<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News - Inc. Well]]>Copyright 2018http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/businessen-usMon, 22 Jan 2018 20:17:53 -0600Mon, 22 Jan 2018 20:17:53 -0600NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Opinion: A Look at the New Samsung Galaxy S8]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:46:04 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/samsung+thumb.jpg

This is shaping up to be a good year for smart phones. We can expect to see significant changes in top of the line devices: better design, faster processors and refined voice control. The new Samsung Galaxy S8 is now first to market with many of these features. It is easily the best new phone so far this year.

The device, released last Friday is a striking balance of design and technology that improves on its predecessor in almost every way. The S8 feels solid and luxurious.


The first thing you notice is the screen, which seems to span from the top of the device to the bottom and pour over its sides. Samsung says it covers more than 80 percent of the front surface, but it looks like more.

The traditional home and navigation buttons are gone, replaced by virtual counterparts that appear along the bottom of the screen, sometimes hovering above the windows below. The virtual buttons include solid haptic feedback so that you don’t feel like you are pushing that elevator button that seems only connected to the light bulb behind it. The only other interruptions are a slim speaker at the top of the screen and tiny circular windows for the front-facing camera and an indicator light. All of the screen edge functions from the previous S7 series are carried over in the S8.

The 6.2” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen on our S8+ review unit is clear and extremely sharp -- 529 ppi. That’s something that becomes even more important when you strap the S8 into the available Gear VR headset. Samsung let us test our S8+ alongside that headset and its sleek Level Bluetooth wireless headphones. More on those later.

In the wake of the Note 7 recall, Samsung spent a lot of time working on the S8’s battery systems. Our S8+ comes with a 3500mHh battery that the company says gives it up to 24 hours of talk time. So far its been going two days between charges. That’s pretty good considering we are playing with the phone and its features quite a bit. 

Unlike Apple’s iPhone 7, Samsung isn’t pushing you towards that Bluetooth audio. The S8’s engineers managed to squeeze a traditional headphone jack along the bottom edge, right next to the USB-C charging and data port. They didn’t scrimp on the bundled ear buds either. The S8 comes with a nice pair of AKG-branded, 2-way buds that feel and sound like they are of higher quality than those usually tossed in the box with most smart phones. Last year, Samsung purchased AKG’s parent company, Harmon International. Expect to see more and better sound options in the months ahead. 

The phone is also chocked full of sensors. In addition to what you would expect, Samsung has included an iris sensor that can be used along with the phones security measures to replace passwords in some apps. Not to be confused with the iris sensor, the S8 also includes a facial recognition system that will unlock the phone simply by looking at it. That features takes only seconds to set up and works surprisingly quick. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back of the device where it shares space in a cluster that includes the camera, its flash and a heartbeat sensor. 

The rear camera is little changed from the unit on the S7. It boasts 12 MO and an f1.7 lens making it excellent for low-light photography. It shoots 4K video. The front-facing camera also features an f1.7 lens and 8 MP. Both front and back cameras are auto focusing. The back camera, though, can be switched into Pro Mode giving you control over focus, shutter speed, color temperature and white balance. It also lets you shoot RAW images to give you more information to work with in programs like Photoshop. There is also a Food Mode to punch up the colors when you share photos of your latest culinary creations on Facebook. 


The S8 ships with Android version 7.0, otherwise known as Nougat. It runs on an 8-core, 64-bit processor. Standard memory includes 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Bucking the trend, you can expand the S8’s memory with up to a 256 GB microSD card that neatly fits into the same tray as the SIM card. That helps the device keep its weather resistant rating. 

Where Apple has Siri and Google has its Assistant, Samsung sends in Bixby, which lets you talk to your device to get things done. Bixby lets you interact and give instructions to your phone. It all depends on Samsung servers for its information, so expect Bixby to learn as it grows. Of course, this being an Android phone, Google Assistant works just fine on the Galaxy as well. 


The S8 is the center of a growing universe of Samsung accessories that lean heavily toward virtual reality. The Gear VR unit for the S8 is little changed from last year’s, but it includes a new accessory of its own that changes the way everything works. Instead of just tapping on the buttons on the side of the Gear VR, a new Oculus designed remote is included. It’s like a little laser pointer in your virtual world. The remote is visible on screen and appears to project a thing beam that can be used to select items. A round control pad on the remote also helps you navigate environments. It is a small change, but it makes a big difference. 

Finally I want to touch on Samsung’s Level On Pro wireless headphones. They the company’s answer to the popular Beats headsets and come without the annoying bass heavy sound Beats are known for. The Level On Pro is easy to bond with the S8 by NFC or regular Bluetooth. The sound is excellent, for a Bluetooth device and Samsung says it can be even better using its proprietary audio format. While I noticed a difference, its not huge.

The best part about the Level On is its control scheme. You simply trace your finger up on the right ear cup to increase the volume, down to lower it. Trace your finger forward to skip ahead and back to go back. Tapping pauses and plays. It’s easy and doesn’t require you to grope around feeling for the right button. 


The Galaxy S8 includes features that will be standard on many high-end smart phones in the future, but Samsung has them now. It is a flagship that makes it easy to forget about previous problems with the Note 7, but how customers react to the company and its quality control remain to be seen.

As for 2017, it will be a good year for smart phones. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming next.

<![CDATA[CEO Spotlight Powered by Bizcast]]>Thu, 09 Jul 2015 04:23:13 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CEO-spotlight-opt-2.jpg]]><![CDATA[First Look at Victoria Beckham's New Collection for Target]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 17:19:50 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vb+target+thumb.jpgVictoria Beckham's clothing line for the masses arrives next month and fans of the designer are getting their first look at what to expect.

Photo Credit: Target]]>
<![CDATA[BCBG Sells More Than Just Clothes at Closing Illinois Stores]]>Mon, 06 Mar 2017 17:30:12 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/BCBG+Bos2.jpg

BCBG is selling more than just the last of its designer clothes at Chicago-area stores, the retailer is also putting a sale tag on its décor as well.

Everything from fixtures to furniture and equipment was made available at a discounted price in addition to clothing beginning Sunday.

"As part of our effort to realign BCBG, we made the difficult decision to reduce the total number of our retail stores," interim Acting Chief Executive Officer Marty Staff, said in a statement. "For our more than 300 continuing retail and partner shops, BCBG is focused on the future by investing in our partner relationships, driving sales in our remaining stores, exploring licensing and wholesale opportunities, and expanding our digital reach."

The stores closing in Illinois include:


  • 1650 Premium Outlets Blvd. Aurora IL 60502
  • 2140 North Halsted Chicago IL 60614
  • 1714 N. Damen Avenue Chicago IL 60647
  • 853 West Armitage Chicago IL 60614
  • 113 E. Oak Street Chicago IL 60611
  • 1136 Northbrook Court Northbrook IL 60062
  • 5220 Fashion Outlet Way Rosemont IL 60018
  • 4999 Old Orchard Center Skokie IL 60077


The news follows the retailer's announcement that it filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late last month.

<![CDATA[McDonald's Lays Out Plan to Reverse Drop in Visits]]>Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:05:09 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bigbigbig.jpg

McDonald's acknowledged that it lost 500 million customer transactions in the U.S. since 2012, and said it plans to use tempting value deals to help win people back.

The world's biggest burger chain said Wednesday during its investor day in Chicago that much of that business was lost after it did away with its Dollar Menu. It noted that an upside was that the majority of those customer visits were lost to other major fast-food chains, rather than to newer rivals.

"Those are the easiest customers to get back," said CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took over in March 2015 and has been working to revive the company's image.

McDonald's outlined its plans after having recorded its fourth straight year of declining guest counts at established U.S. locations in 2016, despite the fanfare over the rollout of an all-day breakfast menu. The company also trimmed its domestic store base for the second year in a row.

To get more customers in the door, McDonald's said it will also more aggressively market coffee and pastries and offer mobile order-and-pay by the end of the year. Easterbrook also noted the huge potential of delivery, and that 75 percent of the population in the company's top five markets — including the U.S. — living within three miles of a McDonald's.

Asked by an analyst why a person would order McDonald's once delivery is widely available in the restaurant industry, Easterbrook said the chain's expansive footprint gives it the advantage of being able to get food to people more quickly.

Richard Adams, a restaurant industry consultant and former McDonald's franchisee, noted that the restaurant industry has never been more competitive. While McDonald's may be able to spur more customer visits, he questioned whether the company will be able to get back to the level of total transactions it had four years ago.

"If you look at the eating out options, it's just so much more than 10 years ago," Adams said.

McDonald's is being pressured not just from other big fast-food players like Burger King and Taco Bell, but from newer rivals that largely emphasize freshness and taste, as well as the availability of food at convenience stores like 7-Eleven and supermarkets. So even if people are still going to McDonald's, they may be going less often than they used to. The NPD Group has said it expects overall customer traffic in the restaurant industry to remain "stalled" this year, as it was last year.

McDonald's, meanwhile, has touted the changes it is making to improve its core menu, such as cooking its Chicken McNuggets without artificial preservatives and testing fresh beef for some burgers. On Wednesday, the company noted that it wants to focus on serving "delicious, unpretentious food."

For the near future, the company plans to launch a limited-time offer in April for $1 sodas of any size. That may offer a quick fix for bringing customers into stores.

For 2019 and beyond, McDonald's said it expects to expand its operating margin from the high-20 percent range to the mid-40 percent range, as it sells more of its restaurants to franchisees and relies more heavily on royalty fees. By the end of this year, the company expects 93 percent of its restaurants to be franchised.

Other chains such as Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts are almost entirely franchised, while Starbucks and Chipotle own most their restaurants.

After having been halted before the company's announcements, shares in McDonald's gained $1.40, or about 1.1 percent, to $129.05.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amid Speculation, Macy's Says Walnut Room is 'Staying']]>Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:43:14 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-562490941.jpg

No, the Walnut Room at Chicago’s flagship Macy’s store isn’t going anywhere, a company spokesperson said Monday, but questions surrounding the future of the State Street location remain unanswered.

Despite speculation on what might happen to the iconic restaurant following Macy’s announcement that it plans to downsize its Chicago location, spokesperson Andrea Schwartz said the company has “no thoughts of closing our Walnut Room.”

“That’s part of our history and that’s staying,” Schwartz told NBC Chicago.

Questions on the future of the historic staple first sprouted last week, with reports speculating the restaurant could move amid the planned downsize.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Karen Hoguet, the retailer’s CFO, told analysts on an earning calls last week that plans to downsize its store presence are “one of our top priorities of 2017.”

Hoguet also said the downsizing of the Chicago location was “expected to be similar” to a 2015 deal in Seattle. In that deal, Crain's notes, Macy’s sold the top four floors of its downtown store to a private-equity firm that turned the space into offices.

The Walnut Room sits on the seventh floor of the State Street location, and has been a Chicago tradition since 1907, when it was at then-Marshall Field’s. It marked the first restaurant to ever open in a department store and is known for its extravagant holiday displays.

Though it’s clear the Walnut Room will not be closing, when asked if there was a possibility downsizing plans could result in changes for the restaurant, Schwartz wouldn’t say.

“Until we have news to announce, there’s nothing to announce,” she said.

What exactly the downsizing plan will include has not yet been released, but Schwartz noted the Walnut Room is “a very important piece of our business.”

“We know how many people treasure this,” she said.

Last month, Macy’s announced it was shutting down 65 stores in 2017 and eliminating an estimated 10,000 jobs as it battles slowing sales and growing online competition.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CVS to Close 11 Stores in Chicago: Report]]>Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:12:03 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-50803746.png

CVS Health is closing 11 locations in Chicago as part of the company’s previously announced cost-cutting initiative, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Rhode Island-based company announced in December that it planned to close approximately 70 retail stores in early 2017. The majority of closures were expected to be completed by March 31.

