<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News - Inc. Well]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business en-us Sat, 10 Oct 2015 11:28:03 -0500 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 11:28:03 -0500 NBC Local Integrated Media <![CDATA[Tribune Tower is For Sale: Report]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:23:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tribune-Tower.jpg

Chicago’s historic Tribune Tower is reportedly for sale.

The building’s owner, Tribune Media, announced Thursday that it has hired real estate investment banker Eastdil Secured to explore options for a sale or partnership to redevelop the Michigan Avenue landmark, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Murray McQueen, president of Tribune Real Estate, reportedly said in a statement that the offer is “an incredible opportunity” and they “are expecting a high level of interest from a broad range of private and institutional investors and developers.

The 36-story building, which houses the Chicago Tribune, was built in 1925 and named a Chicago landmark in 1989.

Photo Credit: Joe Sutton]]>
<![CDATA[CEO Spotlight Powered by Bizcast]]> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 05:23:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CEO-spotlight-opt-2.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Take a Sneak Peek at the New Boozy Target in Streeterville]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:04:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/boozy+target6.jpg

The new alcohol-serving Target in Streeterville is all set to open next week, and the first glimpse of the store is impressive.

The store, located at 401 E. Illinois St., the former location of Fox and Obel, will be the Minnesota-based retailer's first location to serve alcohol. It is expected to open Oct. 11.

A spokesperson for Target confirmed last month that the Streeterville store sought a liquor license but declined to elaborate on plans for the bar area.

The store was originally slated to open as a TargetExpress, which is a smaller, urban-focused version of the regular Target store. Although the company later announced that all CityTarget and TargetExpress stores would be renamed "Target" and rebranded with the company's logo, the Streeterville location appears to have kept the small, urban theme.

<![CDATA[Portillo's Reveals Plans for First Wisconsin Location]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:02:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/Portillos+Brookfield_Renderings.jpg

Cheeseheads can soon get a little taste of Chicago-style grub thanks to Portillo’s.

The Oak Brook-based chain known for its hot dogs and Italian beef menu items has submitted plans to build a restaurant in Brookfield, Wisconsin, located west of Milwaukee.

The restaurant would be the first in Wisconsin.

The proposed site would be located on Bluemound Road, at The Shoppes a the Corridor, but the plan is awaiting approval from the Plan Commission and City Council. The chain hopes to open the new restaurant in the second half of 2016.

“While we started as a Chicagoland restaurant, our neighbors to the north have been badgering us for years to bring Portillo's across the state line,” Portillo’s said in a release. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to expand into Wisconsin.”

It’s not the first out-of-state restaurant for the chain, who revealed earlier this year that it plans to open a location in Tampa.

The announcement was made just after the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to take home the Stanley Cup.

"Tampa residents spent years peppering us with requests to build a restaurant — you really put us in a pickle. So we’re thrilled we’re finally making our way to Florida," an advertisement from Portillo’s read.

Portillo's started as a hot dog stand in Chicago in 1963 and has grown to more than 40 locations, with only a handful located outside of Illinois.

Last month, the chain revealed plans to open a second Chicago location in the city’s South Loop.

The South Loop storefront also aims to be open in early 2016, Portillo’s director of marking Nick Scarpino said in an email.

In April, the Oak Brook-based chain also applied for a permit in Gurnee, which is set to open in November.

Photo Credit: Portillo's]]>
<![CDATA[UPS to Hire More Than 3,000 People in Chicago Area]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:44:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-459450119.jpg

UPS has announced it will hire more than 3,000 people in the Chicago area for seasonal positions.

Tractor-trailer drivers start at $27 per hour and delivery drivers start at $18.75 per hour, the company said in a press release.

The company is also hiring package handlers who will start at $10.10 per hour.

UPS is hiring at six area locations:

• UPS Palatine Facility, 2100 N. Hicks Road
• UPS Northbrook Facility, 2525 Shermer Road
• UPS Franklin Park Facility, 2301 N Rose St.
• UPS Bedford Park Facility, 6700 W 73rd St.
• UPS Jefferson Street Facility, 1400 S. Jefferson St.
• UPS Addison Facility, 150 S. Lombard Ave.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Verizon Moving Center to Rolling Meadows, Adding 200 Jobs]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:50:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/verizon+banner.jpg

Verizon Wireless says it plans to add 200 workers at a new call center in Chicago's western suburbs beginning next year.

The company will begin hiring the new workers over a year's time after moving 900 workers from a call center in Elgin to a larger office in Rolling Meadows.

Joan Bowyer, Verizon's vice president of customer service, tells the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald  that the company considered Chicago and other suburban sites to accommodate its growing number of workers, their commutes and future needs.

The new offices will include the call center, social media team and chat group workers.

Verizon's Midwest headquarters are based in nearby Schaumburg.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Last Chance to Dine at Ed Debevic's in River North]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:21:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/11137110_10152876011048299_1762192408383809822_n.jpg

Sunday is the last chance for customers to dine at Ed Debevic's, a River North restaurant famous for its snarky staff.

The restaurant is closing up shop and searching for a new space to make way for a brand new high-rise residential building. What's now a retro-themed diner at 640 N. Wells St. will soon be either condos or apartments.

As plans for the new high-rise get underway, Ed Debevic's continues its search for a new location in River North to serve their 1950s-style burgers, fries and shakes with a side of trademark sassy comments, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

Ed Debevic's has occupied the spot on the corner of Wells and Erie Streets since 1984, and it is the latest restaurant to give out to developers who eye single-story buyouts as the area's real estate values continue to skyrocket.


Photo Credit: Ed Debevic's]]>
<![CDATA[Walgreens Prescriptions Delayed Across U.S.]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 06:50:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens+sign+edit.jpg

Walgreens customers across the U.S. may find it difficult to get prescriptions in the company’s stores this week.

The company’s pharmacists have been filling each prescription manually since their system crashed Tuesday morning, affecting all 8,200 drugstores in America, The Chicago Tribune reported.

A Walgreens spokesman told NBC Chicago they have experienced "technical issues" following a “recent maintenance procedure.” 

“Our pharmacies are still able to fill prescriptions and process most insurance claims, however some patients may experience longer wait times until certain functionalities are fully restored,” company spokesman James W. Graham said in an email.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and our IT and pharmacy operations teams are working diligently to correct the issue,” Graham said.

The company is based in Deerfield, Illinois.

<![CDATA[Downtown Chipotle Temporarily Closed Over Fly Issue]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 17:10:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/207*120/Chipotle+Sign.jpg

A Chipotle on Michigan Ave. was closed by city officials Monday after an inspection revealed fruit flies at the restaurant, according to a report from the city's department of public health.

The restaurant, located at 316 N. Michigan Ave., failed the city’s Monday inspection because it wasn’t able to correct the fly problem discovered last week, the report stated. The location's license was suspended.

An inspection revealed “over 30 flying insects on walls and ceiling," according to the report. It also recommended the facility consult with a pest control company.

“The restaurant was closed yesterday after regular inspections found an operating issue,” Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold said in an emailed statement Monday. “The issue has been addressed, and the restaurant was re-inspected this afternoon and cleared to re-open. It is back to business as usual."

When asked about the flying insects city officials said they observed in the restaurant, Arnold said in an email, “The issue has been addressed and the restaurant was re-inspected this afternoon and cleared to re-open.”

Here's the report:


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Missouri AG: Walgreen Co. Deceiving Consumers]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:13:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens+sign+edit.jpg

Walgreen Co.'s persisting failure to remove expired sales tags from its shelves deceives customers and violates a 2014 settlement that sought to resolve the matter in Missouri, the state's attorney general argued Tuesday in asking a state court to punish the pharmacy chain.

Attorney General Chris Koster filed court documents asking a judge to hold the nation's largest pharmacy retailer in contempt of the settlement and issue steeper fines, including up to $5,000 for each expired tag. Koster said that since July, undercover investigators have found a total of more than 1,300 shelf tags displaying sales prices that had expired in all but one of 50 Walgreen stores.

Koster said the lapsed tags subjected customers to unwittingly being overcharged and ran afoul of the company's promise to remove the tags within 12 hours of their expiration. Two of the tags had expired in 2013, he said.

"Consumers should not have to dig through outdated and incorrect information to find the true price of an item," Koster said in announcing his latest legal filings against the company, based in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois. He called the expired sales tags "a flagrant defiance of the court's order."

"I believe the problem is rooted in negligence. I don't believe they care," Koster added. "This has become institutionalized as a marketing technique for Walgreens, and it is outrageous."

Walgreen spokesman Phil Caruso declined immediate comment. He said the company may publicly respond to Koster's allegations later Tuesday.

Koster sued Walgreen in 2013, accusing it of overcharging customers and using deceptive advertising and pricing schemes in Missouri. The undercover investigation took place in eight stores in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Jefferson City and Osage Beach after consumers complained that display prices didn't match up with what they paid at checkout.

At that time, Koster cited several ways in which consumers were overcharged, including outdated price displays for sale items and confusion created by multiple prices displayed for the same item. Of 205 items purchased by investigators, 43 had price discrepancies ranging from a few cents to $15, Koster said.

Under the 2014 settlement, Walgreen agreed to pay for an independent auditor to scrutinize 25 percent of the company's stores every three months until mid-2017. Walgreen faced a penalty of $1,500 for each store that failed its first inspection, $3,000 for each one that fails a second inspection, and $5,000 for each store that fails a third or subsequent inspection.

Koster said Tuesday that the company already has paid the state $136,500 for pricing violations uncovered by the audits.

"Obviously, $136,000 in fines doesn't seem to be enough to get Walgreen's attention," he said.

Walgreen has roughly 8,240 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[Opening Date Set for New Alcohol-Serving Target]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 12:02:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-71478723.jpg

A new Target store in Streeterville is expected to open next month as the first of the company's stores to serve alcohol.

The opening date for the store, which is located at 401 E. Illinois St., is set for Oct. 11, according to Eater Chicago.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota-based retailer confirmed to NBC Chicago earlier this month that Target was seeking a liquor license for the store but declined to elaborate on any future plans.

The store was originally slated to open as a TargetExpress, which is a smaller version of the regular Target store. Target later announced that all CityTarget and TargetExpress stores would be renamed "Target" and rebranded with the company's logo. The retailer noted that the Streeterville store will retain its "smaller, flexible format," however.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Wiener's Circle Has Been Sold: Report]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:36:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/weiners-circle.jpg

Chicago’s famed Wiener’s Circle, the hot dog stand serving up chardogs with a side of rude, has reportedly been sold.

The Chicago Tribune reports that five guys (not THE Five Guys) have purchased the stand and plan to grow it beyond its Lincoln Park location.

The restaurant, located at 2622 N. Clark St., is known for its authentic Chicago-style char-grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. It has also become a YouTube fan favorite and tourist attraction thanks to its late-night shenanigans, which include employees hurling insults at customers and the ever-popular “milkshake.”

It has been highlighted by numerous publications for having one of America's best hot dogs. 

Matt Brewer, one of the new owners and a self-described hot dog obsessive, told the Tribune the new group of investors is “very aware of what makes the place special.” He noted that while changes are expected, it will “still look and feel like the restaurant [customers] know and love.”

What exactly the new owners plan to do with the stand isn’t exactly clear, but the Tribune reports that menu expansions and franchising beyond Chicago are possibilities being considered.

Photo Credit: Check Please, Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King, 4 Rivals to Debut 'Peace Day Burger' ]]> Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:03:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/AP272135403821.jpg

For one day, and one day only, five burger chains will come together to produce a Peace Day Burger that will be shared… for free.

