even when McDonald's closed underperforming stores in the past, he said it would open new restaurants in better locations. The closings this year appear to be a way to strengthen its base of stores, he said.

"What they're doing is pruning the tree," he said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Adds Limited-Time Offers to Chicago Menus]]> Fri, 12 Jun 2015 09:48:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/green+apple+smoothie+mcds.jpg

McDonald’s has reportedly added two limited-time offers to its Chicago menus.

The world’s largest hamburger chain has added a Green Apple Smoothie and a Bacon & White Cheddar McMuffin to some menus and the items will be available at stores in Chicago.

The smoothie, which is made with fruit, yogurt and ice, will cost $2 for a small.

"Consumers are seeking more real & fresh options, and summer is a key time-frame for ice blended beverages," a McDonald's spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Bacon & White Cheddar McMuffin replaces the Canadian bacon and American cheese on the fast food restaurant’s popular Egg McMuffin with applewood-smoked bacon and white cheddar. The new item costs $3.50 with a small coffee.

The news comes after McDonald’s announced plans to revamp their drive-through offerings and even added kale to its breakfast menu. It also comes as the company works to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

Last month, CEO Steve Easterbrook revealed plans to turn around the fast food chain’s struggling business.

Other chains have also announced new items to their menus recently, with Pizza Hut debuting a hot dog-stuffed crust pizza and Starbucks releasing six new, limited-time Frappuccino flavors.

Photo Credit: McDonald's]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Want Bouncer at Booze-Infused Taco Bell]]> Thu, 04 Jun 2015 22:36:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wicker-park-taco-bell-3.jpg

A Crunchy Taco Supreme and a Corona may sound like a fine idea to many, but for others who live and work near an upcoming Taco Bell that hopes to serve alcohol, limitations are in order.

The new location, at 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave., plans to open this summer with beer, wine and mixed alcohol drinks on the menu. The franchisee has applied for a liquor license, but city officials said Thursday that's not a done deal. And at a meeting for residents on Wednesday, some expressed more than a little concern.

Maritza Gomez works at a cleaners across the street from the new location, which is also nestled among other bars and restaurants. While it sounds like good business, a bouncer at the new concept spot could be the perfect supplement, she said.

"I think it definitely would help if they're actually asking for IDs," she said. 

The location is a short walk to a handful of higher-end taco joints like Antique Taco, which also serves alcohol. No extra security is there. Three blocks away, at Big Star, security comes with the much larger crowd.

The new Taco Bell would have fewer than 60 seats and could serve alcohol until 2 a.m., if the license is approved.

"Our franchisee is ensuring that alcohol is served responsibly by requiring that all team members be trained to National Restaurant Association Guidelines and by hiring a third party secret shopper vendor to monitor alcohol sales,"  company spokeswoman Ashley Sioson told NBC Chicago. "Alcohol consumption will be restricted to inside the restaurant, and a new cup design will distinguish between non-alcohol and regular beverages."

<![CDATA[Chipotle Testing New Menu Item: Chorizo]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 09:09:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP429928785604.jpg

Chipotle Mexican Grill will reportedly test a new menu item at one of its markets—chorizo.

The fast-casual restaurant chain will test the sausage, made with ground chicken and pork, beginning Tuesday at 33 locations in Kansas City, the Kansas City Star reported.

It appears Chicagoans won’t be able to get the option just yet, as Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told the paper there are currently no plans to bring chorizo to other markets.

The company has previously tested chorizo at New York airport locations as a breakfast menu option, the publication reports.

Earlier this year, the Mexican food chain said it would stop serving pork at a third of its U.S. restaurants after a routine audit discovered one of its suppliers was not complying with its animal-welfare standards.

Last fall, the company tested a vegan topping called Sofritas

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lilly Pulitzer Store Coming to Chicago Suburb]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:09:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/201*120/Lilly-Pulitzer-King-of-Prussia.jpg

Lilly Pulitzer will reportedly open a new shop in Oakbrook Center mall.