According to the Tribune, the CVS locations scheduled to close in Chicago include:

  • 5360 S. Western Ave. in Gage Park
  • 3411 W. Addison St. in Avondale
  • 4540 N. Pulaski Rd. in Mayfair
  • 2828 N. Clark St. in Lake View
  • 2825 W. Devon Ave. in West Rogers Park
  • 120 S. LaSalle St. in The Loop
  • 2053 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square
  • 6355 W. Belmont Ave. in Belmont Central
  • 2722 N. Central Ave. in Belmont Central
  • 3146 W. Madison St. in East Garfield Park
  • 3552 W. Grand Ave. in Humboldt Park 

The pharmacy operations of the closing stores will be transferred to other CVS locations in the area, a CVS spokesperson told the Tribune, so patients won't experience service disruptions.

The company is also working with affected employees to transfer them to other Chicago locations, the Tribune reports.

As of Dec. 2016, CVS operated 9,709 locations across the United States and in Brazil, including pharmacies inside Target stores.

According to the company’s website, Illinois has 277 CVS Pharmacy locations, as well as 57 MinuteClinics and 86 pharmacies within Target stores statewide.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kraft Heinz Withdraws $143B Bid to Buy Unilever]]>Sun, 19 Feb 2017 14:47:59 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-467499786.png

Kraft Heinz has decided to withdraw its $143 billion offer to buy mayonnaise, tea and seasonings maker Unilever.

The companies announced the decision Sunday in a joint press release.

Unilever, which has a head office in London, earlier had spurned the offer, saying the price was too low.

Despite rejection, ketchup, cheese and lunch meat maker Kraft Heinz said last week it was still interested in the deal.

Analysts say Kraft Heinz, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is still in the market for acquisitions.

The deal would have brought together Kraft Heinz brands such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta and Unilever's Hellman's, Lipton and Knorr. The combined company would have rivaled Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Still Hungry For Unilever After Rejected Offer ]]>Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:06:30 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/heinz+and+kraft+products.jpg

Kraft Heinz is attempting to buy Unilever in a $143 billion deal that would join the U.S. maker of cheeses and lunch meats with the European producer of mayo, teas and seasonings in a global powerhouse.

Unilever rejected the approach and called the price too low, while Kraft Heinz says it's still interested in a deal. The shares of both companies surged to new highs as investors saw prospects for cost cutting.

A combination of Kraft Heintz, which sells Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese, and Unilever, which owns brands including Hellmann's, Lipton and Knorr, would rival Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales.

That might not lead to big changes that customers would notice on the supermarket shelves. But it's people's changing tastes, shifting away from boxed and canned groceries in favor of items that seem fresher or healthier, that are driving deal-making in the food industry.

Companies like Kraft Heinz, itself formed from two century-old businesses in 2015, are trying to find new avenues for growth amid heightened competition.

Part of the challenge is the proliferation of smaller food makers marketing more wholesome products, which makes it harder for the established companies to drive up sales simply by selling more of their well-known products or by raising prices, as they have in the past.

"That obviously has its limits," said David Garfield, head of the consumer products unit at consulting firm AlixPartners.

Instead, companies are being forced to dig deeper to find cost efficiencies or tap into new markets, Garfield said. That can include mergers that result in consolidated manufacturing systems, or that give companies access to distribution networks in regions of the world where they don't have a big presence.

Those were some of the factors that drove Oreo and Chips Ahoy maker Mondelez International — which was split from Kraft in 2012 —to make an unsuccessful takeover bid for Hershey last year before retreating. And they were among the reasons cited by executives in the Kraft Heinz tie up, which was engineered by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, the Brazilian investment firm with a history of taking over companies and aggressively cutting costs.

Bernardo Hees, a 3G partner, has slashed jobs and pursued other savings, some of them granular, as CEO of Kraft Heinz. In a 2015 memo to employees, Hees reminded them to print on both sides of the paper, reuse office supplies like binders and turn off computers before leaving the office to cut down on energy costs.

The company also stopped stocking the corporate office with free Kraft snacks.

Unilever follows Nestle, PepsiCo and Mondelez as the world's biggest packaged food maker by retail sales, coming in ahead of Kraft Heinz, according to Euromonitor International. In addition to its food products, it sells health and beauty products such as Axe body spray and Dove soap.

In the meantime, food and drinks companies like Coca-Cola Co., General Mills Inc. and Kellogg Co. are also under pressure from Wall Street to slash costs and find products that suit the shifting customer preferences.

While mega-deals are tough to pull off, they've made an array of acquisitions of smaller, faster-growing brands. Campbell Soup is trying to shed its canned-food image, and has bought juice and bagged carrots maker Bolthouse. General Mills now owns Annie's, Hormel owns Applegate meats and Justin's nut butters, and Dr Pepper recently bought Bai Brands, a maker of drinks sold as rich in antioxidants.

Shares of Kraft Heinz closed up nearly 11 percent Friday. Unilever PLC jumped 14 percent.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Target to Open New Store on Chicago's North Side]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:46:58 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target+lakeview.jpg

Target has announced plans to build a new “flexible-format” store expected to open this fall in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

The new location, set to be built at 3300 N. Ashland Ave., will be the chain's eighth flexible-format store in the Chicago area. 

Slated to open in October, the store is expected to feature items for families, babies and kids, home décor for apartments and condos, and personal care products.

“We look forward to serving even more guests with the addition of Target’s Chicago Lakeview Ashland store that is projected to open this fall,” Mark Schindele, senior vice president of properties at Target, said in a statement. “We think the community will enjoy the convenience of a quick-trip shopping experience with product assortments that are unique to Target and catered to local guests’ needs."

The flexible-format store design allows Target stores to be built in smaller locations and adapt stores to meet customer’s needs, Target said in a release Tuesday. 

There are already four flexible-format store locations open in the city including Streeterville, Lincoln Park North, Hyde Park and Chicago State Street and two in suburban Skokie and Oak Park. A Rogers Park location is expected to open in fall 2018. 

Photo Credit: Target]]>
<![CDATA[Target Cuts Some of Its Innovation Projects: Report]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 13:21:44 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Target-GettyImages-536072219.jpg

Target is reportedly cutting some of its innovation programs amid lower-than-expected holiday sales. 

The Minneapolis-based retailer is dropping plans to launch its secret startup dubbed “goldfish” and postponed plans for a futuristic store featuring robots, the Star Tribune reports, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Target could not immediately confirm the news, but said in a statement it “recently made some changes to the innovation portfolio to refocus our efforts on supporting our core business and delivering against our strategic priorities.”

“Target remains absolutely committed to pursuing what’s next for our business,” the statement read. “We see a tremendous opportunity to drive innovation in areas that will fuel our growth both in the short and long-term in areas such as digital, technology, supply chain and merchandising.”

Last year, Target revealed it was looking to hire 20 team members to work out of the retailer’s tech office in Sunnyvale, California as part of a new franchise called goldfish. Little was released on what exactly the new venture would become, but according to job descriptions, the company planned to bring “innovative project ideas to market via technology.”

According to the company’s 2016 holiday season report, digital sales are up more than 30 percent, a shift in consumer purchasing that has left the company questioning.

“This year, our performance was mixed,” CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. “While we drove strong sales during those key shopping moments of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the days leading up to Christmas, overall sales for November and December did not meet our expectations. Our November and December traffic was flat, which shows some improvement over last quarter but a more significant shift from stores to digital than we expected.”

“Along with several retail industry peers, we felt the impact of consumers shifting to shopping online at a much more rapid pace,” he added.

But overall, Cornell said the season “simply was not up to our expectations.”

“Moving forward, we will continue to focus on the role our stores play in facilitating ease and convenience within the digital experience, as well as what our physical stores can offer guests in terms of breadth of assortment, newness, inspiration, service and value,” he said.

Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Breakfast Chain Yolk Adding New Locations in Chicago]]>Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:43:37 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Yolk_030314_24209.jpg

Popular Chicago breakfast eatery Yolk plans to add new locations in the city this year. 

The company posted on its website that a location in the city’s Wicker Park neighborhood, located at 1819 W. Division Street, is “coming soon.” 

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, owner Taki Kastanis said the restaurant’s seventh and eighth locations in Chicago will be in the leased space on Division Street in Wicker Park and in an apartment complex along the 606 Trail in Bucktown.

The move follows the chain’s announcement last year revealing plans to open 40 restaurants, including some across the country. The restaurant is also opening a location Feb. 15 in the Marina City complex. 

Crain’s reports the Wicker Park location is slated to open by this summer, including a space with an outdoor patio. The Bucktown location, which is not yet listed on the restaurant’s website, is expected to open later this year. 

But the Bucktown site will reportedly differ from Yolk’s previous locations, offering more “grab-and-go” items which customers can order at the counter. 

The chain first opened in the city’s South Loop neighborhood in 2006. Since then, it has opened restaurants in River North, Streeterville, the West Loop and Lakeview. It also has locations in Indianapolis and Dallas.

Photo Credit: ©www.strongholdphoto.com]]>
<![CDATA[Owner of Garrett Popcorn to Buy Macy's Frango Brand]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:52:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/189*120/fraaango.jpg

Macy’s Inc. has sold ownership of its premium chocolate brand, Frango, to Garrett Brands, the owner of Garrett Popcorn Shops.

According to the deal announced Monday, Chicago-based Garrett Brands “will develop, create, sell and distribute Frango products consistent with the brand’s legacy as a superior chocolate and confectionary brand.”

Macy’s Inc. will continue to sell Frango products in its Frango Café at the State Street store in Chicago along with more than 350 other locations in the U.S. and online, the company said.

“Frango is a perfect fit for our company’s portfolio, aligning well with our strategy to preserve and grow iconic brands that have historic franchise value with a unique and storied past,” Lance Chody, owner and CEO of Garrett Brands, said in a statement. “This is an exciting opportunity to expand the reach and offerings of the delicious Frango confections consumers know and love to more people in more places, just as we have done with our other brands.”

The move marks the return of local ownership for the Frango brand, which was made popular by Marshall Field’s after the company acquired Seattle-based Frederick & Nelson.

Macy’s notes that “given Garrett Brands’ history of thoughtfully growing brands, we are confident that this partnership will introduce new customers to premium Frango chocolates.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Eateries Declare Themselves 'Sanctuary Restaurants']]>Fri, 27 Jan 2017 10:16:35 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Bistro+Campagne+Interior.jpg

The national debate over immigration policy could be coming to a diner near you.

From down-home delis to upscale bistros, dozens of restaurants nationwide are seeking "sanctuary" status, a designation owners hope will help protect employees in an immigrant-heavy industry and tone down fiery rhetoric sparked by the presidential campaign. First inspired by churches, the label is something cities and other public entities have sought to offer local protections to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, whether it's barring police from asking citizens about immigration status or refusing to cooperate with federal agents. 

Roughly 80 restaurants are participating, in locations including Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston, Oakland, California, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The restaurants agree to anti-discrimination policies, put up signs on windows that pronounce their sanctuary status and receive know-your-rights training, such as webinars on how to ask federal immigration agents for proper paperwork if there's an attempted raid. Some will also offer a text line for customers or employees to report any incidents of harassment. 

At Detroit's Russell Street Deli, customers walking in the front door of the racially diverse restaurant see a sign that reads: "SANCTUARY RESTAURANT, a place at the table for everyone." 

"I have this one little place where I get to decide how people treat each other," said owner Ben Hall, who is biracial and was moved to sign up after a few customers' racially tinged comments. "If someone has the need to insult someone ... then they don't get to participate. I've told them, 'There's another diner next door.'" 

The movement is loosely defined and largely symbolic. Restaurants are private businesses subject to workplace law and regulations, and a sanctuary designation will do nothing to prevent federal agents from arresting any workers in the country illegally.

But organizers of the sanctuary restaurants movement say it's a response to the uncertainty surrounding how President Donald Trump will carry out campaign pledges to step up deportations and a build a wall along the Mexican border, among other things. Trump signed executive orders Wednesday aimed at jumpstarting construction of the wall and punishing cities that declare themselves sanctuaries for immigrants. Organizers of the movement say the restaurant industry is more vulnerable than others, given its heavy reliance on immigrant labor. 