The limited 1,500 Peace Day burgers will be available Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a pop-up location in Atlanta, CNBC reported.

It will reportedly feature ingredients from Denny’s Bacom Slamburger, Wayback’s Wayback Classic, Krystal’s Cheese Krystal, Giraffas’ Brutus and Burger King’s Whopper.

Each chain is also expected to donate money to Peace One Day, a nonprofit group that raises awareness on Peace Day.

The announcement comes after Burger King proposed creating a”McWhopper” with McDonald’s, taking out a full-page advertisement that appeared in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune last month.

The "McWhopper" would include elements of both the Big Mac and the Whopper, including the flame-broiled beef patty and a middle bun, according to a website Burger King set up.

McDonald's, however, declined the offer.

In a comment posted on its Facebook page, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said the proposal was inspiration for a good cause, then took a dig at the ploy by Burger King.

"Let's acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war," Easterbrook said.

He added "P.S. A simple phone call will do next time."

Shortly after, Denny’s jumped on the “peace burger” bandwagon and took out full-page ads in USA Today and The New York Times, showing their version of a mash-up burger between Denny’s and Burger King.

The advertisement featured a massive burger with some extra toppings and a peace flag sticking out of the bun.

The other four brands followed with similar collaboration offers.

In an open letter released earlier this month by Burger King, the burger chain said its original offer to McDonald’s still stands.

“McDonald’s, please take your time,” the letter read. “We’re totally at peace with that.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Motorola Solutions to Move Global Headquarters to Chicago]]> Tue, 15 Sep 2015 18:07:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/motorola+solutions.jpg

Motorola Solutions will move its global headquarters from suburban Schaumburg to downtown Chicago next year, officials announced Tuesday.

The company plans to move to 500 W. Monroe St. in the summer of 2016, officials said.

The move marks a return to Chicago for the company, which was founded in 1928 on Harrison Street.

“With this move, Motorola Solutions not only returns to its Chicago roots, but the company is doubling down on Chicago’s future,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “The company will add hundreds of jobs to our city’s growing technology industry and gain the access to talent that they need for the future we are all building here, in Chicago.”

The transition will bring about 800 jobs to Chicago, officials said. 

The company also plans to maintain its current Americas Sales Headquarters at 224 S. Michigan Ave.

“Our company began in this city 87 years ago, and today we’re pleased to announce that our headquarters is coming home,” Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions, said in a statement. “This is another transformative step in ensuring a future of continued innovation, and will provide us with greater access to high-tech talent.”

Motorola Solutions said it will continue to have a “significant presence” in Schaumburg, with about 1,600 employees on its current campus, but it will sell unused real estate on the 277-acre property for redevelopment.

Schaumburg will likely convert the offices for a new project in the future.

“I think we’re aging very well here in Schaumburg and certainly have plans for the future that would include redevelopment of that acreage,” village president Al Larson said.

The company’s manufacturing and delivery operations will also move to Elgin.  

Photo Credit: Sky 5]]>
<![CDATA[Morton Salt Moving Operations Out of Longtime Warehouse]]> Tue, 15 Sep 2015 15:18:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/morton+girl.jpg

Morton Salt, Inc. has announced plans to stop packaging and warehousing operations its Elston Avenue facility in Chicago by the end of October.

The decision is a result of a “comprehensive network study initiated over a year ago” where officials decided it would be “more efficient” to house the operations at another facility, the company said in a release Tuesday.

The company first began operations at the site in the late 1920s. Earlier this year, a wall at the warehouse collapsed, sending a massive pile of salt pouring out of the wall, burrying dozens of cars at a nearby dealership. 

Though the company said it plans to “maintain a business presence on-site,” the packaging and warehousing operations at the facility will stop, officials said.

"The Morton Salt facility on Elston Avenue has an iconic presence in Chicago," Christian Herrmann, Chief Executive Officer of Morton Salt, Inc., said in a statement. "That's why we will explore all possibilities related to the future of the property and the infrastructure upon it. Our company was founded in Chicago and we are committed to the long, rich history we have here."

Morton Salt employs 23 people at the facility, where the company packages and stores ice melting salts and other bulk salts that are sold to commercial businesses.

The company says it plans to “work closely with impacted team members” to provide severance packages and other benefits and added that employees will be considered for other positions in the company, when possible.

In addition to the Elston Avenue changes, Morton Salt also plans to move from its current headquarters office at 123 N. Wacker Drive to 444 W. Lake Street in December 2016. The relocation is expected to combine the company’s 300 headquarters employees with its 50 customer service center employees, who are currently located in Oak Brook.

Photo Credit: chicagotypography/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[New Uber Program Offers Car, Job to Low-Income Residents]]> Thu, 10 Sep 2015 21:13:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uber-Generic.jpg

There’s a new car leasing program coming to Chicago that’s aimed at giving low-income residents access to vehicles -- and a job at Uber.

The program was announced by Rev. Father Michael Pfleger and Uber leaders Thursday.

“Economic opportunity is the key to address many challenges that are facing our community,” Pfleger of Saint Sabina said in a statement. “This program will help Chicagoans who don’t have cars get access to one so they can earn money whenever they want.”

The program called Xchange requires a $250 security deposit and drivers can opt out for free after 30 days. Weekly rates will range from $80 to $150 and include basic maintenance and unlimited mileage.

Cars available in the program include new and used vehicles like the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and others.

“Just because you don’t have a car shouldn’t mean you don’t have an opportunity,” Ebonee Green, who leads Uber's driver efforts on Chicago's South and West sides, said in a statement. “By lowering the barrier and cost of car ownership, Xchange will connect more people to jobs on the Uber platform.”

The move is part of Uber’s recent pledge to recruit 10,000 drivers on the city’s South and West sides.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portillo's May Open Restaurant in South Loop ]]> Fri, 11 Sep 2015 13:14:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/portillos3.png

Fans of Portillo's rejoice: a new restaurant may be opening in the South Loop.

The chain applied for a building permit at 520 W. Taylor St. last week, according to city records. The restaurant would be the second location in the city.

In April, the Oak Brook-based chain also applied for a permit in Gurnee, which is set to open in November.

A request for comment from NBC Chicago to Portillo’s wasn’t immediately returned.

Photo Credit: Instagram/PortillosHotDogs]]>
<![CDATA[ McDonald's All-Day Breakfast Menu Begins Tuesday]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:23:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-481668542.jpg

If you thought McDonald’s decision to roll out all-day breakfast was too good to be true, well, it might be; at least for those who already had a specific order in mind.

The fast food giant will indeed be making breakfast available anytime you want to order it beginning on Oct. 6, but only certain menu items will be available.

“Depending on the local market, All Day Breakfast will have a limited menu that focuses on either McMuffin or Biscuit items,” the company announced on their website. “This decision is made at the local level based on customer preference.”

The company cites the reasoning as simply not having enough room on the grills to be rotating through all breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in their entirety throughout the day.

So if you’re really craving a biscuit but in a city where McMuffins are more popular, then you’ll have to get up before 10:30 a.m. to get one when the traditional breakfast menu is available.

If you have a preference, now is the time to let it be known before the big day, like many have on social media: 

Depending on your location, you will be ordering from either the "McMuffin Market Menu" or the "Biscuit Market Menu." I think the question is, which kind of person are you?

McMuffin Market Menu

McMuffin Sandwiches
• Egg McMuffin
• Sausage McMuffin with Egg
• Sausage McMuffin
• (Does not include Egg White Delight)

• Hotcakes with Sausage
• Hotcakes

Sausage Burrito

• Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
• Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
• Hash Browns*

Biscuit Market Menu

• Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
• Sausage Biscuit with Egg
• Sausage Biscuit

• Hotcakes with Sausage
• Hotcakes

Sausage Burrito

• Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
• Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
• Hash Browns*

*available breakfast items vary by location

<![CDATA[New Streeterville Target Officially Applies for Liquor License]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:43:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target+express.jpg

It has been confirmed that the new Target store set to open in downtown Chicago has applied for a liquor license.

The application was confirmed by Eater Chicago, which verified through a Freedom of Information Act request.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota-based retailer confirmed to NBC Chicago that Target would be seeking a liquor license for the store, but declined to elaborate on any future plans.

Although several Target locations sell alcohol, none have served it at stores, a spokesperson for Target told Fortune.

The new location is scheduled to open in October in the former Fox & Obel store, located at 401 E. Illinois St.

The store was expected to be a TargetExpress location and is smaller than most regular Target stores.

Earlier this month, Target announced that CityTarget and TargetExpress stores across the country would be renamed as "Target" stores and be rebranded with the company's logo. However, the retailer noted that the Streeterville store will still be a "smaller, flexible format" stores.

Photo Credit: Target]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's All-Day Breakfast Could Cause Rise in Egg Prices: Report]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 12:24:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/mcdonalds-sign1.JPG

McDonald’s will soon serve all day breakfast nationwide, but experts are already warning that all those Egg McMuffins could have a negative impact on your grocery bill.

Some market researchers believe the increase in Egg McMuffin eaters, along with other egg-filled breakfast items on the McDonald’s menu, could mean high egg prices.

Egg prices are already a concern for analysts following the worst avian flu outbreak in three decades.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, told the Chicago Tribune that the all-day breakfast change, along with the option of adding eggs to Quarter Pounders, “will put further stress on it, and ultimately we’re going to see high [prices] that will be passed on to the consumer.”

The bird flu virus wiped out millions of chickens on commercial farms this spring.

Last month, Midwest wholesale prices rose 135 percent to $2.80 per dozen, up from $1.19 per dozen in April, according to prices from market research firm Urbern Barry.

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment but in an interview earlier this week, the Oak Brook-based company’s U.S. President Mike Andres reportedly addressed the issue by saying “we have the best supply chain in the world.”

John Brunnquell, CEO of Indiana-based Egg Innovations, told the Tribune that McDonald’s’ decision to begin serving breakfast all day was good for egg farmers, but noted that egg prices could continue to increase as supply rises to meet demand.  

McDonald's is expected to begin serving all-day breakfast nationwide starting Oct. 6.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Roll Out All-Day Breakfast Oct. 6]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:08:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonald%27s+breakfast.jpg

McDonald's announced Tuesday its highly anticipated decision to serve breakfast all day at all U.S. locations starting this fall.

According to CNBC, McDonald's franchisees voted to approve all-day breakfast at the fast food chain's 14,300 U.S. restaurants on Tuesday. Starting Oct. 6, patrons can order Egg McMuffins and other breakfast items at any time of the day.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company tweeted about the decision Tuesday afternoon using the hashtag #AllDayBreakfast and responding to customers' queries about extending the chain's breakfast hours. McDonald's even responded to a tweet from 2007 that said, "Mcdonalds should serve breakfast 24/7."

McDonald's began testing all-day breakfast in March in the San Diego market. The test was expected to expand to Nashville this summer.

"Serving all-day breakfast is likely the number one request we hear from McDonald's customers," the company told NBC Chicago in a statement in July.

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

The chain 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 McDonald's has faced stiffer competition in recent years, with competitors such as Starbucks and Subway rolling out breakfast sandwiches as well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denny's Makes Peace Offer to Burger King]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:37:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/denny%27s+sign.jpg

Denny's has jumped on the "peace burger" bandwagon after fast-food chain Burger King extended a peace offer to McDonald's to create a "McWhopper" last week.

The fast casual restaurant took out full-page advertisements in USA Today and The New York Times to show off their version of a mash-up between Denny's and Burger King, according to USA Today. The advertisement features a massive burger with some extra toppings and a peace flag sticking out of the bun.