The chic beach clothing shop will be the first company-owned store in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tribune reports.

A spokesperson for the resort wear company told the Tribune the store will be painted by one of their print designers and will be decorated with bright prints and colors.

Lilly Pulitzer could not immediately confirm when the store would open. A spokesperson told NBCChicago the "dates have not yet been released."

Lilly Pulitzer most recently made headlines with a limited-edition line for Target, which drew huge crowds and sold out within minutes in stores and online.

The first boutique opened in the 1960s in Palm Beach and the line later became known as a shift dress staple.

The new summer 2015 collection features the signature Lilly Pulitzer patterns and bright colors, with items ranging from $30 to nearly $300.

Photo Credit: The Feast/Julie Davis]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts to Release Chips Ahoy Doughnut]]> Fri, 29 May 2015 08:47:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012618436_1200x675_453890115907.jpg Dunkin' Donuts' newest creation is topped with cookie crumbles, and filled with business strategy.]]> <![CDATA[Mirabell Restaurant to Stay Open in Chicago]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:41:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/236*120/mirabell.jpg

A popular German restaurant in Chicago that announced it would close earlier this month after 38 years in business will now stay open after an overwhelming public response, the restaurant’s owner said.

“We have new hours and downsized the menu to accommodate our loyal customers,” Jeff Heil, owner of the restaurant, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled, what I have enjoyed most over the past few weeks is hearing everybody talk about their favorite Mirabell memories.”

While the restaurant will remain open, it will likely be with new owners. Heil plans to still pursue his original plan to move to Texas and start a new restaurant there.

“It’s time to pass the ‘beer stein’ to the next potential owners,” Heil said. “Someone to be the ‘New Steward’ of Mirabell and to continue the tradition.”

The restaurant, located at 3554 W. Addison St. in Chicago, will now be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Cannabis Munchies on Display at Marijuana Trade Show in Chicago]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 11:35:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cannabis+chocolate.jpg

Cannabis lemonade. Cannabis honey. Even cannabis krispie treats -- bottled, packaged and labeled like any other products.

A few years ago, they could have landed you in prison.  But in Illinois, they’re about to become big business.

“When we first started in Colorado, there was no blueprint for this business,” said consultant Greg Gamet, walking the exhibit floor at Chicago’s Marijuana Business Conference and Expo. “We’ve seen real estate prices go from $50 a square foot, to $250 a square foot in three years.”

The conference is in Chicago for a reason. The state’s first medical marijuana licensees were confirmed in January, and product is expected to start flowing by year’s end.

“We’re hoping sometime in September or October,” said Edward Jauch, head of security for InGrown Farms, which is building a sprawling cultivation center near Freeport. “We came to this conference to support this industry.  It’s new, it’s up and coming, and we’re here to learn from other people.”

There is plenty to learn. From cultivation, to packaging, to security and transport, marijuana is one of the few businesses which Illinois residents will witness from the ground up.

And one of the biggest learning curves, involves money.

“Marijuana is only cash,” said David Ellerstein, CEO of Jane Systems. “There’s no Visa or Mastercard.”

Because trafficking in marijuana is still considered a federal crime, many banks believe processing the cash from medical marijuana businesses will expose them to money laundering charges with federal regulators. Finding a bank willing to handle the millions of dollars the business is expected to generate, could be challenging. Ellerstein’s firm offers a hardened kiosk machine, which handles the cash inside the dispensary, and controls the entire point-of-sale experience.

“We think this is something the regulators would embrace,” he said.

The exhibit halls of the Chicago Hilton and Towers were packed with vendors offering a glimpse of the world as it’s about to become in Illinois. From growing lights, to child-proof bags, to marijuana labeling systems and safes for the cash, it’s all here.

“We get to change people’s perceptions of what cannabis is,” said Marco Hoffman of VCC Brands.  “We take people and their preconceived notions, and knock down that wall.”