Not all restaurant industry groups agree with the tactic.

The National Restaurant Association, which represents roughly 500,000 businesses, is instead pushing for an immigration overhaul, including an updated verification system that confirms employees' eligibility to work in the country legally. Association Senior Vice President Steve Danon said the organization "is looking forward to working with the Trump administration" on ways to make verification "easier and more cost-efficient." 

Roughly 12 million workers are in the restaurant industry and immigrants make up the majority, including up to 70 percent in big cities such as New York and Chicago. An estimated 1.3 million in the industry are immigrants living in the country without legal permission, according to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which launched the campaign and works to improve industry conditions. 

They pitched the program with an economic argument, saying restaurants need a "robust pool of workers." In a recent letter, they appealed to Trump as a businessman and urged him to "speak out to alleviate the fear of deportation and other harassment." 

"This is not about a restaurant harboring people in a closet. This is about creating a safe space," said Saru Jayaraman, a co-founder of ROC United. "Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers." 

In Chicago, the general manager at the rustic French restaurant Bistro Campagne said he applied to become a sanctuary restaurant because he wanted his employees to feel supported. Half the employees at his neighborhood bistro are immigrants, including from Romania, Ecuador and Mexico. 

"Restaurants are part of embracing other cultures," said Todd Feinberg. "We are all an immigrant culture. The idea that we might not accept that disturbs me a bit." 

At Brightwok Kitchen, an Asian inspired build-a-bowl restaurant in downtown Chicago, owner Jeremy Klaben said he sought sanctuary status because he wants employees and customers to feel included. The restaurant draws a busy lunchtime crowd of college students, corporate employees and tourists. 

Employee Iris Quijano, 22, said it's an extension of how she and colleagues feel. The Chicago native who has family in Mexico was drawn to the restaurant after she graduated from college. 

"In terms of all the negativity and the hatred we have in social media and in general ... it'll be good to be known as a sanctuary restaurant," she said. "All our co-workers stand for the same things. It's really important for others to feel the same vibes in the restaurant and have a good meal without having to worry about anything negative."

Other "sanctuary restaurants" in the Chicago area include Hopewell Brewing and Honey Butter Fried Chicken in the city and Sovereign in Plainfield, according to the movement's website

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Heinz Employees Get Day Off After Super Bowl]]>Fri, 27 Jan 2017 06:01:44 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Smunday+Kraft+Heinz.jpg

Kraft Heinz says the Monday after the Super Bowl will be a day off for its salaried employees, and it has launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the day — dubbed "Smunday" — a national holiday.

The food producing giant is co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, neither of which has a team in the Feb. 5 game. 

The company has started a Change.org petition and launched a website, www.smunday.org. If enough signatures are collected, Kraft Heinz says it will send the petition to Congress "in the hopes of making this dream a reality." 

"We can all agree that going to work the Monday after the 'Big Game' on Sunday is awful," the company said in the petition. "So as far as we’re concerned at Heinz, we as a nation should stop settling for it being the worst work day of the year."

The day off for employees stands whether or not the petition succeeds. The petition claims more than 16 million people call in sick or miss work the day after the game.

The company says the decision impacts "thousands of employees" but wasn't more specific.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Kraft Heinz Company]]>
<![CDATA[Olive Garden Debuts New Kind of 'Never Ending' Deal]]>Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:54:57 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Olive_Garden_chicago.jpg

Olive Garden is bringing back its “never ending” pasta deal, except this time, it’s upping the ante.

In a new promotion the restaurant chain calls the “next phase in never ending,” Olive Garden is now offering up its “Never Ending Classics.”

Last year, the company known for its free breadsticks said it sold 21,000 Never Ending Pasta Passes, a seven-week pass for endless pasta bowls. The new offer, which starts at $11.99, now includes lasagna, chicken parmigiana, chicken alfredo, fettucine alfredo and spaghetti with meat sauce.

Diners can also mix and match the featured dishes with each refill, according to the company.

"First we introduced unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. Then we debuted Never Ending Pasta Bowl. And now we're excited to give our fans the chance to revel in unlimited helpings of their favorite Olive Garden classics," Jose Duenas, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden, said in a statement. "We selected five of our most popular entrees so guests may indulge in as many of their favorites as they want, all at an incredible value."

The offer is available through March 6 and comes with soup or salad and breadsticks.

In previous years, Olive Garden’s pasta passes sold out in minutes, generating considerable publicity for the chain looking to modernize its image. Parent company Darden Restaurants Inc. was still working on turning around the chain's performance last year after its board was taken over by investor Starboard Value.

In November, the company reported its sales had increased by 2.1 percent in the second quarter, “outperforming the casual dining industry benchmarks, especially at Olive Garden,” according to CEO Gene Lee.

Photo Credit: Olive Garden]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Rolls Out 2 New Big Mac Sizes ]]>Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:43:16 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDs-GettyImages-96324959.jpg

Big Mac fans will now have even more to choose from at McDonald’s restaurants around the country beginning this week.

For a limited time in early 2017, the Big Mac roster will now include the Grand Mac and the Mac Jr. 

The twists on the popular menu item -- which features two patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame bun – offer an even larger and slightly smaller option for diners, McDonald's said. 

The Grand Mac is made with two beef patties, totaling one-third pound of beef, with two slices of cheese, special sauce, lettuce, onions and pickles on an even larger sesame bun, according to the world’s largest hamburger chain. 

The Mac Jr. is a single-layer Big Mac, featuring one larger beef patty without the middle bun. 

“The Big Mac is a legend and a great-tasting burger with hints of pickle relish, mustard, garlic and onions,” McDonald’s Chef Mike Haracz said in a statement. “We listened to our customers who told us they wanted different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Big Mac taste. The classic combination of ingredients remains timeless and customers around the world continue to enjoy its signature taste.”

The burgers were tested last year in central Ohio and Dallas/Fort Worth along with Florida and Pittsburgh.

Exactly how long the new items will remain on the menu wasn’t immediately clear.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shopping: The Holiday Hours You Need to Know]]>Mon, 26 Dec 2016 08:53:00 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Target_Store.jpgThe holiday season is in full swing, which means holiday shopping is also well underway. Here are the extended store hours you need to know.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maywood's Only Grocery Store to Close Permanently This Month]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 17:58:59 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ALDI+supermarket+sign.jpg

A Chicago suburb's only grocery store is slated to close on Christmas Eve, and city officials are pleading with the popular grocery store chain to keep it open.

Aldi announced plans to close its Maywood location, at 215 W. Madison St., citing numerous other locations in surrounding suburbs.

“We take the closing of any ALDI store very seriously,” Aldi said in a statement. “In this case, we made a decision to close this store because there are several ALDI locations in the Bellwood, Broadview and Melrose Park areas that will continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices. All of these stores are within a few miles of the Maywood location. We are pleased to share that all employees are able to transfer to surrounding ALDI stores.” 

But area officials, including Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and Congressman Danny Davis, are calling on Aldi to keep the location open, saying it is the only grocery store in the entire suburb. 

“The community depends on this location as its sole source of healthy, nutritious food,” a statement from the elected officials read. “Many Maywood citizens simply do not have the means to travel to other stores in nearby communities.” 

Boykin said he and his fellow politicians may offer tax incentives to Aldi to keep it from leaving. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Walmart Pulls 'Offensive' Mugs From Website]]>Wed, 14 Dec 2016 06:07:59 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walmart+sign+generic+2.jpg

Walmart has removed a mug from its website after numerous shoppers reported it as “appalling” and “offensive.”

The black and white coffee mug was posted to the retail giant’s site with the message “Got Retard?” on it.

After numerous complaints, and a Change.org petition asking the company to stop selling the mug, Walmart said it had the item from a third-party seller “removed from the site as soon as we were informed.” 

“This item violated our policy and we quickly removed it,” Walmart said in a statement on Twitter. “It’s unacceptable a seller put it on our Marketplace.” 

A similar version of the mug also appeared on Amazon.com, but has since been removed from the site as well. Amazon said in a statement Tuesday the item is "not listed for sale on Amazon."

The National Down Syndrome Society thanked the retailers for “discontinuing sales immediately.”

“Upon learning of the offensive language used in products sold by Walmart and Amazon, NDSS reached out to both retailers to discuss the offensive items being sold on their websites and asked that they immediately disconitnue the sale of those products, which they both have done,” the group said in a statement. “NDSS strongly condemns the use of the ‘r word.’ As the leading human rights organization for all people with Down syndrome, we maintain a zero tolerance policy for this type of mockery and offense.”

GiGi’s Playhouse Inc. in suburban Chicago, a group dedicated to increasing “positive awareness of Down syndrome,” also thanked the companies for removing the product.

“Walmart, we would like to thank you for taking down your product, the despicable, offensive mug with the R-word prominently displayed on it, but not before many people were hurt,” the group wrote on Facebook.

Still, the group has asked both Walmart and Amazon.com “What can we do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

Walmart describes its Marketplace program on its website as a way for "strategic business partners" to sell products alongside Walmart products.

"Our sellers are selected based on reputation, sales projections and alignment with Walmart's values," Walmart's website says.

A request for comment on how the mug made it onto the company's marketplace was not immediately answered.

Amazon also did not respond to a request for comment about how the mug was listed on the site. According to the company's website, registered sellers can list their products to the Amazon Marketplace catalog.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Starbucks Reserve Opening In Wrigley Office Building]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:20:19 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Starbucks-Storefront.jpg

A new upscale Starbucks Reserve is set to open on Chicago's North Side next year.

The new Starbucks store will open in the Wrigley Field office building complex with a so-called Starbucks Reserve experience bar, according to a company spokesperson.

“These stores are designed to have coffee craft be the center of conversation, where the coffee bars are interactive and customers can lean in and talk to our partners (employees) about how coffee is brewed on a siphon or made on a Black Eagle (manual espresso machine),” David Daniels, managing director for Starbucks Design, said in a statement. “The theater of coffee is the first thing you see when you walk in the door and it says, ‘Come here, sit down, learn more.'"

Starbucks has also teamed up with an Italian food partner, Princi, to introduce food into their new boutique bakery and cafe locations.

A stand alone Princi store is set to open in Chicago's West Loop in late 2017.

<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Stores Set to See New Shipments of Hatchimals]]>Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:07:03 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/625154754-Hatchimals.jpg

One of the hottest toys of this holiday season is about to return to store shelves in the Chicago area just in time for the holidays. 

New shipments of Hatchimals will be hitting store shelves at several big box stores across Chicago and some suburbs.

Shoppers searching for coveted wishlist item, a cuddly creature inside an egg that hatches, have reported difficulties getting their hands on the highly-desired children’s toy.

Walmart said new shipments will begin hitting store shelves at some point between Thursday and Dec. 19 for $48.88 at the following locations:

  • Walmart store #1933, 137 W North Ave, Northlake
  • Walmart store #1938, 7050 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park
  • Walmart store #1401, 2552 W 75th St, Naperville
  • Walmart store #1892, 9450 Joliet Rd, Hodgkins
  • Walmart store #1556, 9265 159th St, Orland Hills
  • Walmart store #1228, 2680 N Illinois 83, Round Lake Beach
  • Walmart store #1413, 1205 S Illinois Rte 31, Crystal Lake
  • Walmart store #1377, 3801 Running Brook Farm Blvd, Johnsburg
  • Walmart store #1211, 21101 McGuire Rd, Harvard
  • Walmart store #3004, 3320 S Cicero Ave, Cicero

Walmart said it is scheduled to receive dozens per store. The local shipments are part of a larger national shipment set to bring tens of thousands of the toy to stores across the country.

Hatchimals were ranked as one of Walmart’s Chosen by Kids top 25 list earlier this season.