Denny's tweeted a photo of their "peace burger" Thursday, showing a classic Burger King Whopper with ingredients from the Denny's Slammer, including a fried egg, bacon and hash browns. The chain has not decided on a name for the proposed burger, but it tossed out a few ideas, such as "Whoppaslam," "The Slopper," "The Slamopper" and "Whoppaslamus-rex." 

The new advertisement debuted Monday, less than a week after Burger King proposed the "McWhopper" to celebrate the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. The full-page Burger King advertisement appeared in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Burger King said it wanted to serve the "McWhopper" for a single day at a pop-up location in Atlanta, which is midway between the headquarters for both chains.

The "McWhopper" would include elements of both the Big Mac and the Whopper, including the flame-broiled beef patty and a middle bun, according to a website Burger King set up.

McDonald's, however, declined the offer.

In a comment posted on its Facebook page, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said the proposal was inspiration for a good cause, then took a dig at the ploy by Burger King.

"Let's acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war," Easterbrook said.

He added "P.S. A simple phone call will do next time."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uniqlo to Open Flagship Store in Chicago in Fall]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:46:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/uniqlo+manhattan.jpg

The Japanese retail store Uniqlo is set to open its flagship store — and second largest store — in Chicago this fall.

The retail company set the opening date for Oct. 23, according to the Chicago Tribune. The 60,000-square-foot store will be located at 830 N. Michigan Ave. on the Magnificent Mile. It will be the second largest store after the Fifth Avenue location in New York.

Uniqlo sells casual attire, including sweaters, scarves and jeans, as well as sportswear for men, women and children.

"Chicago is a global city that's home to some of the finest cultural and sports institutions in the world, and we are thrilled to join the city's rich landscape," said Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo USA.

The Chicago store will employ 400 workers, according to the Tribune.

Uniqlo currently has more than 40 stores in the U.S., but the Chicago location will be its first in the Midwest. Worldwide, there are at least 1,600 Uniqlo stores.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Major Expansion, New Stores Open at Aurora Outlet Mall]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:41:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shopping+bags+getty.jpg

Attention, shopaholics! A whole slew of new stores opens at the mega outlet mall in Aurora Thursday.

Chicago Premium Outlets will open more than 30 new and expanded stores to shoppers starting at 10 a.m. The list of new stores includes Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, The Limited Outlet, Abercrombie & Fitch Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger Kids and UGG Australia. The unveiling will also include 2,200 new parking spaces and new amenities, the mall said.

In April, Chicago Premium Outlets announced an initial list of new retailers that would reside in the outlet mall as part of the multi-million dollar expansion. In total, the mall was expected to hold more than 170 stores by the time the expansion was complete.

Among the newly announced stores are the first Midwest outlets for eclectic lifestyle designer Robert Graham and luxury skincare company Clarins.

Other stores that will make their debut at the outlet mall include:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch Outlet
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • bebe
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Corningware, Corelle & More
  • Expess Factory Outlet
  • Finish Line
  • Fragrance Outlet
  • The Limited Outlet
  • The Luggage Factory
  • Mountain Warehouse
  • Old Navy Outlet
  • Quicksilver
  • Tommy Hilfiger Kids
  • UGG Australia
  • Vans
  • Vince

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Streeterville Target Could Be Equipped With a Bar]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:29:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target+express.jpg

A new Target store set to open in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood is on track to become the first ever Target store to serve alcohol to customers.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota-based retailer confirmed to NBC Chicago that Target is seeking a liquor license for the store, but declined to elaborate on any future plans.

The new Streeterville location is scheduled to open in October in the former Fox & Obel store, located at 401 E. Illinois St.

The store was expected to be a TargetExpress location and is smaller than most regular Target stores.

Earlier this month, Target announced that CityTarget and TargetExpress stores across the country would be renamed as "Target" stores and be rebranded with the company's logo. The retailer noted that the Streeterville store will still be a "smaller, flexible format" store, however. 

New details on the Streeterville store and pending liquor license are expected to be released in the coming weeks, the Target spokesperson said.

Photo Credit: Target]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Vows Never to Eat Oreos Again, Citing Move to Mexico]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 13:51:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/donald+trump+oreo.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeated his claim Tuesday evening that he would stop eating Oreos, citing the cookie maker's decision to close a plant in Chicago and move it to Mexico.

"I'm never eating Oreos again," Trump said, before adding that he would consider it if he could find some that were made in the U.S.

Trump's claim is partly true.

Oreo's parent company Mondelez International Inc. said last month that it decided to invest $130 million in building four new production lines at a plant in Mexico, which will replace nine older production lines at its Chicago plant.

That will mean the number of jobs at the Chicago plant will go from about 1,200 to about 600, said Laurie Guzzinati, a Mondelez representative. But the plant in Chicago will remain open.

Guzzinati said the decision to invest in the Mexico plant came after discussions with union representatives for workers at the Chicago plant. She said the company determined that the new production lines would cost $46 million less per year in Mexico than in Chicago, and said labor was "one of many factors."

Guzzinati noted that Oreos continue to be made in some U.S. plants, including in New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.

The Mondelez plant in Salinas, Mexico, opened in late 2014, and the four additional production lines are expected to be completed by mid-2016. Two of those lines will make Oreo cookies, Guzzinati said.

Mondelez, which also makes Chips Ahoy cookies and Trident gum, has said its "supply chain reinvention plan" is part of its broader push to slash costs and improve productivity.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King to McDonald's: Let's Make a McWhopper]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:15:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP0910251102942.jpg

This probably isn't what the United Nations had in mind when it established the International Day of Peace: Burger King is asking McDonald's to join forces to create a "McWhopper."

In full-page newspaper ads Wednesday, Burger King says it's calling for a truce with McDonald's so that they can create a mashup of their most famous burgers — the Big Mac and the Whopper. Burger King says it wants to serve the concoction for a single day at a popup location in Atlanta, a midway point between the headquarters of the two chains.

Burger King is tying the publicity stunt to a nonprofit called Peace One Day, which says it promotes Peace Day. The United Nations created the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with its annual opening session in September. It then designated Sept. 21 as the annual "day of non-violence and cease-fire" in 2001.

In a comment posted on its Facebook page, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said the proposal was inspiration for a good cause, then took a dig at the ploy by Burger King.

"Let's acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war," Easterbrook said.

He added "P.S. A simple phone call will do next time."

The proposed mashup of the Big Mac and Whopper would include elements of each, such as flame-broiled beef patty and a middle bun, according to a website Burger King set up. Burger King notes on the site that it's open to discussing the proposal, but that details would have to be worked out in time for Peace Day.

"Proposals like McWhopper make noise," Burger King says in a video on the site.

Burger King said the ads asking McDonald's about the proposal were to run Wednesday in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, the latter of which is based near McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Burger King, based in Miami, is owned by Restaurant Brands International, which also owns Tim Hortons. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks CEO Asks Employees to be 'Sensitive']]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 19:41:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP434850230768.jpg

After a turbulent day of trading at the stock markets, the CEO of Starbucks told all employees of the global coffee chain to do their part in calming nerves caused by the chaos.

CEO Howard Schultz sent a memo to his 190,000 employees Monday cautioning them to be extra "sensitive" to customers affected by the stock market plunge.

"Today's financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers' attitudes and behavior," Schultz wrote.

"Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and — as you always have — remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let's be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations."

Despite the "financial market volatility," Schultz also assured employees that Starbucks will be just fine, saying his confidence in the company and its employees "has never been greater."

This latest move by Starbucks marks another of the company's "social good' initiatives.

Under Schultz's leadership, Starbucks has taken up several such initiatives, including the recent controversial "Race Together" campaign in which baristas wrote the phrase on paper cups to encourage them to discuss diversity and racial inequality. The campaign was discontinued after some customers expressed opposition.

In 2012, Starbucks also asked baristas to write "Come Together" on coffee cups in the D.C. area to encourage unity during fiscal cliff talks.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target to Test New Cafes in 14 Stores]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 08:54:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target-store-sign.jpg

Target customers will soon have new dining options at some stores.

Beginning in October, the retailer plans to roll out a new café concept at 14 test stores, a Target spokesperson confirmed to NBC Chicago Tuesday. 

While the company didn't reveal further details on the test, USA Today reports Target plans to add fast-casual restaurant Freshii to nine stores and Pizza Hut, featuring artisan pizzas, to three stores. Two Minneapolis stores will also replace their cafes with a D’Amico & Sons, a local pizza chain.

Target reportedly has cafes in 1,700 of its 1,800 stores.

Target’s Chief Stores Officer, Tina Tyler, told USA Today the change is less about drawing more customers to the cafes and more about showcasing the brand’s health and wellness values.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Expert to Investors: 'Don't Panic']]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 05:35:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/topNews-AP_320394854692.jpg

Monday’s manic stock market day was unsettling news for investors around the world, and in Chicago, but some experts say it’s not time to panic-- yet.

Seized by fears that the Chinese economy is not as healthy as it appeared to be, investors sold with abandon at the opening bell and sent the Dow Jones industrial average down almost 1,100 points, the biggest decline on record in a trading day. Then the market staged a dramatic comeback and almost erased its losses, coming within about 115 points of break-even. By late afternoon, stocks were sinking again — and the Dow was down 588 points at the closing bell, a 3.58 percent rout.

“Chine waved the white flag and said their growth isn’t as good as they thought,” said Brian Battle with Performance Trust Capital Partners. “So there has been a selloff in Asia and it finally made it here to the U.S.”

But Steven Esposito, a senior vice president with the wealth management division of Morgan Stanley, said investors shouldn’t panic.

“What you don’t want to do is let emotion control your investment decisions,” he said. “Look at your portfolio. Make sure it’s well-diversified. It may be time to upgrade a few of your positions, or pull back, but most of all, don’t panic.”

Many investors pick and choose stocks based on a company's business outlook, but there is an entirely different class of trader that relies on technical indicators to make investment decisions. Many of their screens were flashing "sell" this week.

The S&P 500 and the Dow have broken through a few key technical levels recently. One important one is their 200-day moving averages, which the two indexes pierced on Thursday, helping to fuel selling. Both indexes dropped 2.1 percent that day, before further tumbling on Friday. The good news is the last time the S&P 500 broke through its 200-day moving average, in early July, it bounced back from those levels after a few days.

Esposito acknowledged the news is “troubling” but said having a long-term plan is key.

“You shouldn’t panic because everyone else is selling,” he said. “Make sure you have a long-term plan and stick to it. These are very troubling times. Don’t try to be a trader, be an investor.”

Some experts believe the volatility is healthy and say stocks have gone too long without a correction. 

The U.S. economy is looking healthier lately. Employers have been on a hiring spree, and that has helped push the unemployment rate to a low 5.3 percent.

Investors will get another clue on the economy on Thursday when the government releases its estimate of economic growth in the April-June period.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle to Hire Thousands of Employees in One Day]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:57:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/207*120/Chipotle+Sign.jpg

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. plans to hire thousands of employees in one day during an event scheduled to take place at restaurants across the country next month.

The company's National Career Day is scheduled to take place from 8-11 a.m. on Sept. 9 at every Chipotle across the country, according to Chipotle's website.

Chipotle says that in the last year, the company has promoted more than 10,000 people, who once started as hourly crew members, into management roles, and the upcoming event will help “draft the next wave of our future leaders.”

Management teams at each U.S. restaurant location will hold open interviews for up to 60 applicants, with the intent of hiring 4,000 new employees. 