VCC produces marijuana edibles. Their “Cannabis Quencher” is a THC-infused lemonade. They also offer candies, olive oil, even rice-krispie treats, all carrying the active ingredient which gives marijuana its punch.

“This is the equivalent of six or seven beers,” Hoffman said, holding a bottle of his lemonade. “This is a THC delivery system. We extract the oils from the plant and infuse it into products that they don’t have to smoke or even eat.”

Hoffman has been in the business for 10 years and is considered one of the “graybeards” of the industry. He’s 40 years old. And because cannabis can’t be transported across state lines, all of his products have to be manufactured in the state where they’re sold. They would not be licensed, but would work with licensed growers here.

“We’d teach them how to extract and infuse it and how to make these brands, then they would become the distributor of these products in this state,” he said. “I am confident we are going to get into Illinois.”

By any measure, it’s a surreal experience to see exhibitors selling materials to legally cultivate a product which has put to many people behind bars. Perhaps Gamet, the Denver consultant, sums it up best.

“Financial institutions that wouldn’t even take our phone calls five years ago, are calling us now trying to lend us money in this industry.”

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Inc. Well]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 11:46:57 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[Protesters Deliver Petition of Demands to McDonald's]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 12:23:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fight-for-15---1.jpg

More than 1,000 “Fight for 15” protesters returned to McDonald's headquarters Thursday to rally for higher wages ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Demonstrators marched down streets outside the Oak Brook building and gathered in front of the main entrance, which was blocked off by police. The group — police estimated there were more than 1,000 — chanted "If we don't get it, shut it down" and "No burgers, no fries, make our paychecks supersize."

Protesters delivered a petition with more than one million signatures calling for the fast food giant to pay an hourly wage of $15. While police said the demonstrators weren't allowed in, a McDonald's representative did come out to receive the signatures. 

The rally comes just one day after hundreds of protesters swarmed the headquarters, prompting the company to close a nearby restaurant and building for traffic concerns.

Demonstrators from the "Fight for 15" organization, many of them members of the Service Employees International Union, came from cities such as New York City and Kansas City to be on hand for Wednesday's rally.

"We go to work every day. We slave. We sweat for $8.25," said Dominique Mack, who works at a McDonald's restaurant at West Roosevelt Road and Harlem Avenue in Chicago. "That can't take care of our kids. We got a house. We got bills we need to pay. Like every other worker that goes to work, we would like to get paid like everybody else."

The campaign for pay of $15 an hour and a union began in late 2012 and has involved a range of tactics, including ongoing demonstrations in cities around the country. Earlier this year, McDonald's said it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage. Labor organizers said the move falls short because it only applies to company-owned stores.

In addition to the wage increase, many of the workers on hand said they also want the opportunity to be represented by a union.

"Whether it's the eight-hour work day, paid sick days -- these are all things, living wages, that have been won by unions," said political activist Clem Balanoff.

McDonald's Corp. owns about 10 percent of its stores in the U.S., while the rest are run by franchisees.

The protests come as McDonald's fights to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals and changing tastes. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role in March, has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Thursday will mark his first shareholder meeting as CEO.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Marijuana Trade Show Hits Chicago]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 18:34:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-marijuana-expo-1.jpg The Marijuana Business Conference & Expo is billed as America's oldest and largest national tradeshow, and it's not open to the public. NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers offers a peek inside.]]> <![CDATA[Target Hiring For New Suburban Location]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 13:05:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/74250546.jpg

Target will host a public job fair to add 200 team members to their new suburban store.

The job fair will be held daily beginning on Wednesday, May 20 through Friday, May 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lake Bluff Recreation Center at 355 West Washington Avenue.

“During the event, store leaders will conduct pre-scheduled interviews with applicants and discuss Target’s dynamic, team-oriented culture,” the company said in a press release.