Target announced Tuesday that it expects more Hatchimals will hit store shelves beginning Sunday. That’s when Target stores across the country will begin receiving dozens of the hot toy, priced at $59.99, with inventory popping up throughout the week, the company said.

“You’ll need to be quick to scoop these up (limit two per guest) while supplies last, so be sure to check your local store,” the company said on its website.

A Toys R Us store in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, located at 3300 N. Western Ave., reported a shipment of over a dozen Thursday morning.

“For Chicago area customers looking for Hatchimals they should just check in with local stores in the area regularly,” said the company’s Midwest spokesperson Jessica Offerjost. “Stores are getting shipments over the next several weeks.”

Hatchimals typically cost between $60 and $70—but on eBay they’re going for much more.

A message posted on the Hatchimals website says more of the cutesy toys are on the way.

“While additional product will hit retail shelves in December, we anticipate this inventory will also sell out quickly,” the company said on its website. “We have increased production and a whole new batch of Hatchimals will be ready to hatch in early 2017. “

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Suburban Krispy Kreme Gets Opening Date]]>Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:01:17 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Krispy_Kreme-453817261+%281%29.jpg

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is making its return to Chicago.

The doughnut chain announced its newest storefront at 17815 S. Halsted Street in Homewood, is slated to open Jan. 10, 2017.

The doughnut shop will be celebrating its grand opening by giving the first 100 customers in line free doughnuts. The first dozen customers will receive a free dozen Original Glazed doughnuts every week for a year, while customers 13 through 100 will receive a free dozen Original Glazed doughnuts every month for a year.

Customers can begin lining up for their shot at a free dozen on Jan. 9, when the store will set up a heated tent and give customers a line placement number. Customers must wait in line until doors open on Jan. 10 at 6 a.m.

“We are excited to join the Homewood community with our first Krispy Kreme Chicagoland location,” said Carlos Larcada, President of Chicagoland Restaurants, LLC. “We’re ready to turn on our Hot Light and serve up hot, fresh Krispy Kreme favorites.”

The store's opening will also mark the Midwest premiere of Krispy Kreme's new premium coffee, along with a 24-hour drive-thru.

“I am beyond delighted that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will soon open here in Homewood,” said Rich Hofeld, Homewood Village President. “Their location in our Halsted Street commercial district is a great addition to the community and I look forward to stopping by whenever I am in need of something sweet.”

The Homewood Krispy Kreme will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portillo's Launches Yearlong Subscription Service]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 13:03:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/portillos5.png

For the first time ever, Portillo's will offer nationwide delivery of its famous chocolate cake.

The local Chicago restaurant announced Tuesday that customers will now be able to ship two pre-baked chocolate cake layers and a do-it-yourself icing kit, complete with frosting and a spatula, straight to their homes.

“For the upcoming holiday season, we wanted to give Portillo’s fans a new way to enjoy their favorite menu items,” Portillo’s CEO Keith Kinsey said in a statement. “The additions to our Shop & Ship service make it easier than ever for our customers to relish Portillo’s year-round, regardless if they live near one of our locations.”

A new subscription service, Portillo's 365, was also unveiled Tuesday. The subscription includes a rotating selection of Portillo's most popular menu items, delivered every other month, anywhere in the country.

Customers can purchase the subscription for $365 on the restaurant's website. It includes:

• January: One deluxe package of Italian Beef Sandwiches slow-roasted, thinly sliced beef cooked with Italian spices and served on French bread (makes 8 sandwiches per package)

• March: One 10-pack of Chicago-Style Hot Dogs, topped with customary mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers, tomato, pickle, and celery salt

• May: Two slabs of Portillo’s award-winning Ribs, tender baby back slabs marinated in Portillo’s housemade sauce

• July: One deluxe package of Italian Beef Sandwiches slow-roasted, thinly sliced beef cooked with Italian spices and served on French bread (makes 8 sandwiches per package)

• September: One 10-pack of Chicago-Style Hot Dogs, topped with customary mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers, tomato, pickle, and celery salt

• November: One famous Chocolate Cake, with do-it-yourself frosting

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Target Announces Plans to Open New Store in Chicago Area]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:50:38 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target-store-sign.jpg

Target has announced plans to open a new store in the Chicago area next year.

The Minnesota-based company revealed it will open a new, flexible-format store in Oak Park as part of Elevate Oak Park, a new mixed-use project.

The new store will be located at the corner of Lake and Maple streets and is projected to open in October 2017.

“We are very excited to welcome Target to the heart of our downtown,” said Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu Taleb. “A retailer of Target’s reputation is an economic game changer not only for Oak Park, but also for our neighboring communities.”

The flexible-format stores are often placed in smaller locations with items tailored for local guests.

The Oak Park location will be about 22,000 square feet and will feature a grocery section, cosmetic products, men’s and women’s apparel, toys, sporting goods, home décor, and electronic and tech items. It will also include order pickup and Target mobile, the company said.

“Target is focused on adding flexible-format stores in the Chicago area to make it easier for more guests to shop at Target,” said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, Properties, Target. “We look forward to providing the Oak Park community with a quick-trip shopping experience with product assortments that are unique to Target.”

There are currently four flexible-format stores in the Chicago area and the company plans to add three more locations in the city in 2017.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Drake Hotel's Iconic Cape Cod Room to Close]]>Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:39:51 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/the+drake+sign.JPG

One of Chicago’s oldest restaurants is closing after more than 80 years.

The Cape Cod Room inside the iconic Drake Hotel, known as the restaurant where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio carved their initials after getting married in 1954, announced it will close on Jan. 1, 2017.

The closing comes as the Drake prepares for what it says will be a “historic renovation,” according to the hotel’s website.

Well-known seafood dishes from the restaurant, including Bookbinder soup, oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes, Cape Cod seafood boil and baked Alaska, will become featured menu items at the hotel’s Coq d’Or Restaurant and Lounge instead.

The restaurant has been a staple in the city for the last 83 years. It will offer its last dinner service on New Year’s Eve.

<![CDATA[Gibson's Made Most Money Among Independent Chicago Eateries]]>Mon, 14 Nov 2016 17:43:50 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/BLT+Prime_Steak.jpg

Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse has again grossed more money than any independent restaurant in Chicago, according to Restaurant Business Online's annual ranking of top-grossing independent restaurants.

The Gold Coast steakhouse raked in $25.6 million last year, ranking No. 8 in the country overall with only five U.S. locations. Gibson's rose two spots from last year's 10th place award, climbing back to the same slot the steakhouse occupied in 2014.

Rankings are calculated using 2015 restaurant sales data taken from surveys. Gibson's is one of 10 Chicago restaurants that made the Restaurant Business Online's list in 2016.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab placed No. 14 nationally and second among Chicago restaurants with $22.3 million. Seven Chicago restaurants and three suburban restaurants made the list of 100. Check out the full list of all Chicago restaurants that made the list this year below.

1. Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse (No. 8)

2. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (No. 14)

3. David Burkes Primehouse (No. 23)

4. Shaw's Crab House (No. 34)

5. Chicago Cut Steakhouse (No. 36)

6. Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse, Rosemont location (No. 43)

7. Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse (No. 63)

8. Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse, Oak Brook location (No. 68)

9. Hugo's Frog Bar (No. 69)

10. Quartino (No. 87)

<![CDATA[Target Announces Collaboration With Victoria Beckham]]>Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:38:43 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/victoria+beck22ham.jpg

Victoria Beckham is launching a clothing line for the masses.

The former Spice Girl has taken a step back from the expensive, upscale brand that her clothing line has become famous for and is now focusing on creating wardrobe pieces that are accessible for lower-income consumers.

"For a while now, I have been thinking how great it would be to work on clothes for a customer that either doesn’t want to pay or can’t pay designer prices," Beckham said in statement. "I loved the idea of opening the brand up to a wider audience and being able to share my vision with a broader customer base."

Victoria Beckham for Target includes more than 200 items for women and children, marking the designer's first excursion into designing childrensware.

"Designing for children is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I was incredibly excited to be able to incorporate childrenswear into this collection," Beckham said in a statement.

Beckham joins other high-end designers who have collaborated with Target, including Jason Wu, Lilly Pulitzer and Zac Posen.

Pieces in the collection range in price from $6-$70, with most items under $40, and will be offered in sizes XS-3X for women and NB-XL for girls, toddlers and babies, according to the company. 

The Victoria Beckham for Target collection will be available April 9 through April 30, 2017, or while supplies last.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FedEx Hiring 1,000 in Chicago Ahead of Holiday Season]]>Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:10:54 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fedex-Truck2.jpg

FedEx is adding more than 1,000 seasonal positions ahead of the holiday season.

The positions are part of a plan to hire more than 50,000 nationally leading up to the “peak season,” with a majority of the positions in the FedEx Ground network, the company said.

The positions include package handlers, drivers and other support positions, according to FedEx.

FedEx isn’t the only company hiring thousands of workers ahead of the holiday season.

Most recently, Target announced it was hiring more than 70,000 for the upcoming months.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Prime Now Adds First Beauty Store for Chicago Users]]>Thu, 15 Sep 2016 10:20:56 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/227*120/amazon1.png

Chicago Amazon Prime users have already been able to get groceries, food and gifts delivered to their homes in a matter of hours, but now they can add beauty products to that list.

Amazon announced its Prime Now service has added its first-ever beauty brand to the one-hour delivery service. The partnership is with Chicago-based Merz Apothecary, which sells beauty and natural health products.

"We have thrived in business for 141 years by focusing on our customer needs, and we believe Prime Now is a natural extension of this customer-centric approach,” Anthony Qaiyum, owner of Merz Apothecary, said in a statement. “As the owner of an independent, family-run business, I am especially excited for us to be able to combine our unique products and our expertise in our field with Amazon's unrivaled delivery operations. I think it is a recipe for customer satisfaction and business growth."

The Prime Now service offers one-hour delivery for $7.99 or free two-hour delivery and is available from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week in Chicago.

“Merz Apothecary is a family-owned, iconic destination in the Windy City and we think customers will love the convenience of superfast delivery of thousands of beauty items,” Simoina Vasen, director of Prime Now, said in a statement. “We are excited to launch this new product offering in Chicago with such a beloved local brand.”

The company first launched the quick delivery service for Prime members in Chicago last year. The service is also currently available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Manhattan and Miami.

Photo Credit: Amazon]]>
<![CDATA[Walgreens Prepares to Unload More Than 500 Stores]]>Fri, 09 Sep 2016 03:46:23 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens1.png

Walgreens believes that it will probably have to unload more stores than expected to ease antitrust concerns over its pending, $9.41 billion acquisition of Rite Aid, a deal that would make the nation's largest drugstore chain even larger.

While it still expects to complete the acquisition this year, the Deerfield, Illinois, company said Thursday that it will probably have to divest more than 500 stores. The company previously said that it expected to divest 500 or fewer.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. says it remains "actively engaged" with the Federal Trade Commission as it reviews the deal.

Federal regulators appear increasingly hesitant to approve major acquisitions after a record-setting pace last year in megadeals. They've already sued to block two multi-billion dollar health insurance tie-ups this year, the proposed combinations of Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. runs 8,173 U.S. stores, a total that could top 12,000 with the acquisition of Rite Aid Corp., based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The deal, announced last October, could include divestiture of up to 1,000 stores if needed, but Walgreens has said and still expects to unload fewer than that.

The combination of the nation's largest and third-largest drugstore chains would give Walgreens beefed-up negotiating muscle with drugmakers and other suppliers and enlarge its presence in the Northeast and in Southern California.

It would also put Walgreens in head-to-head competition with rival CVS in a number of markets. CVS Health Corp. runs more than 9,600 retail pharmacies, and with thousands of independent drugstores.

Shares of Rite Aid jumped about 6 percent, or 46 cents, to $8.21 in early trading. Walgreens rose $1.22 to $84.10.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Greektown Restaurant Permanently Closes]]>Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:20:37 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/greek+town.png

After nearly 50 years as a staple in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood, the Parthenon has announced that it is permanently closing.