"We are constantly looking for great people to join our team," Monty Moran, co-chief executive officer at Chipotle, said in a statement. "Regardless of your background or experience, you can succeed at Chipotle if you have a passion for making the people around you better."

The move is the latest employee initiative at the company and follows news that Chipotle would expand benefits to all employees, including tuition reimbursement for students.

Last month, Chipotle implemented a new benefits package that included paid sick days, paid vacation days and tuition reimbursement for part-time employees.

“We are always working to attract and retain the very best employees we can, and to helping develop our people so they can achieve their full potential,” Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communication director, said.

The hiring event, which hints at the potential to put employees "on the path to developing rewarding careers," adds Chipotle to the long list of fast food chains taking extra measures to attract and retain employees.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced it will pay for a full four years of Arizona State University's online degree program for its employees. McDonald’s unveiled a similar college reimbursement program in April. The fast food giant also announced an increase in pay and paid sick days for its employees.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Debuts Later This Year]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 09:58:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pumpkinspice.JPG

After much hype surrounding Starbucks’ new pumpkin spice latte recipe, it appears fans of the beloved fall drink will need to wait a little longer to place their orders.

The drink is expected to be released nationwide Sept. 8, according to CNBC and staff at multiple locations throughout the country and in Chicago.

The drink will debut early for Starbucks Gold card members, who will be able to sip the beloved beverage as early as Sept. 4.

Last year, the latte was released for early access customers on Aug. 26 and was launched nationwide on Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day. It should be noted that Labor Day falls later this year.

Starbucks Corp. said Monday its version of the concoction this year will be made with real pumpkin and without caramel coloring. The change comes after blogger Vani Hari, known as the Food Babe, criticized Starbucks last year for the drink's ingredients and its lack of transparency around the issue.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has called the pumpkin spice latte the company's "most popular seasonal beverage ever." In late 2013, he said sales of the drink were as strong as ever "despite the proliferation of knockoffs and copycats." The company even has a Twitter account set up for the drink, which has more than 82,000 followers. 

Starbucks did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Named Top Choice for Breakfast Eaters: Reports]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 10:33:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcmuffins-generic-AP.jpg

Looks like consumers are lovin’ McDonald’s breakfasts -- even during lunch.

McDonald’s, which recently revealed plans to offer all-day breakfast this year, is apparently the top choice for breakfast eaters and so-called “breakfastarians.”

According to two separate surveys, McDonald’s was picked as a go-to breakfast eatery for both morning breakfast eaters and those who eat breakfast at any time of day, also known as “breakfastarians.”

Of all major dining chains that serve breakfast, McDonald’s had the top purchase consideration among consumers who typically eat breakfast out twice a day, according to the report from YouGov BrandIndex, a brand perception research service.

The world’s largest hamburger chain was followed by Subway, IHOP, Burger King and Starbucks.

In another report by Instantly, which surveyed more than 10,000 consumers, McDonald’s was selected by more than 40 percent of respondents as their “go-to” fast food restaurant for breakfast.

The Oak Brook-based chain topped Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr., Burger King and Del Taco for the top spot among breakfast eaters.

McDonald’s is expected to dish out breakfast all day nationwide later this year, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing an internal memo sent to franchisees and employees.

The company began testing the option in its San Diego market in March and expanded the test to Nashville over the summer.

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. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Walgreens to Lay Off 270 Corporate Workers in Chicago]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 06:11:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens+sign+edit.jpg

Walgreens reportedly plans to lay off 270 Chicago employees as part of a plan to eliminate 370 positions from its corporate support offices.

The layoffs are part of the company’s restructuring and cost-reduction plan put in place last year, company spokesman James Graham told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Employees will be notified throughout the month, with no additional staff cuts expected in the near future, Graham said.

Earlier this year, the nation’s largest drugstore chain closed about 200 stores nationwide as it expanded on the $1 billion cost-reduction plan.

The Deerfield, Illinois company said it planned to reorganize its corporate operations and streamline its information technology and other functions. It expected the moves to add $500 million to its estimated cost savings from its three-year plan.

Late last year, Walgreens completed a nearly $16 billion deal to purchase the remaining stake of European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots that it didn't already own. The company was renamed Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. 

<![CDATA[Toby Keith's Bar Says it Paid Taxes, Wants to Stay in Rosemont]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 12:05:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP483260167176.jpg

The management of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill has responded to an eviction suit from the village of Rosemont, saying the restaurant paid taxes and and wants to stay in Rosemont.

General manager Larry Vanni told the Daily Herald everything the bar and restaurant owed has been paid and the company hopes to convince Mayor Brad Stephens to drop the eviction suit and let the popular venue stay in the entertainment district.

The village had earlier filed the lawsuit against the bar claiming it owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and rent.

Stephens told the Daily Herald he’s already begun talking to other potential users for the space, but said “those are just talks at this point.”

He also told the paper he doesn’t regret pushing for the bar and restaurant to come to the entertainment district, saying they were one of the “hottest concepts in the country” at the time.

The Rosemont venue first opened in the space in 2012.

Since its opening, other locations have closed, including some in Cincinnati, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Orlando and Houston.

Vanni reportedly said the Rosemont location is one of the most profitable locations for the chain, noting that its revenues were being used to try and keep others afloat.

Stephens told the Daily Herald he is waiting for the August rent check to clear before he’ll consider dropping the suit but whether or not the venue can stay in Rosemont for 2016 remains to be seen.

The restaurant’s lease reportedly expires Dec. 31.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cookie Store Offers Last Chance for Maurice Lenell Cookies]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 06:08:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*128/313_Swirl_-no_box.JPG

Fans of Maurice Lenell cookies may want to stock up while they can.

The Cookie Store and More on North Harlem Avenue will sell the last of the legendary cookies, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Cookie Store and More opened in 2010 to serve as the unofficial outlet for the brand, but it now reportedly has a “Last Chance for Maurice Lenell” countdown sign hanging in its front window.

As of Thursday, the sign said 18 days until supply runs out, the Tribune reported.

The Maurice Lenell Cooky Company closed its Norridge factory in 2008

Consolidated Biscuit Co., which bought Lenell's equipment and trademarks and promised to continue making the cookies, told the Tribune the equipment used to make the cookies has aged and the undertaking became hard to justify. The company also said the Food and Drug Administration, and customers, wanted a revision to the recipe to remove partially hydrogenated oils, but they say that revision “changes the whole cookie.”

Consolidated Biscuit Co. has since stopped production of the beloved old-fashioned treats, and all that remains at the Cookie Store is what's left on the shelves.

Photo Credit: Maurice Lenell]]>
<![CDATA[Motorola Mobility Cutting 500 Jobs in Chicago]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:04:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/smartphones1.jpg

Motorola Mobility has announced plans to cut 25 percent of its 2,000 Chicago employees, a spokesman for the company said Thursday.

Will Moss, senior director of corporate communications for Motorola Mobility, said the layoffs are part of an overall restructuring by parent company Lenovo.

Lenovo on Wednesday announced plans to reduce 3,200 people in its “non-manufacturing workforce around the world” following a 3 percent decrease in revenue from the previous year.

“Lenovo saw severe challenges in its main markets,” the company said in a release. “It faced significant declines in the global PC and tablet markets, as well as slowing growth and increasing competition – especially in China – in smartphones.”

The company said it plans to reduce expenses by about $650 million in the second half of this year and about $1.35 billion annually.

“To build long term, sustainable growth, we must take proactive and decisive actions in every part of the businesses,” Yuanqing Yang, Chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said in a statement.

Moss said the Merchandise Mart will continue to be the mobile device maker's headquarters and “the hub of our global R&D and design.”

“We’ll still have a substantial workforce there,” he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[400 Youths to Be Hired at Chicago Job Fair Thursday]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 04:30:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP584464016824.jpg

More than 400 young employees are expected to be hired at a job fair at Chicago’s McCormick Place Thursday.

The 100,000 Opportunity Job Fair and Forum at McCormick Place will kick off the official start to the 100,000 Opportunity Initiative, a national program where a group of U.S. companies will commit to engaging 100,000 young people in jobs, internships and apprenticeships by 2018.

More than 4,500 young Chicagoans are slated to attend the fair, which is said to be the “first of its kind.”

“We believe that for young people to get their foot in the door in industries that have career trajectories and with companies that provide tuition is all a part of our initiative at Chicago City of Learning to help our youth level up professionally and academically,” Nichole Pinkard, a DePaul University professor and founder of the Digital Youth Network, said in a statement.

At least 29 private companies will be a part of the event, including Starbucks, JC Penny, Potbelly, Hyatt and others with plans to hire more than 400 youths between the ages of 16 and 24 on the spot at the fair.

The event is also expected to feature appearances by Common, Chance the Rapper and “surprise local and national celebrities and heroes.”

The event is ticketed and applications must be filled out before attending. Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 24, part-time students or not enrolled in school, not currently working.

Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[Mag Mile Apple Store Plans Move: Report]]> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:43:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Apple_ipad-chicago-11-1.jpg

Apple Inc. reportedly plans to plug in at a new location in Chicago. 

The California company’s flagship store in Chicago currently sits at 679 N. Michigan Ave., but Crain’s Chicago Business, citing sources familiar with the North Michigan Avenue retail market, reports that the company will likely make 401 N. Michigan Ave. its new home.

Crain's reports the new location will be mostly below ground but will be accessible from the street through a glass structure on Pioneer Court. 

A potential move was first reported by the business publication last August, with Topshop and Saks Fifth Avenue stores among the initially scouted locations.  

Apple's Mag Mile storefront is 11 years old and could be seen as outdated when compared to other flagship stores like one of the company’s New York locations, which has customers walk in through the glass box.

Apple would be a valuable tenant for many landlords in the area.

The company’s North Avenue location on the city’s North Side has been hailed for its retail value after moving into the site of a former gas station in the wildly congested North & Clybourn corridor.

Greg Merdinger, a veteran Chicago developer, tells Crain’s the store “made the location,” turning it from good to great.

Apple Inc. could not immediately be reached for comment.

<![CDATA[Kraft Heinz Slashing 2,500 Jobs in US, Canada]]> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 19:53:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-120340053.jpg

Kraft Heinz says it is cutting about 2,500 jobs as part of its plan to slash costs after the food companies combined.

Spokesman Michael Mullen says affected workers are in the U.S. and Canada and were to be notified in person. About 700 of the cuts were coming at Kraft's Northfield, Illinois, headquarters. The company would not specify where other cuts were taking place.

"We appreciate the many contributions our colleagues have made to our Company, and we are committed to treating all impacted individuals with the utmost respect and dignity throughout this process," Mullen said in a statement. "We regret the impact this has on employees and their families."

The Kraft Heinz Co. said it has a total of around 46,600 employees.

The job cuts are not surprising, given the reputation of the company's management on Wall Street.

The combination of Pittsburgh-based Heinz and Kraft earlier this year was engineered by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, which has become known for its tight cost controls.

Bernardo Hees — a 3G partner — is CEO of the merged Kraft Heinz.

Hees had already overseen cost-cutting at Heinz since the ketchup maker was taken over in 2013 through a previous partnership between 3G and Berkshire. That means the cuts announced Wednesday mostly affect people on the Kraft side of the business.

Together, the two U.S. food giants own brands including Jell-O, Heinz baked beans and Velveeta that are facing sales challenges amid changing tastes. Their combination was nevertheless seen as attractive because of the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by combining functions like manufacturing and distribution.