The 200 applicants hired will work at the new Target store at 975 Rockland Road in Lake Bluff that is slated to open in July.

Those interested are encouraged to visit Target.com/careers to apply in advance.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle's ShopHouse Coming to Chicago: Report]]> Tue, 19 May 2015 13:06:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/476810321.jpg

Chipotle’s Southeast-Asian fast-casual dining chain has made its way to Chicago.

ShopHouse will open doors in the Loop in the fall, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The company reportedly signed a lease for a space at 22-24 W. Jackson Boulevard.

ShopHouse, which first sprouted in 2011, intends to bring the food cultures of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore to the fast-casual dining scene. The company mirrors Chipotle’s model of serving sustainably sourced and non-GMO ingredients along with using responsibly raised animals and a menu that is gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free.

Similar to the build-your-own methods used by Chipotle, ShopHouse customers start with a bowl of rice, noodles or salad and then have the option to add a meat or tofu, one vegetable, a sauce and garnishes.

The Chicago shop will be the first in Illinois. The restaurant also has locations in California, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Releases New Hamburglar Video]]> Thu, 14 May 2015 09:05:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hamburglar-mcdonalds-today-150507-tease-split_d63e3575accfcacac791531fd3d1923b.today-inline-large.jpg

McDonald's infamous Hamburglar is back in action.

The Oak Brook-based fast food chain tweeted two new videos starring the new and improved Hamburglar, who has apparently spent the last decade going to youth soccer games and perfecting his stubble.

The company recently revealed plans to bring back the burger thief after a 13-year absence.

Last week, McDonald's Corp. tweeted a 30-second ad featuring the Hamburglar, his face unseen, flipping burgers in a suburban backyard with his wife and son. When he hears a radio ad for McDonald's new burgers, he drops his spatula in shock.

In April, McDonald's announced that it would introduce a trio of "Sirloin Third Pound" burgers for a limited time, the latest sign the chain is pushing to improve perceptions about the quality of its food. In last week's ad, those burgers lure the Hamburglar out of his quiet retirement.

Publicity photos revealed a grown man in a more fashionable version of the old costume, including a black trenchcoat and fedora with a yellow band. The previous version of the character appeared to be a mischievous child dressed in an old time black-and-white prisoner's uniform with a hat and cape.

Reactions to the new Hamburglar on social media have been mixed, with some claiming the new Hamburglar is attractive, while others ridiculed the new version of the burger burglar.

The world's largest hamburger chain gave Ronald McDonald a makeover last year and gave him an official Instagram account. Some observers described his new apparel, which included a bowtie and rugby shirt, as hipster-y.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Expand All-Day Breakfast Test]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 18:54:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MCDonalds-Breakfast-SanDiego.jpg

McDonald’s will reportedly expand its test of an all-day breakfast menu.

The breakfast test will expand to Nashville this summer, the company announced during a webcast with franchisees, the Wall Street Journal reports. They also revealed plans to shorten drive-through menus and release new, mid-priced menu options.

McDonald’s had been testing the all-day breakfast option at select restaurants in its San Diego market, the company confirmed to NBCChicago in March

"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 an earlier 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."

McDonald’s breakfast currently ends at 10:30 a.m. in most markets.

The reported move comes as CEO Steve Easterbrook revealed plans to turnaround the fast food chain’s struggling business. It also comes as the company works to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

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.

McDonald's did not immediately return NBCChicago's request for comment. 

<![CDATA[McDonald's Will No Longer Offer Full Menu at Drive-Through]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 09:30:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/178*120/56608152.jpg

You may no longer be able to peruse all of McDonald's menu items when ordering at the drive-through.

In a Monday webcast with franchisees, McDonald's executives unveiled plans to display only the fast-food giant's top-selling items on their drive-through menu boards, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The company hopes the new cut-back menus will speed up the ordering process with customers and in turn improve their quality of service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Although they plan to display much fewer items in the revamped drive-through offerings, they will be adding more to their "mid-price" tier of dishes — those in the $1.50 to $3 range.