Signs posted on the doors of the restaurant, located at 314 S. Halsted St., this week announced the news to customers.

“We want to thank you for your support over the years and for the wonderful memories,” the signs read.

The Parthenon, known to many as the originators of the tableside practice of lighting cheese on fire, shuttered Monday, according to Eater Chicago.

The restaurant could not immediately be reached for comment to reveal why it suddenly shut down.

The eatery was temporarily closed in April after failing two health inspections for violations that included live roaches in the kitchen and rodent droppings in the basement. At the time, co-owner Joanna Liakouras said the restaurant had been closed for a “couple of weeks” while they remodeled the kitchen.

On its website, which appears to have been taken down following the closure, the restaurant bills itself as “the city’s oldest full-service, classic Greek restaurant.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5
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<![CDATA[Report Reveals Highest-Paying Jobs in Chicago]]>Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:54:45 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/Money_generic.jpg

A new report has found the highest paying professions in Chicago and it appears the medical field dominates the list.

According to the top 100 list from career website Zippia, the highest-paying profession in the city is surgeons, with an average pay of $252,780.

The report analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 850 job classifications in Chicago.

Of the top 10, eight were related to the medical field.

They included obstetricians and gynecologists, physicians and surgeons (all other), anesthesiologists, podiatrists, internists, family and general practitioners and dentists.

Outside of the medical field, chief executives, financial managers, architectural and engineering managers, lawyers, computer and information systems managers, marketing managers and advertising and promotions managers were among some of the top.

The top 20 highest paid professions were:

1. Surgeons — $252,780

2. Obstetricians and Gynecologists — $194,950

3. Chief Executives — $178,780

4. Physicians and Surgeons, All Other — $172,180

5. Anesthesiologists — $171,290

6. Podiatrists — $162,980

7. Internists, General — $155,820

8. Family and General Practitioners — $145,130

9. Financial Managers — $130,930

10. Dentists, General — $130,360

11. Pediatricians, General — $128,340

12. Architectural and Engineering Managers — $127,990

13. Lawyers — $126,400

14. Orthodontists — $125,500

15. Computer and Information Systems Managers — $125,440

16. Psychiatrists — $124,960

17. Sales Managers — $124,570

18. Marketing Managers — $123,380

19. Advertising and Promotions Managers — $120,780

20. Nurse Anesthetists — $120,700

<![CDATA[Amazon Plans to Open Chicago Bookstore: Report]]>Thu, 25 Aug 2016 22:23:50 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/amazon+bookstore+GettyImages-495711658.jpg

E-commerce giant Amazon is planning to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune

The store will be located at 3443 N. Southport Ave in the city's Lake View neighborhood, the former location of the now-shuttered Mystic Celt bar and restaurant, the Tribune reports. 

"We are excited to be bringing Amazon Books to Southport in Chicago," a spokesperson told the Tribune Thursday.

The store is scheduled to open next year, according to the Tribune.

Amazon's first bookstore opened in Seattle last fall. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle Offering Free Food for Lolla-Goers Wednesday]]>Tue, 02 Aug 2016 11:19:26 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Chipotle-GettyImages-509063322.jpg

Lollapalooza may have ended over the weekend, but it appears the fun isn’t over for those still cherishing their coveted wristbands.

Chipotle is offering a big deal for Lolla-goers with a “Guac n’ Roll” Wristband Wednesday

The event offers one free regular-priced entrée item with the purchase of another entrée item for customers who show their Lollapalooza wristband at participating locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

More than 400,000 music fans made their way to Chicago’s Grant Park for the five-day festival last week. The event celebrated the fest’s 25th anniversary.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Summer Camp Teaches Kids Computer Coding]]>Mon, 01 Aug 2016 18:10:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000018955720_1200x675_736272451558.jpgSummer camps are in full swing in Chicago, including one unlike many others. Charlie Wojciechowski reports.]]><![CDATA[‘Cake Boss’ Star Scouts Chicago Bakery Locations]]>Fri, 15 Jul 2016 17:50:56 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carlos+bake+shop.jpg

"Cake Boss" star Buddy Valastro continues to mesmerize fans with his masterpiece creations at bakeries around the country, but soon, those desserts could be made at a Chicago bakery.

A Carlo’s Bakery spokesperson said Friday that the team is scouting potential Chicago locations.

“[Valastro] goes to Chicago multiple times a year and I think Buddy can't travel anywhere without thinking of opening a bakery,” Nicole Valdes, Carlo’s spokesperson, said.

Valdes said Valastro has been thinking about opening a bakery in Chicago for quite some time.

If and when the bakery will open is not confirmed.

The Cake Boss is in Chicago for the TLC Summer Block Party at Soldier Field Saturday, where the network's fan-favorites will bring summer fun to the Windy City.

Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Expands All-Day Breakfast Menu]]>Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:33:06 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds1.png

You can have McGriddles with that. McDonald's plans to offer the sandwiches around the clock after testing the addition of the sandwich to its all-day breakfast menu in select markets.

When McDonald's launched a limited all-day breakfast menu in the fall, stores offered sandwiches made with either English muffins or biscuits depending on local preferences. The idea was to keep operations simple.

Now, the company says U.S. stores will offer both, and McGriddles, which are made with syrupy pancake buns. McDonald's says adding McGriddles was a top request from customers.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company says the national rollout will start in late August and spread to other markets throughout September.

McDonald's Corp. has been trying to revive slumping sales after conceding it failed to keep up with changing tastes.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Former Printing Plant Now Set to Host 'The Cloud']]>Tue, 21 Jun 2016 18:58:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000018360899_1200x675_710028355944.jpgEver wonder where your personal data information is stored? NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski takes a peek inside "The Cloud," which also happened to have a historic connection to a Chicago newspaper. ]]><![CDATA[Protesters Block Traffic, March Outside Chicago Walmart to Demand Higher Wages]]>Wed, 08 Jun 2016 17:50:30 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/west+loop+walmart.pngRowdy protesters demonstrated outside a West Loop Walmart accusing the big box store of not paying their employees a living wage. Charlie Wojciechowski reports.]]><![CDATA[DQ to Open Up to 35 New Chicago-Area Restaurants: Report]]>Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:24:28 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Dairy+Queen.jpg

Dairy Queen reportedly plans to open up to 35 more restaurants in the Chicago area in the next five years.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, which cites Dairy Queen’s Vice President of U.S. Franchise Development Jim Kerr, the ice cream and burger chain hopes to begin opening the restaurants in the first half of 2017, targeting locations in the city and suburban Lake and Cook counties.

The chain, which was founded in Joliet and is now headquartered in Minnesota, already has a reported 145 locations in the metro area and more than 260 in Illinois. 

The locations of the new stores have not yet been identified, but Kerr told Crain’s “our interest in Cook and Lake is because of the density, and much of the area is just not served by our current footprint.” 

The report said Dairy Queen is looking in suburbs like Oak Park, Evanston and Rosemont as well as several neighborhoods in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Move from Oak Brook to Chicago: Report]]>Wed, 01 Jun 2016 22:20:52 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+oak+brook+GettyImages-53038624.jpg

The world's largest fast-food chain may be moving out of its long-time west suburban headquarters and into the city, according to a report from Crain's Chicago Business

McDonald's is reportedly in negotiations to move its headquarters from suburban Oak Brook to the former Harpo Studios campus on the city's Near West Side, according to Crain's. 

The restaurant giant is in discussions with Chicago-based real estate developer Sterling Bay, who bought the four-building facility in 2014 for $30.5 million. 

A spokesperson for McDonald's did not confirm the report Wednesday, saying "When we have information to share it will be with our employees first."

For some West Loop residents, the potential move comes as no surprise, saying the area has changed quite a bit in the last few years. 

"There's already a lot of corporations," one resident said. "Google is here, I mean, they're definitely developing the area."

But for the Oak Brook Village President, the news was a total shock. He told NBC 5 he hasn't heard any official confirmation about the move, but he is "disappointed he was not notified and disappointed that they are leaving," adding that "McDonald's and the Village have had a strong partnership for decades. They have been a leading part of our commercial segment"

According to Crain's, McDonald's plans to move its approximately 2,000 employees in Oak Brook into a 300,000 square foot office space built on the site of Oprah Winfrey's former production house. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon to Open 2nd Center in Joliet Bringing 2,000 Jobs]]>Thu, 26 May 2016 09:50:37 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-151368933.jpg

Amazon.com Inc. says it plans to open a second facility in Joliet and more than 2,000 full-time jobs.

The online retail company made the announcement Wednesday, saying the new jobs would be in addition to the 1,500 full-time employees who already work at its existing Joliet facility. The jobs include health care, retirement, parental leave and other benefits.

Amazon says the workers will pack and ship smaller items to customers.

Amazon's vice president of North American operations, Akash Chauhan, said the company has "found an abundance of talent in Joliet."

Amazon recently announced it would work with Joliet Junior College to help workers who are interested in enrolling in courses as part of the Career Choice Program. It also made a donation to the school's veterans' scholarship program.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago's 3-D Candy Printer Makes Byron Miranda-Shaped Candy]]>Tue, 24 May 2016 17:49:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/byron+candy+maker.pngByron visited the first 3-D candy printer at Dylan's Candy Bar Chicago and it made quite an impression of him. ]]><![CDATA[National Restaurant Association Brings Future of Dining to Chicago]]>Mon, 23 May 2016 17:33:18 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000017922505_1200x675_691307075652.jpgThe National Restaurant Association is in full swing at McCormick Place. NBC 5's LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]><![CDATA[McDonald's Testing Fresh Beef at 14 Restaurants ]]>Thu, 12 May 2016 13:27:05 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/mcdonalds+burger.jpg

McDonald's says it's testing fresh beef at 14 restaurants in Dallas, but says it's too early to say whether fresh beef could replace its frozen patties nationally.

The Oak Brook, Illinois company says the test is limited to its quarter pounder patties.

"Like all of our tests, this one too is designed to see what works and what doesn't within our restaurants," said Lisa McComb, a McDonald's spokeswoman, in a statement.

The test comes as McDonald's Corp. fights to turn around its business, which had suffered slumping sales until recently. The company has said it's looking at improving its core menu items.

McDonald's has more than 14,000 locations in the U.S., making by far the biggest burger chain.

The test was first reported in Nation's Restaurant News.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ikea Announces Plans for First Wisconsin Location]]>Thu, 05 May 2016 12:21:18 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-536073699.jpg

Ikea has announced plans to open its first store in Wisconsin, expanding the retailer’s presence in the Midwest.

The company submitted plans Thursday for a location in Oak Creek, about 12 miles south of Milwaukee.

The 295,000-square-foot store would be built on 29 acres at the northwestern corner of Interstate 94 and Drexel Avenue, the company said. It plans to open the new location by summer 2018.

“We are excited at the possibility of growing our Midwestern U.S. presence with a Milwaukee-area store,” Ikea U.S. president Lars Petersson said in a statement. “A location in the retail corridor would provide our already 206,000 Milwaukee-area customers their own store.”

The store will include nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, 50 room settings, three model home interiors, a restaurant and a play area for children.

The Wisconsin location joins stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg in Illinois and in the Twin Cities-area in Minnesota.

Earlier this year, Ikea increased its average minimum hourly wage to $11.87, which is $4.62 above the current federal wage and marks a $1.11 increase, or 10 percent, from last year’s average minimum pay. The increase affected 32 percent of Ikea's 10,500 U.S. store workers and raised the average hourly wage to $15.45.

Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Target Holds Job Fair for New Chicago Location]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:23:38 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LPN+2650+north+clark+vw-2.jpg

Ahead of the opening a new store in Lincoln Park, Target is hosting a job fair with a plan to hire more than 80 team members.

Target will be holding interviews from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the company's Division Store, located at 1200 N. Larrabee, in Chicago Thursday and Friday and again May 5-7. 

The new store is scheduled to open in July in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood at the intersection of Clark and Diversey. The new store plans to cater to students and local residents offering a pharmacy, Target Mobile and Order Pickup.