Executives say they expect to save $1.5 billion in annual costs by 2017.

In a statement, Mullen said Wednesday the job cuts were part of the company's process of integrating the two businesses and "designing our new organization."

"This new structure eliminates duplication to enable faster decision-making, increased accountability and accelerated growth," Mullen said. He said employees will be given severance benefits of at least six months.

Already, Kraft Heinz had been belt-tightening in recent weeks.

In a memo to employees dated July 13, Hees outlined a variety of "provisional measures" the company was taking to avoid unnecessary spending. That included instructing workers to print on both sides of paper, reuse office supplies like binders and file folders, and turn off computers before leaving the office.

Corporate donations to charities also had to be approved, as did memberships in industry associations, the memo said.

At its office in Northfield, where Kraft was based, the company also stopped providing free Kraft snacks like Jell-O. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Announces Plans for 1,000 Jobs in Illinois]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 10:48:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/amazon+warehouse.jpg

The Seattle-based online retailing giant Amazon.com has announced plans for a warehouse in Joliet that will create 1,000 full-time jobs when it opens.

Amazon made the announcement Monday. The company plans a nearly 500,000-square-foot fulfillment center where workers will process items such as books and electronics.

Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk says in a joint news release with the company that city officials are excited about prospect of what he calls "quality jobs for a diverse community" in the region.

Will County Center for Economic Development CEO John Greuling says his group looks forward to "a long successful partnership" with Amazon.

Amazon's employment website says its warehouse workers must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and must be able to lift up to 49 pounds.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Cuts 225 Jobs in Push to Revive Business]]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 15:25:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-Blitz-Box.jpg

McDonald's says it is cutting about 225 corporate jobs as part of a push intended to revitalize its flagging business.

The world's biggest hamburger chain says the cuts include about 135 positions at its corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, where it says it has about 2,100 employees. An additional 90 positions are being cut overseas, the company said. It says employees were notified last month.

The move comes as McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook has vowed to reorganize the company so it can react more quickly to the changing fast-food industry. As sales have struggled, McDonald's has conceded that it failed to keep pace with changing tastes. In its flagship U.S. market, the company last month reported its seventh straight quarterly decline in sales at established locations.

McDonald's also cut 63 jobs in December and 65 more in January at its headquarters, said Jeff Mochal, a McDonald's spokesman. The previous cuts were related to the removal of a management layer between U.S. franchisees and the corporate office, he said.

The latest round of cuts in July, which affected a variety of positions for global operations, brings the total number of job reductions since late last year to more than 350.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target to Rename State Street Store as 'Target']]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 07:17:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/loop+target+new+chicago.jpg

State Street’s CityTarget store is about to become… a Target.

The retailer announced in a blog post Tuesday that the State Street store, and 13 other CityTarget and TargetExpress locations across the country, would be renamed as “Target” stores.

“Big or small, our stores have one thing in common: They’re all Target. Guests can walk into a Target store of any shape or size and find great merchandise, helpful team members, clean, bright aisles and incredible value,” the Minnesota-based company wrote. “What better way to stand behind that promise than with our own Bullseye?”

The Loop store first opened in 2012 in the historic Sullivan Center location once occupied by Carson Pirie Scott.

The 124,000-square-foot store, two-floor location features a pharmacy, groceries, apparel, accessories, toys, sporting goods, electronics and Chicago-themed merchandise.

The renamed stores will be rebranded with the company’s name and logo beginning in October.

The company also noted that it has six new stores scheduled to open in October, including one in Chicago that will be a “smaller, flexible format” store.

“Rest assured, they will all be Target,” the company wrote.  

<![CDATA[Comcast Hires 200 Employees in Chicago Area]]> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:15:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/comcast-lobby.jpg

Comcast has announced that it is hiring about 200 new employees in the Chicago area.

The announcement comes as part of an intiative to “enhance the customer experience.”

The new hires will join 75 existing Workforce Operations employees to create two new centers, including a ‘Technician Support Center’ and ‘Technician Logistics Center,’ the company said in a statement.

The workers will schedule, monitor and support technicians in the field, who do installations and make service visits to customers’ homes and businesses.

The new employees will work out of the company’s Elmhurst facility and serve customers in the Chicago area and Illinois, as well as other Midwest and Southeast states. 

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Business Journal]]>
<![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[McDonald's' 'Secret Menu' Not So Secret Anymore]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:02:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/167*120/51122973.jpg

The mythical “secret menu” at McDonald’s may not be a myth at all.

According to a McDonald’s manager who conducted a recent Reddit AMA, customers can in fact order secret menu items, but the items really aren’t that secret.

Reddit user OrchidHibiscus, who claims to be a manager at a McDonald’s in Glasgow, Scotland, said McDonald’s didn’t specifically develop a secret menu, but menu items can be customized into “grill orders.”

Customers can add or take out ingredients from current menu items to make them into what they want—including something off a so-called “secret menu.”

"Order one and the workers might not know it by name ... but if you explain what it is, and are willing to pay for all the ingredients, it's just another 'grill order' that we can make up," OrchidHibiscus wrote.

The user referred to rumored secret menu items like the Land, Sea and Air Burger, which is a combination of a Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChicken.

A website called #HackTheMenu claims to have a list of “secret menu items” from McDonald's, including an “All American,” a “Big McChicken,” “Biscuits and Gravy,” and a “Chicken McGriddle.”

McDonald’s addresses the possibility of a secret menu on its website saying, “We have no secret menu – or do we?”

“Actually, our customers are pretty clever when it comes to customizing their orders with our menu items, so you may have seen some of their creations online,” the company wrote. “But we have no official secret menu of our own.”

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.

<![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[Kraft Business Headquarters to Move to Chicago]]> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:18:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kraft-headquarters-wikipedi.jpg

Kraft Heinz says it is relocating the headquarters of the Kraft business from Northfield, Illinois, to downtown Chicago early next year.

Spokesman Michael Mullen said in an emailed statement on Thursday that the company signed a long-term lease agreement to have employees on five floors of the AON Center.

Mullen said the move brings Kraft back to its roots, as Chicago was where founder J.L. Kraft first started selling cheese to local merchants in 1903.

“You have a Fortune 50 company saying that when they think of their future, it’s with Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told NBC Chicago of the move. “It brings hundreds and hundreds of jobs and economic opportunities that come with it and it keeps the momentum going.”

Heinz will keep its headquarters in Pittsburgh.

"Kraft started in Chicago and I could not be more pleased that the company is returning to its roots – recognizing the talent we have, the growing and vibrant business community that we have, and the opportunities that exist in Chicago to connect with more customers and companies," Emanuel said in an earlier statement.

Earlier this month Kraft shareholders approved the sale of the company to ketchup maker H.J. Heinz, creating one of the world's largest food companies with annual revenue of about $28 billion. The deal was first announced in March.

The combined company will have in its stable brands that, in addition to Kraft and Heinz, include Jell-O, Oscar Mayer, Velveeta and Ore-Ida.

Shares of Kraft Heinz Co. gained $1.26 to $77.97 in morning trading.

Emanuel said to expect more big moves of this kind for the city.

“We are not done on the corporate recruitment, just so you know," he said. "We are on it all the time. We are [currently] active with four or five companies."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[General Mills Plans to Close Facility in Illinois]]> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 10:20:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*121/110439859.jpg

General Mills says that it has tentatively decided to close an Illinois plant over the next few years, but will consult first with the union that represents the facility.

The food maker is looking to get rid of excess cereal and dry dinner capacity as part of its ongoing effort to meet consumers' changing tastes.

Big packaged food makers have been stung by shoppers' interest in foods they see as healthier or more natural. Cereal sales also have suffered because of the popularity of gluten-free or high-protein diets.

General Mills said in a regulatory filing Thursday that if the facility is closed, it may impact about 500 jobs. The company plans negotiations and consultation with the union that represents workers at the West Chicago, Illinois, facility, before closing it.

General Mills Inc. — which makes Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and other packaged foods — anticipates taking about $70 million in charges in fiscal 2016 related to the planned action. It expects the plant to be closed by the end of fiscal 2019, with a total cost of about $120 million.

General Mills is also closing a snacks manufacturing plant in Joplin, Missouri. The move will result in the loss of about 120 jobs. The company expects about $11 million in charges in fiscal 2016 tied to the action. The closing is targeted to be completed by fiscal 2018's end. The total cost is expected to be approximately $12 million.

The company's stock added 20 cents to $57.01 in morning trading Thursday. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![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[Eataly Now Delivers]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 23:37:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Eataly_caviar-service_WEB+2.jpg

You can now get Eataly’s fresh Italian fare delivered straight to your home or office.

The popular eatery has teamed up with premium food delivery service Caviar to give Chicagoans the option to order the counter goods straight to their door if they can’t stop in the 65,000-square-foot River North storefront.

“Choose from a selection of panini, focaccia, pastry, salumi and formaggi, chips, and sodas, and order on your smartphone or computer.,” the company announced on their website.

The service will also include group-sized offerings such as platters of panini, focaccia, vegetables, and salumi and formaggi.

Delivery can take anywhere from 50 to 70 minutes.

Those who try the new service before Wednesday will receive a voucher for a complimentary glass of wine during their next visit.

For more information and to see the full delivery menu, visit their website here

Photo Credit: Eataly]]>
<![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[Willis Group Joins With Towers Watson in $18B Deal]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:28:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+getty.jpg

The insurer Willis Group Holdings PLC will tie up with Towers Watson in an all-stock deal valued at about $18 billion.

The combined company will be called Willis Towers Watson and will have about $8.2 billion in revenue and approximately 39,000 employees. Willis shareholders will own approximately 50.1 percent, and Towers Watson shareholders will own about 49.9 percent of the business.

The company will be based in Ireland, where Willis has its headquarters. Towers Watson is based in Arlington, Virginia.

Willis and Towers expect between $100 million and $125 million in cost savings within three years of closing.

Shareholders of financial services company Towers Watson & Co. will receive 2.6490 Willis shares for each Towers share. They will also receive a one-time cash dividend of $4.87 per Towers share.

Willis expects to enact a reverse stock split that would result in one Willis share being converted into 0.3775 Willis Towers Watson shares. If the reverse stock split is approved by shareholders, Towers Watson shareholders will receive one share of Willis Towers Watson for each Towers Watson share.

The deal is not contingent on Willis shareholders approving the reverse stock split.

Towers Watson Chairman and CEO John Haley will serve as CEO, while Willis CEO Dominic Casserley will become president and deputy CEO.

The new board will have 12 members, with six directors being nominated by each company.

The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which is targeted to close by year's end. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![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[Cold Stone Creamery to Open in River North]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:51:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/11391771_10152917147235920_4577845062640611823_n.jpg

Residents of Chicago’s Near North Side will soon be within arm’s reach of ice cream creations from Cold Stone Creamery, as the company announced a new downtown location set to open this summer.

In an effort to bring the brand back as a city mainstay, franchise group Chicago Scoops will open the doors to its second storefront at 20 W. Ohio St. in early August, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The group opened its first Cold Stone in 2014 at 1316 S. Halsted St. in University Village.

Chicago Scoops President Kyle Welch told the Tribune the University Village shop was the first of 24 stores that opened in the group's first year of operation.

Welch told the publication previous Cold Stone stores run by other franchisees had been closed for years and "the people want it back."

Photo Credit: Facebook/ColdStoneCreamery]]>
<![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[Flight Attendants Sue Boeing, Claim Toxic Fumes in Aircraft]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 23:29:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/boeing-building-Getty.jpg

Four flight attendants have filed a lawsuit against Boeing, claiming toxic air from an engine leaked into their plane and made them seriously ill on a 2013 flight.