The Journal reports that the move towards a simplified drive-through menu has been a long-awaited one for McDonald’s franchisees, who have for years complained that customers typically always choose from either the high-end or low-end items because they don’t have enough mid-tier meals to select from – and those premium items eat up a lot more manpower to make.

The franchisees hope the additional mid-price dishes and smaller menu will reduce the overall time spent creating some of the premium items such as the snack wraps and complex McCafe espresso drinks.

The plans are the latest move from new CEO Steve Easterbrook who has been given the undertaking of helming a massive turnaround plan after months of rapidly declining global sales.

<![CDATA[2015's Best and Worst Cities to Start a Career: Report]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 11:36:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+generic.jpg

Thousands of college graduates across the U.S. are preparing to start their careers post-graduation, but apparently, some cities are better than others when it comes to finding job success.

A new study from WalletHub ranked 2015’s best and worst cities to start a career and things don’t look too good for Chicagoans.

The city ranked among the 50 worst cities for recent grads searching for work.

Researchers looked at 19 key metrics to determine the strength of job markets in the 150 largest U.S. cities, including the number of entry-level positions per 10,000 residents, monthly median starting salary, job growth rate, economic mobility, workforce diversity, unemployment rate, percentage of population aged 25 to 34 and percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Other factors looked at in the report were strength of social ties, housing affordability, the number of arts, leisure and recreation establishments, and weather.

Chicago made the list at no. 105.

Among the best places to work were Irving, Texas; Grand Prairie, Texas; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Houston, Texas.

The worst cities listed in the rankings were Cleveland, Ohio; Stockton, California; Columbus, Georgia; Toledo, Ohio; Fresno, California; and Detroit, Michigan.

<![CDATA[United Ranks Second in Baggage, Reservation Change Fees]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 16:54:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

Chicago's hometown airline comes with a lot of baggage.

United Airlines ranked second place in both baggage fee and reservation cancellation/change fee revenues, according to 2014 data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In 2014, United earned $651 million in baggage fees and $802 million in reservation cancellation/change fees. Atlanta-based Delta is the only airline to exceed United on the list, coming in 1st place with $862 million in baggage fee revenue and $875 million in reservation cancellation/change fee revenue.

Airline bag and cancellation/change fee revenue in the U.S. hit a combined total of $6.5 billion in 2014, with $3.5 billion going to baggage fees and $3 billion from reservation cancellation/change fees.

Baggage fees accounted for 2.1 percent of the total operating revenue of passenger airlines while reservation cancellation/change fees accounted for 1.8 percent.

U.S. passenger airlines altogether earned $169.3 billion total operative revenue in 2014. Airlines made $127.5 billion total from fares alone.

Below is the list of U.S. passenger airlines generating the most revenue from baggage fees and reservation cancellation/change fees in 2014:

Delta (#1 ranked in both categories)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $862 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $875 million

United (#2 ranked in both categories)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $651 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $802 million

American (#3 ranked in both categories)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $574 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $553 million

U.S. Airways (#4 ranked in both categories)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $511 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $320 million

Spirit (#5 in baggage fees, #8 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $241 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $38 million

Frontier (#6 in baggage fees, #10 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $144 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $22 million

Alaska (#7 in baggage fees, #6 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $120 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $92 million

Allegiant (#8 in baggage fees, #13 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $107 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $9 million

JetBlue (#9 in baggage fees, #5 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $83 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $155 million

Hawaiian (#10 in baggage fees, #11 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $76 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $20 million

Southwest (#11 in baggage fees, #14 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $73 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $8 million

Virgin America (#12 in baggage fees, #9 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $60 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $37 million

Sun Country (#13 in baggage fees, #12 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $15 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $2 million

Island Air Hawaii (#14 in baggage fees, #15 in reservation cancellation/change fees)
• Baggage fee revenue in 2014: $3.9 million
• Reservation cancellation/change fee revenue in 2014: $600,000

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Faces Backer Backlash]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 14:42:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CST-01.jpg

A watch designed in Chicago that garnered attention through a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013 remains a work in progress that has run out of funding, resulting in scores of frustrated backers and pre-order customers who kicked-in more than one million dollars for the project.