Target encourages interested applicants to apply in advance at Target.com/careers.

<![CDATA[Sears to Close 68 Kmart, 10 Sears Stores This Summer]]>Thu, 21 Apr 2016 16:33:20 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TLMD-tienda-sears-generica-shutterstock_225276199.jpg

Sears Holdings Corp. is announcing Thursday that it will close 68 Kmart stores and 10 Sears stores as it struggles to restore profitability.

The ailing company had said in February that it would accelerate the closing of unprofitable stores. The move is expected to generate a "meaningful level" of cash from the liquidation of store inventories and from the sale or sublease of some of the related real estate, it said.

The closings follow a comprehensive review of the company's store portfolio that took into account store performance and the timing of lease expirations.

The Sears stores will close in late July; two Kmart stores will close in mid-September.

Sears has long been struggling with a sales slump, unable to keep up with rivals like Wal-Mart.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Chef Debuts Line of Marijuana Edibles on 4/20]]>Wed, 20 Apr 2016 10:18:34 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mindy+segal+getty.jpg

Chicago chef Mindy Segal debuted her line of marijuana edibles Wednesday, also known as 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday.

Segal, of Mindy's Hot Chocolate, announced her new line of infused products attached to her personal brand of sweets in December. They include chocolate brittle bars, granola bites, a warm chocolate drink and ready-made mix with do-it-yourself instructions, according to a release.

To produce the new sweets, Segal partnered with Cresco Labs, Illinois' largest cannabis cultivator. 

"We've all heard the expression 'it tastes like medicine,' but there's no reason it has to," said Segal, who is a winner of a James Beard Award for outstanding pastry chefs. "With my recipes and Cresco's technology, we're developing this line of products to be consistent every time and absolutely enjoyable to eat." 

Charles Bachtell, the founder of Cresco Labs, said Segal's partnership "says a lot about where this industry is headed." 

Segal's edible products will be available at licensed dispensaries across Illinois for approved patients suffering from one of the nearly 40 medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

Medical marijuana sales began in Illinois last month with eight licensed dispensaries opening in Marion, Mundelein, Canton, Quincy, Addison, North Aurora, Schaumburg and Ottawa. One is also set to open in Chicago at 5001 N. Clark St. in the Andersonville neighborhood.

Illinois is among 23 states with medical marijuana programs. State officials expect 25 dispensaries will be open to the public by the end of the year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Jack Daniel's]]>
<![CDATA['Fight for 15' Movement Takes to Chicago Streets]]>Thu, 14 Apr 2016 22:09:15 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fight+for+fifteen+wojo+pic.jpg

The national Fight for 15 movement has set its sights on Chicago as activists and workers continue to push for raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

From the South Side to the North Side, fast food workers joined with members of the Service Employees International Union and the Chicago Teachers Union in a march across the city Thursday. 

The group arrived on foot and by bus where they marched from the McDonald’s at Clark and Devon streets in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood to the Loyola University Campus for a rally. 

The group claims the current minimum wage is too hard to live on without public assistance.

Still, the Illinois Policy Institute opposes raising the mandated $15 minimum wage, saying it would lead to more unemployment as businesses would replace workers with automated food-dispensing kiosks.

“We proudly invest in the future of those who work in McDonald's restaurants," Lisa McComb, a spokesperson for McDonald's, said in a statement. "In addition to raising the minimum wage for employees at our company-owned restaurants, we also offer employees access to Archways to Opportunity, a set of programs McDonald’s pays for which helps them earn a high school diploma and get needed tuition assistance so they can work toward earning a college degree."

The Chicago protests are part of many being held across the country in states including, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.

Currently, California and New York are on their way to raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour, but the idea faces headwinds in more conservative and rural states in the South and the Midwest.

Activists believe the movement is picking up steam.

"In the beginning, it looked impossible," said Alvin Major, a fast-food worker and leader of the Fight for $15 campaign. But now, "what happened in New York, in California, it's going to spread around the country."

Demonstrations at the Rock n' Roll McDonald's in the Loop Thursday night began at around 4:30 p.m. 

Five people were taken into custody by the Chicago Police Department in connection with hanging a large banner from a hotel near the protest. Police went into the hotel and removed the banner before taking the protesters into custody. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski]]>
<![CDATA[Navy Pier Summer Job Fair Sells Out]]>Thu, 07 Apr 2016 17:07:31 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/navy+pier+disturbance.jpg

Turns out the idea of working along Chicago’s lakefront at an iconic landmark turning 100 this summer sounds like a dream job to a lot of people.

Navy Pier's Thursday first-ever job fair has sold out.

Ahead of its historic centennial celebration this summer, Navy Pier is hosting a job fair from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Crystal Gardens.  Nearly 30 pier businesses are seeking to hire more than 900 seasonal workers. Job opportunties are available for Navy Pier and its partners along the pier, including bars, boats, restaurants and, yes, the new Ferris wheel.

Most opportunities are for seasonal work through the summer of 2016.

Attendees were required to pre-register for this event, which is now full. Navy Pier set a registration capacity limit of 2,500 applicants and that number was reached mid-week last week. Those who were interested in the event but were not able to register in advance can check out the Navy Pier employment site to view available job postings. 

Navy Pier reminded job seekers to bring multiple copies of their resumes and wear professional attire.

Here’s the full list of participating partners:

Navy Pier
Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze
American’s Dog
Auntie Anne’s
Ben & Jerry’s
Big Bowl Chinese Express
Big Bus Chicago
Big City Chicken
Bike and Roll Chicago
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Build A Bear Workshop
Chango Loco
Chicago Children’s Museum
Color Inc.
Completely Nuts
DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar
Entertainment Cruises
Faces In Focus
Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice
Garrett’s Popcorn
Harry Caray’s
Jimmy Buffet’s Magaritaville
Life in the Windy City & Varsity Stop Outfitters
Navy Pier IMAX Theatre
Oh Yes Chicago!
Photogenic, Inc
Riva Crab House
Shoreline Sightseeing

<![CDATA[No Joke: Krispy Kreme Offering Free Doughnuts April 1]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 08:55:27 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/krispykremedonuts.jpg

It might be April Fool's Day, but Krispy Kreme says this is no joke — the company is giving away free doughnuts to customers on April 1 at many locations. 

"This offer is real," said Sarah Roof, corporate communications coordinator for Krispy Kreme.

Customers will receive "one free Original Glazed doughnut at participating U.S. shops."

The chain said the promotion is thanks to "this year's doughnut harvest."

"This year, on account of the unusually fair winter, the Doughnut Harvest was especially bountiful," the chain said in a release. "Now, for the first time, the surplus is so great we are inviting guests everywhere to join us in celebration."

Visit the Krispy Kreme website to verify locations that are not participating in the offer.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks Announces Debut of Pumpkin Spice Latte K-Cups]]>Thu, 24 Mar 2016 11:55:36 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Starbucks_Pumpkin_Spice_Caffe_Latte_KCup_.JPG

Lovers of Starbucks' seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte can get their fix this year without extra-long lines or texting secret passwords for early access.

The autumnal fan-favorite drink will be available for the first time as a K-Cup.

Grocery stores nationwide are expected to carry Pumpkin Spice Caffe Latte K-Cup packs for a limited time this fall, a Starbucks spokesperson said. Suggested retail is $9.99 for a 10-count K-Cup pack and $12.99 for a 16-count pack.

Brace yourself for this dreamy description of the forthcoming latte: "Customers will be able to enjoy this creamy fall sip – swirling with real pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors combined with dairy – specially crafted to be enjoyed at home and complement our smooth, balanced Caffe Blend made from 100 percent arabica coffee."

Count us in.

The pumpkin spice K-Cup flavor is one of several from Starbucks, according to reports. Others include caramel, mocha and vanilla, as well as the seasonal peppermint mocha.

Last year, Starbucks released a new Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe, pushed back the annual debut date by a couple days and passed around a PSL Fan Pass with a top-secret password for customers to gain early access to the drink.

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[Suburban Kohl's Store Among 18 Set to Close Nationwide]]>Thu, 17 Mar 2016 16:28:59 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kohls+store.jpg

A suburban Kohl’s store is one of 18 the company plans to close in June.

The retailer’s St. Charles location, at 3840 E. Main St., will be closed by June 19, the company said.

Kohl’s Corp. announced last month that it was closing 18 brick-and-mortar stores across the country. CEO Kevin Mansell said the stores to be closed account for less than 1 percent of the company's sales.

In addition to the St. Charles location, nine stores will close in California, and eight other stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Wisconsin will also close.

The closures are a shift away from the retailer’s aggressive expansion of stores in recent years across the country.

“While the decision to close stores is a difficult one, we evaluated all of the elements that contribute to making a store successful, and we were thoughtful and strategic in our approach. We are committed to leveraging our resources on our more productive assets,” Mansell said in a statement.

But there is good news for some Midwest shoppers. The company will be opening seven new "smaller format" Kohl’s stores in various regions around the country, as well as two "off-aisle" pilot spin-off discount stores in Wisconsin.

Kohl’s will also make its first entry into the outlet space in the coming year, with plans to open 12 FILA outlet stores.

The Wisconsin-based retail chain reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $296 million Thursday on net income of $1.58 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The department store operator posted revenue of $6.4 billion for the quarter.

<![CDATA[Target Plans New Mysterious Startup]]>Thu, 10 Mar 2016 11:37:01 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/87874312.jpg

Target is looking to hire employees for a new mysterious startup.

The new franchise, called “Goldfish,” is looking to hire 20 team members to work out of the Minnesota-based retailer's tech office in Sunnyvale, California -- the heart of Silicon Valley. 

Little has been released on what exactly the new venture will become, but according to job descriptions, the company plans to bring “innovative project ideas to market via technology.”

“As a Goldfish team member, you'll have a direct impact on the innovation of cutting edge technologies,” a posting for the Head of Engineering reads. “We are ambitious and bent on disrupting the way people shop.”

“Goldfish” is still in its development phase and Target is not yet sharing what the project is about, said Jenna Reck, a spokesperson for Target. 

Target last year hired a number of team members, including entrepreneurs and residents, tasked with building new businesses to help “propel Target’s growth,” Reck said. 

Earlier this month, officials for the retailer revealed plans to boost annual spending on technology and supply chain initiatives to as much as $2.5 billion a year by 2017, according to the Washington Post

The company also increased its digital channel sales by 34 percent last year, according to fourth quarter results. 

The news comes less than a week after the retailer revealed major changes coming to its stores, including a revamping of its grocery business, additions for online shoppers and a new rewards program.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Target Reveals Big Changes Coming to Stores]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2016 16:02:43 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target-store-sign.jpg

Target is planning big changes in its stores that could make the Minnesota-based retailer a one-stop shop for customers.

Arguably the most notable change will be seen in the company’s grocery aisles.

"At $18.5 billion in sales, grocery is a huge business for Target, which is why we’ve doubled down on the fundamentals in food and are working to transform virtually every element of the grocery business," Target said in a statement.

Customers can expect to see "rolling changes in assortment, presentation, freshness, displays, signage" and more in the coming year, the company said.

Also among the changes will be a new, simpler loyalty program.

"Our current rewards offerings cover a lot of ground. And, while REDCard has been extremely successful, many guests want options beyond a tender-based loyalty program," Target said. "We’re looking to create a program that is clear and simple for guests to understand, offers rewards they care about and makes it easy to participate."

Target lauded its online sales growth for the last year, saying the company saw a 31 percent increase in 2015.

To continue the upward climb in the e-commerce industry, the company said it is testing a designated "order pickup" line in some stores.