A lawyer for the four said Tuesday that Boeing has known for decades about the potential danger of drawing warm air off jet engines to heat airplane cabins.

Boeing Co. declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in an Illinois state court in Chicago.

Similar allegations have been raised before. In 2011, Boeing settled a case brought by an American Airlines flight attendant; terms were sealed.

In April, a British coroner reported that samples from a British Airways pilot who died in 2012 were "consistent with exposure" to toxic fumes in cabin air. The airline said research shows that the level of dangerous fumes in planes isn't high enough to pose a health risk.

So-called bleed air is used to heat the cabins on most commercial planes, although Boeing's newest aircraft, the 787 or Dreamliner, uses a different system.

The Federal Aviation Administration says studies have shown cabin air is as good as air in offices and homes, but a spokeswoman said the agency is concerned that contaminants can get in if equipment fails. Airlines are required to report incidents involving fumes, and FAA says from 1990 to 2010 there were about 900 of those. U.S. airlines operate about 9 million flights a year, according to government figures.

Boeing has repeatedly said that independent, industry and government researchers have found that cabin air meets health and safety standards.

But lawyers for the flight attendants suing Boeing say that company documents suggest Boeing knew of the risk that bleed air could contain dangerous byproducts of burning engine oil. They said that a Boeing engineer tried but failed to draw management's attention to the issue, concluding in a 2007 email: "Bottom line is I think we are looking for a tombstone before anyone with any horsepower is going to take interest."

The women were working for Alaska Airlines when they say that all four became sick and two passed out during a Boston-to-San Diego flight. The one-year-old Boeing 737 jet made an emergency landing in Chicago, and all four were taken to hospitals, according to the lawsuit.

Even weeks later, "I knew something was seriously wrong with me. I just was not the same person," one of the flight attendants, Vanessa Woods, said on conference call with reporters Tuesday. She said she suffered from fatigue, tremors, memory loss and concentration problems and was unable to return to work.

Lawyers for the women said they weren't aware of any passengers who got sick. They attributed that to the women having been on the plane longer, before passengers began boarding, and that the air might have been more toxic higher in the cabin where standing flight attendants would breathe it. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![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[Noodles & Co. President and COO Kinsey Resigns]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:53:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/022109+Noodles+and+Company.jpg

The restaurant chain Noodles & Co. announced Monday that President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Kinsey is resigning to become CEO of a casual dining restaurant business.

Noodles' didn't identify where Kinsey was going in its news release, but Crain's Chicago Business reported that he was going to join Portillo's Restaurant Group, a seller of hot dogs and other food.

Kinsey has worked at Noodles & Co. since 2005. He's served as president since July 2012 and COO since November 2007. He previously served as chief financial officer from July 2005 to July 2012.

Kinsey's responsibilities will be reallocated to other members of Noodles & Co.'s management.

He will also step down from the company's board, Noodles said.

Noodles & Co., based in Broomfield, Colorado, had 455 locations in 33 states and the District of Columbia as of March 31. It went public on June 28, 2013. At the time it was the best performing IPO since April 2012, with a first-day gain of 104 percent to $36.75. The stock has declined since then, closing at $16.58 on Friday.

The shares added 15 cents to $16.73 in Monday morning trading. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[Illinois Unemployment Holds at 6 Percent]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:48:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/unemployment7.jpg

Illinois' unemployment rate held steady again in May as the state added temporary and government jobs but lost manufacturing positions.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Thursday that the May unemployment rate was 6 percent. That's the same level as it was in April and just higher than the 5.5 percent May national rate.

According to the department, professional and business services firms added a net 6,900 jobs in May. Many of those companies provide temporary workers. Leisure and hospitality employment rolls grew by 3,300 jobs and government employers added a net 2,300 jobs.

The state's manufacturers lost more jobs than any other sector, 2,500 in all. Trade, transportation and utilities companies cut a net 2,300 jobs.

The number of unemployed people dropped .3 percent in May to 392,000.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![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[Game 4 Win Means Free Iced Coffee for Hawks Fans]]> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 10:29:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dd-Hot+and+Iced+Coffee.jpg

Dunkin' Donuts will once again offer free iced coffees in celebration of another Hawks victory.

Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Chicago will give away free medium iced coffees to Hawks fans via the chain’s app Thursday.

The offer is only available Thursday at participating stores in the Chicago area.

The Blackhawks took Game 4 Wednesday night with a 2-1 win, tieing the series at 2-2. They will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 in Florida Saturday.

Photo Credit: Dunkin' Donuts
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Website Problems Prompt Southwest to Extend Fare Sale]]> Fri, 05 Jun 2015 06:18:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/southwest-airlines-new-livery-01.jpg

Southwest Airlines has extended its 72-hour fare sale after “high customer demand” caused problems with its website.

The sale, which began Tuesday and was slated to end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, will now continue through Friday, the airline said in a message on its website.

“We apologize for any difficulties you may be experiencing on Southwest.com in connection with high Customer demand,” the message read. “You may also experience higher than normal hold times via our reservation call centers. Please know we are working to fix the issue as soon as possible. The sale has been extended through Friday 6/5 to give you extra time to book.”

The sale includes flights from Aug. 24 through Dec. 16. and offers one-way tickets as low as $49.

Destinations involved in the sale include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Memphis, Denver, Boston, Minneapolis and Orlando, among many others.

The airline did a similar deal last year when it offered winter discounts at similar rates. Also last year, Frontier Airlines offered discounted one-way tickets for as low as $29.

Click here to see a list of available offers from Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines]]>
<![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[Uber Petitions for Pick-Ups at Airports]]> Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:06:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ORD-taxi-line.jpg

Ride-share company Uber has launched an online petition in an effort to get the city to lift its ban on pick-ups at Chicago's two international airports.

"Chicago is a world-class city that needs world-class transportation options," the petition states. "More takeoffs and landings take place at Chicago’s airports than any other in the world, and right now, travelers don’t have enough choices to get to where they’re going."

Current rules allow ride-share companies to drop-off customers only. Pick-ups are reserved for licensed taxis and liveries, which pay an additional city tax that ride-share companies avoid. But that restriction leaves some travelers frustrated with long wait times and asking for more options.

"Wednesdays and Thursdays [wait times are] like really long. You're going to be waiting like 45 minutes in the taxi line. So on those days, Uber would be good," business traveler Joyce Harrington said Thursday at O'Hare International Airport.

A spokesperson with the United Taxi Driver's Community Council said travelers should be wary of ride-share services. The spokesperson told NBC Chicago that drivers are not fingerprinted or subject to drug testing. Many also carry inadequate insurance, and their vehicles are not inspected by city officials.

Taxi advocates point out that it's not a lack of cabs that's the problem for consumers but agree that reforms are needed to the dispatching system to get travelers in vehicles faster and en route to their destinations. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this week reiterated that he has no plans to reform Chicago's ride-share rules anytime soon. 

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts Offers Free Iced Coffee After Hawks Win]]> Thu, 04 Jun 2015 07:06:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dd-Hot+and+Iced+Coffee.jpg

Blackhawks fans might be tired from celebrating Wednesday, but they can at least get free coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts thanks to the team’s exciting win.

Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Chicago will offer a free medium iced coffee to Hawks fans via the chain’s app Thursday.

The offer is only available Thursday at participating stores in the Chicago area.

The Blackhawks entered the Stanley Cup Final with a bang Wednesday night when they scored a 2-1 victory in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Photo Credit: Dunkin' Donuts
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[United Apologizes to Muslim Woman for Soda Can Incident]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 20:53:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/united+airlines+copy.jpg

A flight attendant who refused a passenger an unopened can of soda because she might "use it as a weapon" will no longer serve United Airlines customers, the airline said in a Wednesday apology to the passenger. 

The incident between the flight attendant and Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, happened last week on a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C. 

In a post to Facebook, Ahmad wrote about her denied request for an an unopened can of Diet Coke. Ahmad said  the flight attendant refused, telling her unopened cans could be used as weapons and it was against policy to hand them out. When Ahmad pointed out that the flight attendant had given the man next to her an unopened can of beer, she said the flight attendant repeated, "It's so you don't use it as a weapon."

Instead of getting support from onlookers, a man an aisle away from Ahmad mentioned her religion and yelled, "Yes you know you would use it as a WEAPON so shut the f**k up," she wrote.

"At that point I just felt like crawling into my seat and I had tears in my eyes," she told NBC Chicago earlier this week. "It was utter humiliation."

United Airlines flight 3504 was operated by Shuttle America, which is owned by Republic Airways Holdings. The Indianapolis-based Shuttle America said in a statement Monday that the company doesn't enforce rules about serving unopened cans.

Chicago-based United Airlines initially called the incident a "misunderstanding," but offered a formal apology to Ahmad on Wednesday.

"While United did not operate the flight, Ms. Ahmad was our customer and we apologize to her for what occurred on the flight. After investigating this matter, United has ensured that the flight attendant, a Shuttle America employee, will no longer serve United customers."

The statement continued: "United does not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory – or that appears to be discriminatory - against our customers or employees."

It was unclear from United's statement if the flight attendant had been fired or just banned from United planes, or just not "serving customers" on planes.

Ahmad earlier this week said she felt United Airlines "trivialized" the issue, adding that it was "not about a can of diet soda."

"United can’t simply say that they stand for diversity inclusion on paper," she said. "You know this needs to be something that’s enacted upon."

NBC Chicago on Wednesday evening reached out to Ahmad for reaction to the latest statement from United Airlines.

<![CDATA[New Taco Bell Will Be First to Serve Alcohol]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 15:48:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wicker-park-taco-bell-3.jpg

Soon, you may be able to get your Taco Bell and your beer all in one location in Wicker Park.

The new location, at 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave., opens this summer with beer, wine and mixed alcohol drinks on the menu.

"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," a company spokeswoman 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."

The Chicago location will be the first ever to serve alcoholic beverages.

There were rumors that the Wicker Park location would  be made into the second U.S. Taco Co., an upscale Taco Bell restaurant in Huntington Beach, Calif., that serves tacos with high-quality ingredients like grilled mahi mahi, lobster and grilled manchego cheese. A spokesperson for Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, told Eater that the restaurant would not be a U.S. Taco Co., however. 

The new location will have some taco-friendly neighbors, like Big Star, Flash Taco and Antique Taco. It's likely that serving alcohol will allow the chain to better compete with the independently owned restaurants that surround it.

The spokeswoman, Ashley Sioson, did not have an exact opening date for the new location.

<![CDATA[Southwest Airlines Launches 72-Hour Summer Fare Sale]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 10:09:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/southwest-airlines-avion.jpg

Southwest Airlines has launched a summer fare sale offering one-way tickets as low as $49 to certain locations around the country.

The sale, which began Tuesday, goes until 11:59 p.m. Thursday and includes flights from Aug. 24 through Dec. 16.

Destinations involved in the sale include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Memphis, Denver, Boston, Minneapolis and Orlando, among many others.

The airline did a similar deal last year when it offered winter discounts at similar rates. Also last year, Frontier Airlines offered discounted one-way tickets for as low as $29. 

