<![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 Sat, 01 Aug 2015 07:05:14 -0500 Sat, 01 Aug 2015 07:05:14 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[McDonald's Asks Fans to Build "Ultimate Chicagoland Burger"]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:05:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*129/Mcdonalds+fries.jpg

McDonald’s has asked for Chicagoans to help create “the ultimate Chicagoland burger.”

The Oak Brook-based food chain began a contest Monday where burger enthusiasts and foodies can submit their “dream burger” for a chance to have their creation added to menus at Chicago-area McDonald’s restaurants.

Customers can build custom burgers via burgerbuildoff.com to put it up for online voting. The public will vote for their favorite burgers and the top 10 entries will move on to the final round, where a panel of judges will pick the top two recipes.

The recipes will be rated based on taste, creativity, visual presentation, product name and overall consumer appeal.

The top two burgers will then be added to menu boards at local restaurants and the burger that is purchased most will be dubbed the Chicago Burger Build Off Champion. The creator of the burger will also win a check for $5,000 and a trip for four to Universal Orlando Resort.

McDonald’s said the competition was created to help design a burger that is “distinctively Chicago—reflecting the city’s rich food heritage.”

“Throughout our history, McDonald’s has built all kinds of legendary burgers,” Edward Schmitt, Jr, president of MOCNI and a McDonald’s restaurant owner/operator, said in a statement. “Chicago is home to some of the world’s most delicious and celebrated foods, so we are excited to give our customers a chance to help create a burger that is as big and bold as our great city.”

Customers have until Aug. 23 to submit their creations online.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cannabis Conference Returns to Navy Pier]]> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:20:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/732453081.jpg

A cannabis conference will return to Navy Pier this weekend.

The My Compassion Cannabis Conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

The conference debuted at the venue last year and is being touted as the “nation’s premier cannabis health and wellness event.”
Open to the public, vendors feature plant growing tips, industrial hemp products, vaping pens and presentations on cannabis science, human health and business growth.

Accurate Biometrics, a Chicago company, will also offer fingerprinting for the medical card application.

Passes to the event cost $42 per day, $100 for three days and packages for $199 or more.

Last year, Illinois became the 20th state in the union to permit the use of medical marijuana.

The number of Illinois medical marijuana patients currently sits at more than 2,600.

In June, Illinois sent about 100 approval letters to patients who qualify to use marijuana, bringing the total to 2,600, the Illinois Department of Public Health said. About 22,600 people have started the application process on the program's website. Of those, only about 3,200 have submitted a complete application, 100 more than last month.

At least one company hopes to have marijuana growing this summer. Others are still months away from planting. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Could Soon Offer All-Day Breakfast Nationwide]]> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:03:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/4707047541.jpg

McDonald’s could soon dish out all-day breakfast nationwide.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal memo sent to U.S. franchisees and employees Tuesday, reports that the fast food giant could begin offering breakfast all day later this year.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company began testing all-day breakfast in March in its San Diego market. The test was expected to expand to Nashville this summer.

The memo, sent by LeAnn Richards, a franchisee from Arizona who heads a task force studying all-day breakfast, told franchisees to be ready for the potential launch of all-day breakfast as soon as October, WSJ reports.

McDonald’s, however, would only confirm that the company is testing the possibility of all-day breakfast.

“Serving all-day breakfast is likely the number one request we hear from McDonald’s customers,” the company told NBC Chicago in a statement. “We’re testing it out in a few markets to learn more about this possibility. We know your mouth is watering, but there’s no news on this yet.”

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

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.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Offers One-Hour Delivery to Prime Members in Chicago]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:53:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_252663736_amazon_prime_day_rebajas_ofertas_black_friday.jpg

Amazon has expanded its Prime Now service to Chicago.

The service launched Friday in select Chicago zip codes and will expand to additional zip codes in the city soon, the company said.

Prime Now boasts “ultra-fast service” and “provides one-hour delivery on tens of thousands of daily essentials through a mobile app.”

The service is available in the city from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, Amazon said. Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is available for $7.99.

Prime members will be notified via the Prime Now app when the service is available in their area.

The service is also currently available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Manhattan and Miami.
 

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<![CDATA[Chicago Brew Among Nation's 13 Best Craft Beers: Report]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 10:11:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/goose-island-pale-ale.jpg

A Chicago brew has been named on a list of the best craft beers in America.

The limited-release Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island made the list of top 13 craft beers in the nation by Forbes, coming in at no. 8.

The list was put together by Matt Canning, a beer concierge at Hotel Vermont. Though Canning acknowledged his bias toward Vermont beers, which was clear as seven of the 13 on the list were from Vermont, the Goose Island brew was the only one from the Midwest to make the cut.

“This beer has a cult following that includes this Beer Concierge. This pitch-black viscous brew is aged in bourbon barrels and released only once a year. Chocolate, caramel, and smoke on the nose—and rich oak from the barrels on the finish,” Canning wrote.

But be careful, he warned, “this beer is 14% ABV.”

The top beer on Canning’s list was Susan by Hill Farmstead, which he called an “exceedingly drinkable IPA.”

Beers from Quebec, California, Maine and New York also made the list.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts to Test New Hot Teas in Chicago]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 08:18:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DD+Premium+Hot+Tea+Packaging+Lineup+resize.jpg

Dunkin’ Donuts will soon test a new product in the Chicago market: Hot teas.

Beginning in October the coffee and doughnut chain will test five teas in participating locations in Chicago, a spokesperson for Dunkin' Brands Inc. told NBC Chicago. 

The flavors include a "Bold Breakfast" black tea, a "Cool Mint" herbal infusion, a "Chamomile Fields" herbal infusion, a "Hibiscus Kiss" herbal infusion and a "Harmony Leaf" premium leaf tea. 

Chris Fuqua, vice president of marketing, told Crain's Chicago Business the “tea market is one that’s evolving relatively quickly” and noted it is “one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.”

The company plans to test the new products in Chicago but could broaden its use if test results prove promising.

The move could allow the chain to compete with fellow coffee giant Starbucks Corp.

Starbucks has long been active in the tea market and sells Teavana brand tea.
 



Photo Credit: Dunkin' Donuts]]>
<![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[Starbucks to Open New Concept Store in Englewood]]> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:18:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP584464016824.jpg

First Whole Foods, now Starbucks -- Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood will soon see another major business development.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce Thursday that Starbucks plans to open a new concept store in the area designed to hire and train underserved youth.

The store will open next to a Whole Foods Emanuel credits with turning the violence-stricken neighborhood into an “economic and job creation anchor for the South Side.”

The new Starbucks will be the first of its kind and joins Whole Foods as part of the “Englewood Square” development, which broke ground last year and is expected to open in 2016.

The businesses are part of more than $362 million in planned and completed public and private investment projects underway in Englewood, according to the mayor's office. Emanuel expects those projects will create or retain more than 4,140 jobs.
 



Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[Student Loan Rates Drop, But For How Long?]]> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:29:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CN12T07072015_1200x675_479329347941.jpg More than 1.2 trillion dollars in student loans are taken out by more than 40 million consumers, with an average balance of about 29 thousand dollars. Last week, the interest rate on those federal loans dropped slightly, but with the Federal Reserve considering a possible interest rate hike this fall, will the reprieve be short-lived?]]> <![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.

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<![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.

CUTTING THE FAT

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.

SATURATION POINT OR ROOM TO RUN?

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."

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<![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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