It’s the latest announcement from Target, which recently revealed a new line of kids’ home collection, said to provide more neutral items that can be mixed and matched across genders

The company also made headlines when it started testing online grocery delivery service to let shoppers in the Minneapolis area order fruits and other perishables, as well as household, pet and baby products, and have them delivered to their homes in as little as an hour.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Meijer Supercenters Coming to 2 Chicago Suburbs]]>Wed, 02 Mar 2016 10:56:09 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Meijer+Superstore.png

Midwest retailer Meijer Inc. plans to invest more than $400 million in new and remodeled stores this year, including two being built in the Chicago area.

Grand Rapids-based Meijer announced Wednesday that the investment includes construction of nine new Meijer supercenters and 32 remodeling projects. New supercenters are scheduled to open this year in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Chief Executive Officer Hank Meijer says in a statement that the company is "pleased to continue to grow and invest in the Midwest communities that have supported us for so long."

Since 2010, Meijer has opened 36 new stores and remodeled dozens of others. The company says each new store creates as many as 300 jobs.

Meijer operates 224 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

The cities of the nine new Meijer supercenters, according to MLive, include:

  • Owensboro, Ky.
  • Evansville, Ind.
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Round Lake Beach, Ill.
  • Flossmoor, Ill
  • Sturgis, Mich.
  • Flat Rock, Mich.
  • Sussex, Wis.
  • Waukesha, Wis.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Meijer Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[Beam Suntory Moves Global Headquarters to Downtown Chicago]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 08:19:48 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-462501025.jpg

The alcohol maker Beam Suntory has announced that it will move its global headquarters to Chicago from suburban Deerfield by the end of next year.

The spirits company says it will move more than 450 employees to Chicago's Merchandise Mart. It is the latest company to leave the Chicago suburbs for the city.

Executives said Monday that the company has signed a letter intending to sublease 110,000 square feet in the building along the Chicago River. Beam Suntory CEO Matt Shattock says the company wants to focus on cities like Chicago where consumers, particularly millennials, work and live.

Employees will gradually start moving on Sept. 1. Relocation is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2017.

Kraft Heinz, Hillshire Brands, Walgreens and AT&T all have recently moved employees to downtown Chicago.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[McDonald's Tests New Breakfast Menu]]>Fri, 26 Feb 2016 13:10:39 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-481668528.jpg

McDonald’s is testing the addition of an entirely new breakfast menu.

The world’s largest hamburger chain said a test started this week for a new “Simple Delights Menu,” featuring things like breakfast bowls and Chobani Greek Yogurt.

The tests are being done at about 800 restaurants in Los Angeles and San Diego.

The new menu features “balanced options” for customers as the chain continues to move forward with its revitalization efforts.

Among the options are things like fruit and maple oatmeal, apple slices, cuties and the newly introduced breakfast bowls and yogurt options.

The two new breakfast bowls are expected to be sold during regular business hours for $4.39. Options include an Egg White and Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl and a Scrambled Egg and Chorizo Breakfast Bowl.

The Southern California locations will also feature a new Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait as well as McCafe Fruit Smoothies, which will also include Chobani Greek Yogurt.

McDonald's is riding high from its biggest quarterly U.S. sales jump in nearly four years. The Oak Brook, Illinois company said in January that sales rose 5.7 percent in the last three months of 2015, boosted by its all-day breakfast menu and unseasonably warm weather.

Last month, McDonald’s pushed its operation limits by adding new items to its all-day breakfast lineup, though the turnaround push is far from over. The company's U.S. customer visits fell 3 percent last year, following a 4.1 percent drop in 2014.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts Battles McDonald's in All-Day Breakfast Trend]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 15:01:57 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd-dunkin-donuts-st.jpg+19+feb.jpg

Dunkin’ Donuts may be trying to take a bigger bite out of the all-day breakfast game.

The doughnut and coffee chain has started changing menus and drive-thru signs at 8,400 U.S. shops to showcase its signature coffee and “all day breakfast” options amid declining sales and increasingly tough competition, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Dunkin’ Brands Chief Executive Officer Nigel Travis reportedly said “revitalized burger players” were hurting the chain and customers now have “plenty of options from which to choose to get their morning coffee and afternoon pick-me-up,” Crain’s reported.

McDonald's is riding high from its biggest quarterly U.S. sales jump in nearly four years. The Oak Brook, Illinois company said in January that sales rose 5.7 percent in the last three months of 2015, boosted by its all-day breakfast menu and unseasonably warm weather.

Last month, McDonald’s pushed its operation limits by adding new items to its all-day breakfast lineup, though the turnaround push for the world’s largest hamburger chain is far from over. The company's U.S. customer visits fell 3 percent last year, following a 4.1 percent drop in 2014.

Still, the all-day breakfast reminder is the latest attempt Dunkin' Donuts has made to catch up with rivals.

Late last year, Dunkin’ Donuts began testing delivery and on-the-go ordering in a number of states.

Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks Corp. also offers on-the-go ordering at 7,400 company-owned U.S. stores and was testing deliveries in certain cities.


<![CDATA[Kohl's Plans to Close 18 Stores in 2016]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 13:57:34 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KOHLS.png

Kohl's Corp. says it will close a small fraction of brick-and-mortar stores as it meets the needs of its online customers.

Kohl's closure of 18 stores this year is a shift away from its aggressive expansion of stores in recent years across the country. CEO Kevin Mansell said the stores to be closed account for less than 1 percent of the company's sales. The company will announce which stores will be closed in March. 

“While the decision to close stores is a difficult one, we evaluated all of the elements that contribute to making a store successful, and we were thoughtful and strategic in our approach. We are committed to
leveraging our resources on our more productive assets,” Mansell said.

But there is good news for some Midwest shoppers. The company will be opening seven new "smaller format" Kohl’s stores in various regions around the country, as well as two "off-aisle" pilot spin-off discount stores in Wisconsin.

Kohl’s will also make its first entry into the outlet space in the coming year, with plans to open 12 FILA outlet stores.

The Wisconsin-based retail chain reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $296 million Thursday on net income of $1.58 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The department store operator posted revenue of $6.4 billion for the quarter.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Testing Chobani Yogurt]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 08:58:24 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cms689.jpg

McDonald's is partnering with Chobani to offer Greek yogurt parfaits and smoothies at its Southern California restaurants as the fast-food giant works to transform into a "modern, progressive burger company."

McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb said the partnership is limited to a regional test of about 800 restaurants in Los Angeles and San Diego.

"It's very premature to determine if it may expand," she wrote.

The Southern California restaurants are offering a "Simple Delights Menu" that lists options like apple slices, smoothies and the yogurt parfait made with Chobani.

SoCal restaurants also began selling two breakfast bowls this week. One is made with egg whites, turkey sausage, spinach and kale. The other is made with scrambled eggs and chorizo and includes a hash brown. The chain had tested the bowls on a more limited basis last year, which McComb said was for "operational learnings and customer feedback."

The change-up comes as McDonald's Corp. fights to step up its image, as sales have slumped amid changing tastes and intensifying competition. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took over last March, has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company." One of the biggest moves under Easterbrook was the introduction of an all-day breakfast menu in October, which generated positive headlines for the company.

Whether it leads to sustained sales growth remains to be seen. In January, McDonald's said sales jumped 5.7 percent at established U.S. locations in the last three months of 2015, marking its best showing in four years. But the company did not disclose how much of the increase was driven by an uptick in customer visits, versus factors such as price hikes.

A Chobani representative was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. The partnership was reported earlier Tuesday in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Trades Toys for Books Temporarily]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 04:46:57 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds19.jpg

McDonald’s is offering kids something other than toys with their Happy Meals this month.

Children can choose to get a book instead of a prize with their meals through Feb. 15, the company said in a release.

The four different books that are available are: “Paddington” by Michael Bond; “Clark the Shark Takes Heart” by Bruce Hale; “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Laura Numeroff; and “Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool” by Kimberly and James Dean.

McDonald’s is partnering with Reading is Fundamental for the book drive, donating 100,000 books to the literacy nonprofit.

“Ensuring children have access to books has proven instrumental in combating illiteracy in children in the United States,” said Carol Rasco, the president and CEO of Reading is Fundamental.

This is the third year McDonald’s has made the book offer, according to the release. The first time was in 2013 and by the time the 15th rolls around, the chain will have distributed over 10 million books to kids.


<![CDATA[McDonald’s Faces Lawsuit Over ‘Deceptive’ Mozzarella Sticks]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 09:18:45 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds19.jpg

After a flurry of social media posts accused McDonald’s of serving customers mozzarella sticks without the cheese, the fast-food giant faces another damning complaint.

A California resident filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s on Jan. 29, according to documents given to NBC Chicago. The suit alleges that the chain — based in suburban Oak Brook, Illinois — falsely advertised mozzarella sticks as "real mozzarella," and made with "100 percent real cheese."

The lawsuit claims that "McDonald’s has used starch as a cheap substitute and filler" instead of using only cheese in the mozzarella sticks, calling McDonald's labeling and advertising "misleading, deceptive, unfair, and fraudulent."

In a statement released to NBC Chicago, McDonald’s wrote, "Our mozzarella cheese sticks are made with 100% low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations."

The latest cheese controversy comes after McDonald’s customers took to social media last week to complain after their mozzarella sticks came without cheese.

The company responded to the cheese controversy in a statement to NBC Chicago, explaining that the cheese may have melted out of the sticks during the cooking process.

"We are aware of a low volume of guest concerns about our Mozzarella Cheese Sticks," spokeswoman Lisa McComb said in an emailed statement. "In these instances, we believe the cheese melted out during the baking process in our kitchens and shouldn't have been served. We apologize to any customers who may have been affected. We are working to fix this in our restaurants."

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<![CDATA[McDonald's Customers Say Mozzarella Sticks Came Without Cheese]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 11:09:06 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/CYWF3ypUAAAfAav.jpg

McDonald’s customers have taken to social media after finding their mozzarella sticks came without cheese.

Twitter users blasted the company with photos confirming the cheese was missing.

"My girl got mozzarella sticks from McDonald's and they gave her them with no cheese @McDonalds y'all slacking," wrote @AntoineFulton.

"@McDonalds I just bought your mozzarella sticks and not one of the three had cheese in the middle. This is pathetic," said @piercenick5.

The company responded to the cheese controversy in a statement to NBC Chicago, explaining that the cheese possibly melted out of the sticks during the cooking process.

"We are aware of a low volume of guest concerns about our Mozzarella Cheese Sticks," spokeswoman Lisa McComb said in an emailed statement. "In these instances, we believe the cheese melted out during the baking process in our kitchens and shouldn't have been served. We apologize to any customers who may have been affected. We are working to fix this in our restaurants."

The Oak Brook-based chain announced its plans to add the snacks to its menus late last year. 

More recently, the company announced it will start offering an expanded all-day breakfast menu that adds McGriddle and biscuit sandwiches in 72 restaurants in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Photo Credit: @piercenick5/Twitter
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<![CDATA[10 Most In-Demand Jobs in Chicago for 2016: Report]]>Tue, 19 Jan 2016 13:01:13 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/jobs+employment+generic+newspaper.jpg

If you’re looking for a new job this year you might want to consider getting into the health care and tech industries.

According to a new report from Crain’s Chicago Business, demand and pay are up for 10 professions in the Chicago area and the trending industries on the list are health care and tech.

The list ranked the 10 most in-demand Chicago jobs in 2016 that pay $60,000 or more. The ranking used data on growth projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics and interviews from local staffing professionals.

According to the list, industrial organizational psychologists are set to see the biggest growth in the next decade, jumping 53 percent. With salaries ranging from $83,500 to $112,300, experienced psychologists working with corporations will be a prominent field in the coming years.

Also projected to grow significantly in the next 10 years are openings for diagnostic medical sonographers. With the potential to earn into the low figures, sonographers are expected to see growth of up to 46 percent.

Here’s the full list of most in-demand Chicago jobs, and their salaries, according to Crain’s:

1. Java Developer
Projected Growth: 17 percent
Median Salary: $98,000
What they do: Write programs used by mobile devices, websites and mainframes.