Here are the flight offers from Chicago’s Midway Airport, according to Southwest.com:

From $49:

• Cleveland, OH
• Columbus, OH
• Des Moines, IA
• Detroit, MI
• Kansas City, MO
• Louisville, KY
• Memphis, TN
• Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
• Omaha, NE
• Pittsburgh, PA
• St. Louis, MO

From $99:

• Atlanta, GA
• Austin, TX
• Baltimore/Washington, MD
• Birmingham, AL
• Boston Logan, MA
• Charlotte, NC
• Denver, CO
• Hartford, CT
• Houston (Hobby), TX
• Jacksonville, FL
• Little Rock, AR
• Manchester, NH
• New Orleans, LA
• New York/Newark, NJ
• New York (LaGuardia), NY
• Norfolk, VA
• Orlando, FL
• Philadelphia, PA
• Providence, RI
• Raleigh/Durham, NC
• Rochester, NY
• San Antonio, TX
• Tampa, FL
• Tulsa, OK
• Washington (Dulles), DC
• Washington (Reagan National), DC
• Wichita, KS

From $129:

• Albuquerque, NM
• Ft. Lauderdale, FL
• Ft. Myers, FL
• Las Vegas, NV
• Los Angeles, CA
• Oakland, CA
• Ontario/LA, CA
• Phoenix, AZ
• Salt Lake City, UT
• San Francisco, CA
• San Jose, CA

From $149:

• Portland, OR
• Sacramento, CA
• San Diego, CA
• Seattle/Tacoma, WA

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![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[Taco Bell, Pizza Hut to Boot Artificial Ingredients]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 12:23:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/taco+bell+getty.jpg

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut say they're getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing.

Instead of "black pepper flavor," for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain's chief food innovation officer.

The Mexican-style chain also says the artificial dye Yellow No. 6 will be removed from its nacho cheese, Blue No. 1 will be removed from its avocado ranch dressing and carmine, a bright pigment, will be removed from its red tortilla strips.

Matthews said some of the new recipes are being tested in select markets and should be in stores nationally by the end of the year.

The country's biggest food makers are facing pressure from smaller rivals that position themselves as more wholesome alternatives. Chipotle in particular has found success in marketing itself as an antidote to traditional fast food. In April, Chipotle announced it had removed genetically modified organisms from its food, even though the Food and Drug Administration says GMOs are safe.

Critics say the purging of chemicals is a response to unfounded fears over ingredients, but companies are nevertheless rushing to ensure their recipes don't become disadvantages. In recent months, restaurant chains including Panera, McDonald's and Subway have said they're switching recipes for one or more products to use ingredients people can more easily recognize.

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, said companies are realizing some ingredients may not be worth the potential harm they might cause to their images, given changing attitudes about additives.

Additionally, he noted that the removal of artificial ingredients can be a way for companies to give their food a healthy glow without making meaningful changes to their nutritional profiles. For instance, Coupland said reducing salt, sugar or portion sizes would have a far bigger impact on public health.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are owned by Yum Brands Inc., which had hinted the changes would be on the way. At a conference for investors late last year, Yum CEO Greg Creed referred to the shifting attitudes and the desire for "real food" as a revolution in the industry.

Representatives at KFC and Yum's corporate headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky were not immediately available to comment on whether the fried chicken chain would also be removing artificial ingredients.

Pizza Hut says it will remove artificial flavors and colors by the end of July. It said it will start listing all it ingredients online once the changes are completed.

Taco Bell says it will take out artificial colors, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil from its food by the end of 2015. It says artificial preservatives will be removed "where possible" by 2017. The moves do not affect fountain drinks or co-branded products, such as its Doritos-flavored taco shells.

Brian Niccol, the chain's CEO, said the company would work to keep its menu affordable.

"I do not want to lose any element of being accessible to the masses," Niccol said.

When asked whether the changes would affect taste, a representative for Taco Bell said in an email that "It will be the same great tasting Taco Bell that people love." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![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[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[McDonald's CEO "Proud" of Pay Hike]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 20:06:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonald%27s+logo+getty.jpg

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said Thursday he was "incredibly proud" of a decision to bump pay for some workers, even after protesters called on the company to do more outside its annual shareholder meeting.

Easterbrook, who stepped into his role in March, is fighting to revive sluggish sales and convince people that McDonald's is a "modern, progressive burger company." But the push comes at a time when protests for pay of $15 an hour and a union have been spreading around the country.

Hundreds of protesters turned out in Oak Brook, Illinois on Wednesday and Thursday before the company's meeting.

McDonald's had said in April that it would raise pay for workers at company-owned stores to at least $1 above the local minimum wage and let them earn paid time off. It will also offer up to $700 in college tuition help to eligible workers at all stores.

Labor organizers and workers have dismissed the move on pay in part because they say it leaves so many workers out in the cold. The vast majority of the more than 14,300 McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. are owned by franchisees. McDonald's has stood by its position that it doesn't control pay decisions at franchised locations.

During the meeting, the company got support from at least one shareholder, who said that actress Sharon Stone and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos were among those who have worked at McDonald's. If the chain paid $15, he said, those people would still be working at McDonald's.

Members of Corporate Accountability, a regular critic of McDonald's marketing practices, also repeated their request that the company retire Ronald McDonald and stop marketing to children.

But Easterbrook defended the company's use of the red-headed clown, who he noted recently got a new outfit that makes him feel "trendier."

"With regards to Ronald, Ronald's here to stay," Easterbrook said.

Shareholders also approved a proposal to give investors access to the director nomination process. The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which filed the proposal, had said the costs to put forward nominees for board seats could be "prohibitive" under the current system.

Institutional Investor Services and Glass Lewis, two proxy advisory firms, had backed the proposal.

McDonald's had opposed the proposal, which it said could enable shareholders with "special interests" to nominate directors and "introduce a potentially expensive and destabilizing dynamic" into its board election process.

Becca Hary, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said the company would evaluate the advisory vote "and the board will consider it to determine what's appropriate."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suit Filed Over Smiling Cookie]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 19:24:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012510701_1200x675_448990787812.jpg Pennsylvania restaurant says a Chicago company's cookie is too similar to its trademark.]]> <![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[McDonald's Shuts Down Restaurant Amid Rally]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 20:56:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fight-for-15---1.jpg

McDonald's shut down a restaurant near its headquarters Wednesday after the area was swamped by hundreds of protesters calling for pay of $15 an hour and a union.

The restaurant was closed because of traffic concerns, said Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a spokeswoman for McDonald's. The company also told employees in a building targeted by protesters they should work from home, she said.

The start of the two-day demonstration comes ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. Last year, McDonald's also closed a building because of a protest, and more than 100 people were later arrested after refusing to leave corporate property.

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 everyday. 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.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![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[Superdawg Founder Maurie Berman Dies at 89]]> Sun, 17 May 2015 16:04:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/maurie+berman.jpg

Maurie Berman, founder of Chicago’s Northwest Side hot dog institution Superdawg, died early Sunday in hospice care in Glenview, according to his family. He was 89.

One of the first drive-in fast food joints of its time, Maurie and his wife, Flaurie, have been immortalized in cartoon hot dog form atop Superdawg at 6363 N. Milwaukee for 67 years, a beacon of joy for encased meats enthusiasts for generations.

Maurie Berman returned from World War II, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and studied at Northwestern University with Flaurie, his Von Steuben High School sweetheart, said his son Scott Berman, who manages the day-to-day operations of the Norwood Park restaurant.

The two were married in 1947. He was training to be an accountant and his wife a Chicago Public Schools teacher, but seeing other GIs returning from the war and starting small hot dog stands with walking carts, Maurie got the idea for a restaurant where people could be served without leaving their cars, his son said.

Superdawg opened on May 8, 1948, with the couple originally looking to pay tuition costs in the summer, but soon it became a full-time operation, according to his family. As their family grew, so did their number of employees.

“We learned our ABCs in the restaurant,” said Maurie’s daughter Lisa Drucker, who also helps manage Superdawg. “All of our family grew up together learning the business. It was a really special culture we created. We all know our way around the grill.”

Superdawg pre-dates fast-food giants McDonald’s and Burger King, and Maurie Berman turned down offers to join such corporations to focus on his own restaurant, his family said.

“He wanted to create an experience unique and enjoyable for everyone who walked in the door, and he knew that you lose that personal experience when you start getting bigger and bigger. He had the pride and tenacity to stay true to what it was,” Scott Berman said.

Maurie kept showing up for work every day and chatting up customers until the last few months when heart ailments began hindering him, his family said.

“He was a brilliant man with a simple approach, and he was completely devoted to his family and his customers,” Scott Berman said.

The Berman family now is entering its third generation of Superdawg workers, after Maurie Berman’s great-granddaughter Talia chipped in at the restaurant last weekend, his family said.

He is survived by his wife, Flaurie; children Lisa, Myles and Scott; and grandchildren Alyssa, Laura, Steffie, Max and Ross.

Funeral arrangements hadn’t been made Sunday afternoon, but both Superdawg locations will be closed Tuesday in Maurie’s memory.

Photo Credit: Superdawg]]>
<![CDATA[Food Trends, Tech on Display at 2015 Resto Show]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 17:45:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/3D-food-3dsystems-1.jpg

From edible 3D creations to alcohol-infused whipped cream to sustainable salmon, the 2015 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago is giving restaurateurs a proverbial taste of what could be the next big hit for their customers.

The May 16-19 show at McCormick Place is among the city's largest conventions, bringing in more than 60,000 people from more than 100 countries around the globe for a preview of the latest in restaurant technology and foods.

Among the most eye-catching pieces is the ChefJet Pro, a 3D printer that, for about $20,000, creates intricate, edible sculptures. 

"We work with powdered sugar. ... We print in really fine layers to build up really complex, beautiful objects like this which is used to decorate a cake," said 3D Systems' Kyle Von Hasseln.

Several items of the show and its companion exhibit -- BAR -- focus on the most profitable item in any restaurant: alcohol.

There's a computerized bartender than creates a cocktail in just seconds, a blast chiller to frost your glass, and 28-proof alcohol-infused whipped cream.

"Every flavor is an award-winning flavor, so you can take anything you would put whip cream on and make that product an adult product," said Ken Ball with Temperature Distilling.

Other big food trends at the 2015 show are gluten-free foods and sustainable products, like salmon from the Pacific Seafood company. There are also products that expand into other areas of a restaurant operation, like an umbrella that does double-duty as a solar-powered charging station.

"You have eight solar panels on the top. Solar energy feeds down our smart tube into our smart charging hub, so guests can charge whatever mobile device they have as long as it has a USB port," explained Zon's Emily Paffhausen.

The show helps fill more than 70 Chicago-area hotels and pumps $115 million into the local economy.

Photo Credit: 3DSystems]]>
<![CDATA[Mondelez to Cut Up to 600 Jobs at Chicago Bakery]]> Sat, 16 May 2015 17:43:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/oreo+getty.jpg

Mondelez International plans to cut several hundred jobs at a Chicago bakery that makes Chips Ahoy, Oreo cookies and other snack foods.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company said Friday the total number of layoffs will depend on a decision about where to locate four new manufacturing lines.

Spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati says that if the new lines are located at the Chicago site, 300 jobs would be cut.

If those lines are instead installed at a new plant in Salinas, Mexico, 600 jobs will be lost in Chicago.

The four high-speed, high-tech lines would replace nine of the 16 lines at the Chicago bakery.

About 1,200 people work at the Chicago plant, the company's largest U.S. bakery. It also produces brands such as Nutter Butter, Honey Maid and Ritz crackers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olive Garden's Latest Plan: Breadstick Sandwiches]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 13:01:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/olive+garden+breadsticks.jpg

Olive Garden's plan to win back customers? Take the breadsticks it's known for and make sandwiches out of them.