Described as “the world’s thinnest watch,” the CST-01 is as thin as a credit card. Its designers layered a watch’s electronics, battery and E-Ink display on a thin piece of stainless steel. Early versions of the watch buzzed online and attracted a lot of interest.

Central Standard Timing, the Chicago-based designing team behind the CST-01, took to Kickstarter in early 2013 in an attempt to raise $200,000. The crowdfunding campaign exceeded its goal and raised $1,026,292 from backers who pledged to help bring the CST-01 watch to life. Pre-order customers raised another $322,000 for Central Standard Timing.

"It just looked pretty sleek so that’s why I chose to back it," said William Chung, who pledged $129.

Those who pledged certain dollar amounts were offered CST-01 watches in return. Chung said he expected his watch to be shipped later that year.

"I thought it would be a really nice birthday gift for myself to have a really nice watch pre-dating Apple Watch," Chung said.

After the crowdfunding campaign, Central Standard Timing posted updates on its Kickstarter page and spent the following months fine-tuning the CST-01. However, the watch’s supporters said estimated shipping deadlines were not being met and production updates were getting less frequent.

"There’s growing pains and there’s issues, but I think the communication or lack thereof was the biggest issue for me,” said Vishal Bhuta, who pre-ordered a CST-01 in September of 2013.

Last month, Central Standard Timing posted an update that production numbers and speed of production were "much lower than estimated."

Central Standard Timing co-founder Dave Vondle told NBC 5 Investigates that as of April 2015, only eighty units had been shipped, while 8,243 watches would need to be manufactured and delivered in order to satisfy all Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers.

“We deeply apologize for the fact that they don’t have a watch,” Vondle said.

Vondle explained that unexpected issues related to the battery, display and manufacturing resulted in Central Standard Timing using all of its money on parts, tooling and tests. The company said it has the majority of the parts needed, but it is struggling with the yield and costs involved to assemble them into final units. According to Vondle, the cost to produce a single watch ballooned from $70 to around $300.

Vondle said the company is working with its attorney regarding order fulfillments.

“We are doing everything in our power to get these units out to our customers,” Vondle said.

According to Vondle, 135 units are sitting at a warehouse in California. He said they will also be working on an additional 200 units.

Many backers are posting angry comments on message boards related to the delay. Some said the money was squandered. Others are taking a more sympathetic tone toward Central Standard Timing, underscoring the risks backers take when pledging money to crowdfunding projects.

Kickstarter’s rules prevent it from intervening in disputes between “creators” and “backers”. A spokesperson for the six- year-old crowdfunding platform said Kickstarter is not a store. Rather, the company describes itself as a place where people can take risks to help bring new, innovative ideas to life.

The Better Business Bureau, which performed an in-depth study on crowdfunding for charitable causes, urges consumers to research a project before they pledge money.

"You should never give any money that you can’t afford to invest and probably look at it, generally, as a donation," said Tom Joyce of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania researched crowdfunding and found that while the majority of creators fulfill their obligations to funders, more than 75 percent of the creators deliver products later than expected.

"You are getting a discount on a product that doesn’t yet exist and you get to support creators doing something worthwhile," Mollick said. "But you’re taking a risk."

Mollick said crowdfunding campaigns headed by industry veterans increase the chances of a product being delivered.

Photo Credit: Chicago Standard Timing]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Moves to Further Regulate Crane Operators]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 22:04:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CHI-federated-crane.jpg Chicago is in the midst of a construction boom, and now officials are turning their attention to the people who construct those buildings. NBC Chicago's Charlie Wojciechowski reports.]]>