The restaurant chain owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. says it plans to use its breadsticks for chicken parmigiana and meatball sandwiches starting June 1.

The addition of the breadstick sandwiches are just the latest attempt to revamp Olive Garden's menu and marketing as sales have declined for the past three of its fiscal years. Justin Sikora, a Darden representative, said the breadsticks used for the sandwiches will be a bit shorter and wider than the regular breadsticks.

As with all other dishes, the sandwiches come with unlimited breadsticks.

Olive Garden's unlimited breadsticks gained attention last year during a dispute with an investor, Starboard Value. Among other criticisms, Starboard said Darden wasn't being disciplined in its distribution of breadsticks to customers. It also said the quality of the breadsticks seemed to have declined and compared them to hot dog buns.

Shortly after, Starboard won its bid to take control of Darden's board.

On Sunday, Starboard CEO Jeff Smith said during an interview on "Wall Street Week" that "it might surprise people that I actually like the breadsticks," and mentioned the plans to introduce breadstick sandwiches.

Smith also stressed that Starboard's criticism about the breadsticks was that Olive Garden wasn't following its own policy for how many breadsticks are placed on tables at a time.

As for the quality of the breadsticks, Sikora said the recipe for them hasn't changed. Sikora said the breadstick sandwiches are an example of the Olive Garden building on its most popular offerings.

The sandwiches will be available only on the chain's lunch menu. The meatball sandwich will cost $6.99 and the chicken parmigiana will cost $7.99, Sikora said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[McDonald's Key Sales Figure Dips in April]]> Sat, 09 May 2015 13:42:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/4707047541.jpg

McDonald's says a key sales metric edged lower in April, with weakness across most regions.

The world's biggest hamburger chain, which is in the midst of a turnaround plan, said Friday that global sales at established locations open at least 13 months fell 0.6 percent in April.

Paul Westra of Stifel Nicolaus said in a client note that the dip in the April sales figure was slightly better than the 1.8 percent decline that Consensus Metrix forecast.

In the U.S., the metric declined 2.3 percent due to ongoing competition and lower customer traffic.

The biggest drop by region was in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, which fell 3.8 percent. Ongoing challenges in Japan were partially offset by strong results in Australia and other markets.

Europe was a bright spot, up 1 percent, with solid performances in the U.K. and Germany somewhat offset by softness in Russia and France.

On Monday CEO Steve Easterbrook said that he will strip away the bureaucracy at McDonald's Corp. so the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company can move more nimbly to keep up with changing tastes. The overhaul comes as McDonald's profit dropped 15 percent last year, with sales dipping in regions around the world.

"We are moving quickly to deliver a better experience to our customers and to realize our vision to become a modern, progressive burger company," Easterbrook said in a written statement on Friday. The executive took charge of McDonald's on March 1.

To help make the right changes more quickly, McDonald's is restructuring its business into four units led by lean management teams.

The U.S. market, which accounts for more than 40 percent of operating profit, recently stripped away a level of field oversight and will be its own unit.

Another unit will be made up of established international markets such as Australia and the U.K., and another with high-growth markets such as China and Russia. The countries where McDonald's has a smaller presence will be grouped separately.

Previously, the units were segmented by geography rather than market type.

McDonald's has acknowledged the need to simplify food preparation as well. The company has already trimmed its menu to reduce complexity for workers and make it easier for customers to decide what they want.

The stock rose $1.48 to $98.26 in afternoon trading. Its shares have fallen about 3.4 percent over the past year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Groupon Offers $25K Perfect Child for Mother's Day]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 14:54:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/johnny+cadillac.jpg

If you can't spend time with your mom for Mother's Day, Groupon has the ideal gift you can give her: a perfect child to replace you -- for $25,000.

The Chicago-based company announced its Mother's Day gift, called "A Mother's Love is Priceless," on Thursday with a video promotion.

For just $25,000, you can "purchase" 26-year-old Johnny Cadillac, described as "a highly trained Groupon employee" who will spend Mother's Day with your mom and do all the things mothers are stereotypically known to want their children to do. This includes eating five full servings of vegetables, rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and being nice to your sister.

The entire package includes a Groupon employee who will spend 16 hours with your mom, airfare for the employee to travel to her home, a $5,000 shopping spree at your mom's favorite stores, a one-day stretch limo rental, house-cleaning services, a family photo and a nice family dinner for up to six people.

No word yet on whether this Groupon deal is actually a viable option, but if not, it wouldn't be the first time the company played a lighthearted trick on its customers. For April Fools' Day this year, the company promoted a fake launch of Grøüber, a transportation service with cats as drivers.

Photo Credit: Groupon
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Embracing New Ingredient: Kale]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 11:21:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/167*120/51122973.jpg

McDonald's may be developing a taste for a new ingredient as it fights to reinvent itself: Kale.

The world's biggest burger chain says it's testing two breakfast bowls in Southern California, one of which includes the leafy green as an ingredient.

The test comes as McDonald's Corp. works to shake its junk food image, with sales at established U.S. locations declining for six straight quarters. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the top spot March 1, has said he want to turn the chain into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Lisa McComb, a McDonald's representative, said in an email the kale is included in a Turkey Sausage & Egg White bowl, which also has spinach and bruschetta. The other option is a Chorizo & Egg bowl, which includes a hash brown, cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo.

On Wednesday, Janney analyst Mark Kalinowski had also noted on that McDonald's was introducing three salads in Canada that have kale as an ingredient.

The embrace of kale may seem odd to some, considering McDonald's recently ran an ad that celebrated the Big Mac and mocked trendy ingredients like soy, quinoa, Greek yogurt — and kale.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[Whole Foods Plans New Chain to Court Millennials]]> Wed, 06 May 2015 18:42:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/488633883_WholeFoods.jpg

Whole Foods is planning to open a new chain of stores that courts millennials with lower prices as it faces intensifying competition as a purveyor of organic and natural products.

The company said Wednesday it's building a team to focus exclusively on the new concept and that it's already negotiating leases. Stores are expected to start opening next year, followed by a "fairly rapid expansion," it said.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, said the stores will also appeal to younger customers with a "modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection."

A name for the new chain wasn't disclosed; the Austin, Texas-based company said more details will be shared before Labor Day.

The plans come as Whole Foods — which has more than 400 locations — has seen its sales growth slow as organic and natural foods become increasingly mainstream. That is pressuring the company to draw a sharper distinction between itself and competitors. Last year, for instance, it launched a program that ranks produce and flowers based on their environmental impact.

At the same time, Whole Foods is trying to appeal to a broader audience by combatting its "Whole Paycheck" image and keeping prices down. But that push is expected to nibble away at its profit margins.

The new chain tailored toward younger consumers could also pressure margins, given its focus on lower prices. But during a conference call, Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey said it will broaden the company's reach with a new generation of people interested in natural foods.

Mackey dismissed the suggestion that it might cannibalize sales at existing Whole Foods stores; he said he still thinks Whole Foods can triple its number of locations in the U.S.

The company said it will not need a new distribution network for the new concept.

For the three months ended April 12, Whole Foods said sales at established locations rose 3.6 percent, or 3.1 percent when excluding the benefit of the timing of Easter this year.

The figure, a key metric of health, fell short of the 5.3 percent increase analysts expected, according to FactSet. For the current quarter so far, the figure is up 2.8 percent.

Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc. dropped more than 11 percent to $42.40 after-hours.

Total sales were $3.65 billion for its second fiscal quarter, also falling short of the $3.71 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Profit rose 11 percent to $158 million, or 44 cents per share. That was a penny more than expected.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former MillerCoors VP Accused of Defrauding Company]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 02:55:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/170*120/103008+sun+times+millercoors1.jpeg

A former vice president at MillerCoors and seven other defendants are facing federal charges, accused of defrauding the company of at least $7 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago announced Wednesday.

Dave Colletti, 58, of Chicago, was charged with one count of wire fraud in a federal indictment filed Tuesday in Chicago. The seven other defendants also face fraud charges in the 20-count indictment.

The indictment did not identify Chicago-based MillerCoors, referring only to a brewing company as a victim in the case. But MillerCoors acknowledged the charges Wednesday and said it was satisfied with the investigation.

"All along we've sought justice for the millions of dollars stolen from our company as these actions are intolerable and inexcusable," MillerCoors said in a statement.

Colletti and the others had also been accused by MillerCoors of defrauding the company in a civil lawsuit filed last August in Milwaukee County.

According to prosecutors, Colletti worked with the other defendants to submit false invoices that billed for fictitious promotional and marketing events. Prosecutors say some of the defendants also arranged for Colletti to receive a portion of the payments.

Among the things the defendants are accused of using the money for are collectible firearms, international golf trips, hunting trips, investments in a hotel and bar and an arena football team, according to the indictment.

The government is seeking forfeiture of at least $7 million.

The others named in Tuesday's indictment were 61-year-old Roderick Groetzinger, of North Carolina; 53-year-old Andrew Vallozzi, of Florida; 72-year-old James Rittenberg, of Chicago; 68-year-old Scott Darst, of Las Vegas; 57-year-old Thomas Longhi, of Florida; 72-year-old Francis Buonauro Jr., of Florida; and 57-year-old Maryann Rozenberg, of Wisconsin. They worked for outside entities that claimed to provide third-party vendor services. Rozenberg also worked for the company from 1995 until 2008, before she created her own promotions company, according to prosecutors.

Colletti oversaw the marketing, promotion, and sale of beer for the company, according to the indictment. He worked for the company from 1982 until 2013 in both the Chicago and Milwaukee offices.

Colletti's attorney, Gene Murphy, said Wednesday he was working with federal authorities and MillerCoors to resolve all matters.

Longhi's attorney, Mitchell Beers, said he had no comment.

Messages left for attorneys of Darst, Groetzinger, Rittenberg and Rozeberg were not immediately returned. Lawyers for Vallazio and Buonauro could not immediately be found. A message left at Buonauro's home number was not immediately returned. Neither a home or work number could be found for Vallazio.

Vallazio was later dismissed out of the civil lawsuit but his company was still named, according to online court records. Buonauro was also dismissed from the civil lawsuit, along with his company F & B Marketing Promotions & Incentives LLC. There's a status conference set for August 28 in that civil case.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![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[Xfinity Retail Store to Hit Chicago]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 19:52:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-xfinity-store-1.jpg The 9,000 square foot "experience" store is scheduled to open in June. NBC Chicago's Charlie Wojciechowski reports.]]> <![CDATA[Chipotle Unveils Secret Recipe for Guacamole]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 14:52:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/476810321.jpg

Yes, everyone knows the guacamole costs extra – but now it doesn’t have to.

Chipotle has gifted us all with the secret recipe for their worth-every-penny guacamole, one day ahead of Cinco de Mayo celebrations on May 5.

The company says it starts with getting the best ingredients possible – but it only takes 7 simple steps for a batch made in heaven.

What you’ll need:

• 2 ripe Hass avocados (In the restaurant, we use 48 per batch, multiple times per day)
• 2 tsp lime juice
• 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
• 1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)
• 1/2 jalapeño, including seeds (finely chopped)
• 1/4 tsp kosher salt


How to do it:

1. Choose the right avocado. It should feel squishy yet firm (like the palm of your hand), and be a nice dark green color on the inside.
2. Cut the avocado in half and the remove the pit (carefully!)
3. Scoop the avocados and place in a medium bowl.
4. Toss and coat with lime juice.
5. Add the salt and using a fork or potato masher, mash until a smooth consistency is achieved.
6. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
7. Taste the guacamole (over and over) and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>