2. Information Security Analyst
Projected Growth: 18 percent
Median Salary: $89,000
What they do: Plan security measures to protect companies from cyberattacks. Monitor an organization’s computer networks and system, manage software installations and expose any potential hacking weaknesses.

3. Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Projected Growth: 22 percent
Median Salary: $97,300
What they do: Make sure a company’s pharmaceutical products meet federal regulations and laws.

4. Biomedical Engineer
Projected Growth: 23 percent
Median Salary: $87,000
What they do: Apply engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes.

5. Orthotist/Prosthetist
Projected Growth: 23 percent
Median Salary: $60,000
What they do: Design and fit prosthetic limbs for patients.

6. Occupational Therapist
Projected Growth: 27 percent
Median Salary: $78,800
What they do: Treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

7. Audiologist
Projected Growth: 29 percent
Median Salary: $73,000
What they do: Identifying and assessing hearing loss and balance problems for patients and fitting them with hearing aids.

8. Genetic Counselor
Projected Growth: 29 percent
Median Salary: $74,000
What they do: Use family and medical histories to assess a patient’s chance of disease and assist with testing, prevention, counseling and management of patients with such diseases.

9. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Projected Growth: 46 percent
Median Salary: $62,500
What they do: Healthcare workers who perform diagnostic medical sonography, or ultrasound. Though often associated with pregnancies, sonographers use sound waves to generate images that can be used for assessing and diagnosing medical conditions.

10. Industrial Organizational Psychologist
Projected Growth: 53 percent
Median Salary: $83,500-$112,300
What they do: Use psychological principles for business and organizational issues. The can assist in hiring and training employees, determining suitability for leadership roles and assisting with work performance enhancement.

<![CDATA[McDonald's Testing New Mac and Cheese Side]]>Tue, 22 Dec 2015 17:19:34 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Mac-Cheese.jpg

McDonald’s has confirmed that the chain is testing mac and cheese at certain restaurants in the northeast Ohio area.

“We’re always looking for new ways to offer relevant tastes to our customers, so we’re giving that it a try and gathering valuable feedback from our customers,” Phil Saken, the communications manager for McDonald's Ohio region, told NBC Chicago.

The mac and cheese is selling for $1.75 a la carte and $3.00 in a Happy Meal as an entrée option, Saken said. The 4-ounce servings are a “blend of cheeses used for this ooey gooey goodness.”

Unfortunately, it isn’t clear if it will be offered in any other states. However, the Oak Brook-based chain has announced there will be a new addition to menus across the U.S. next year.

McDonald's USA President Mike Andres has announced plans to widely offer mozzarella sticks in the U.S. as “a snack item to add to your order."

Photo Credit: McDonald's]]>
<![CDATA[What Shoppers Aren't Buying This Holiday Season: Report]]>Wed, 16 Dec 2015 13:47:27 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Generic+Gifts+Generic+Holiday+Shopping.jpg

More shoppers may be saying “bah humbug” to clothes this holiday season.

According to a report by Crain’s Chicago Business, the season’s top holiday trends don’t feature much clothing, and recent sales reports indicate the dip in consumption is affecting some major apparel retailers.

Data from IBM Watson Trend, which reports an instant analysis of what consumers are buying, shows the current items on most wishlists are an Apple Watch, Samsung TVs, Sony TVs, Lego Friends and Lego Star Wars. In fact, the only clothing item to make it into the season’s current trending items list was running shoes.

The National Retail Federation noted Tuesday that millions of shoppers still have a lengthy list to finalize.

“While we witnessed an early start to the holiday shopping season and an extraordinary Thanksgiving weekend, some of the busiest shopping days of the year are still to come,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We expect retailers will be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, including extended store hours and in-store events, as well as online deals and free shipping offers. Even an unseasonably warm winter cannot keep last-minute shoppers from putting off their holiday purchases anymore.”

According to their final consumer holiday spending survey, however, 50.8 percent of shoppers say they have already purchased clothing and acccessories gifts. That's compared to only 34.5 percent who have bought toys and 22.8 percent who bought electronic items. 

Recent retail data showed sales at clothing and accessories stores have increased 0.8 percent since October, but decreased 1.6 percent when compared to last year. 

Crain’s reported that a dip in sales has forced various reactions from larger retail companies.

For example, Macy’s announced last month that it has “begun a process to explore joint ventures or other deal structures with third parties to redevelop” flagship spaces in Chicago, Manhattan, San Francisco and Minneapolis. The decision came after the company said “the pace of sales” did not improve in the third quarter.

“Spending by domestic customers remained tepid, especially in key apparel and accessory categories,” Macy’s said in a release.

In November, major retailer Nordstrom Inc. revealed the company’s third quarter performance was below company expectations, citing “softer sales trends that were generally consistent across channels and merchandise categories.”

Earlier this year, Gap Inc. revealed plans to close 175 stores and eliminate 250 jobs at its headquarters.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Prime Begins Grocery Delivery in Chicago]]>Thu, 10 Dec 2015 14:59:11 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_93380942358.jpg

Online retailer Amazon expanded its one-hour delivery service Thursday to include groceries for Chicago residents who are members of Amazon Prime.

The service will include groceries, prepared meals and baked goods from Plum Market, Sprinkles Cupcakes and My Fit Foods, according to Amazon. The goods can be ordered through the Prime Now app.

One-hour delivery costs Prime members $7.99 on top of the standard membership fee, and two-hour delivery is free.

Plum Market offers all-natural, organic, local and specialty food items. The grocery chain has one store in Chicago, located at 1233 N. Wells St. in the Old Town neighborhood.

Prime Now is currently available in more than 20 cities across the U.S., including Chicago and Indianapolis.

Photo Credit: AP - FILE]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Offers New Sandwiches, Table Service at Some Locations]]>Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:50:46 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonald%27s+worker+getty.jpg

Hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants are about to get new sandwich menu items and an entirely new way of ordering.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based chain announced Wednesday that it plans to offer up Taste Crafted Burgers and Chicken in roughly 600 Southern California restaurants and also plans to test table service at those locations. 

According to the company, the new menu items allow customers to create a sandwich by giving them the option of beef, buttermilk crispy chicken or artisan grilled chicken and a choice between a sesame seed bun, a potato roll or an artisan roll. Customers can also choose one of four flavor options, including pico guacamole, buffalo bacon, maple bacon Dijon and deluxe.

"Consumers have told us that they are looking for variety and the ability to customize their choices. Taste Crafted Burgers and Chicken allows us to cater to our customers' desires," said Clay Paschen III, president, McDonald's Operators' Association of Southern California (MOASC). "We're excited to bring these delicious ingredients, delectable flavors and variety to our Southern California customers."

The table service test means customers will place their order at the front counter and receive a metal stand with their order number on it. They can take the stand to their table and their food will be delivered to them, a company spokesperson confirmed. 

"We know that eating out is about the whole experience from start to finish," said spokeswoman Lisa McComb. "This extra touch of hospitality makes every visit more enjoyable from the time customers order until they are ready to leave."

It was not clear if the sandwich option and table service would eventually be rolled out nationwide, but McComb said the company is focused on "gathering the valuable customer and crew feedback from this test."

Last month, Bloomberg reported that McDonald’s rolled out a new method for taking orders from the drive-thru window to ensure accuracy. The company also announced plans to offer mozzarella sticks nationwide next year.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Named Best Retailer for 2015 Cyber Week]]>Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:54:54 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cyber+monday+TLMD.jpg

Those who choose to skip out on the Black Friday chaos may choose to explore Cyber Monday deals instead, but for shoppers looking to save even more during the online shopping frenzy, it appears some retailers are better than others.

According to Wallethub, a personal finance website, an analysis of thousands of holiday cyber deals from 30 of the biggest U.S. retailers shows a Chicago-based organization is offering the largest discounts for 2015.

Groupon was listed as the best retailer for Cyber Week, with a 62-percent discount rate, according to the report. The Chicago company was followed in the ranking by Belk, Bon-Ton, JCPenney, Macy’s, eBay, Kohl’s, Sears, Amazon and Kmart.

The most discounted category for Cyber Week was jewelry, while computers, phones and video games were the least discounted items, according to the study.

Cyber Monday sales are expected to hit the $3 billion mark for the first time this year, the largest one-day sales total in e-commerce history, the report states.

The average discount for the online event is 36 percent, Wallethub stated, noting that in 5 out of 9 products analyzed in the study, discounts were bigger on Black Friday.

The worst retailers listed in the study were Gander Mountain, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Best Buy and Gap. 

<![CDATA[McDonald's Changes Process for Drive-Thru Orders]]>Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:46:53 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cms671.jpg

McDonald’s knows there is nothing more annoying than waiting out a long line at the drive-thru only to get your food and realize something is wrong with your order, which is why the fast-food giant has reportedly rolled out a brand new method for taking orders from the drive-thru window.

About 70 percent of McDonald’s orders come from people who never leave their car and the restaurant chain is hoping a new measure called "ask, ask, tell" will keep customers happy by ensuring their orders are right, according to Bloomberg.

"Ask, ask, tell" slows down the drive-thru ordering process for McDonald’s U.S. stores, requiring employees to repeat the orders back to customers three times: first when they place their order, a second time at the window when they pay and a final time when they hand customers their food.

The new process gives customers three different times in the drive-thru process to ensure every detail of their order is correct down to the condiments and special modifications, but it will likely create a slightly longer wait time for the added steps for each single order.

McDonald’s has also asked storefronts to turn off the pre-recorded greetings at drive-thrus so real employees say hello instead, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.

Finally, workers will no longer fold over the tops of bags at the end of the ordering process, so customers can easily peak inside to make sure their food is correct.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tyson Closing Plants in Chicago and Wisconsin ]]>Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:00:26 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tyson_logo.jpg

Tyson Foods says it's closing plants in Chicago and Jefferson, Wisconsin, in a move that will affect 880 workers.

Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson said in a statement Thursday the closures are due to changing product needs, the age of both facilities and prohibitive costs of renovations, as well as the distance of the Chicago plant from its raw material suppliers.

Job losses at the Chicago plant, which makes prepared foods for the hospitality industry, will total around 480 people. Another 400 positions will be lost at the Jefferson plant, which makes sliced pepperoni and ham for pizza toppings, as well as sliced pepperoni and salami for deli and food service applications.

The company expects to close the plants in the second half of its fiscal year, which ends Oct 1, 2016. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[These Are The New Items Replacing McDonald's Dollar Menu]]>Mon, 16 Nov 2015 14:32:02 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/186*120/GettyImages-159067598+%281%29.jpg

It's the Dollar Menu, take two.

McDonald's hopes it has a catchy, new deal that will be as hugely popular as its Dollar Menu. Starting Jan. 4, the fast-food chain will launch the "McPick 2" menu, which will let customers pick two of the following items for $2: a McDouble, a McChicken, small fries and mozzarella sticks.

The offering has gained the necessary votes from franchisees to make it onto the national menu, and will be available in U.S. restaurants for a five-week run starting Jan. 4. After that, McDonald's said it may change the details of the offering, but that it plans to stick with the "McPick" concept and name.

It's just the latest effort by McDonald's to revive slumping sales with bigger moves, such as making breakfast items like Egg McMuffins available all day. The chain has also been trying to find a new way to attract deal seekers after moving away from the Dollar Menu, which was introduced more than a decade ago.

"As we moved away from the Dollar Menu, we didn't replace it with offers of an equivalent form of value. And customers have voted with their feet," CEO Steve Easterbrook said in July.

Whether the McPick menu catches on remains to be seen.

In an attempt to wean customers off the Dollar Menu in 2012, McDonald's rolled out an "Extra Value Menu" that offered items for a range of prices. After that failed to take hold, the company turned to the "Dollar Menu & More," which channeled a proven name but may have confused people with its range of prices.

McDonald's isn't alone in struggling to get customers to let go of the $1 price. Wendy's tried replacing its 99-cent menu with a "Right Price Right Size" menu, but acknowledged the switch wasn't doing the job. Last month, it began promoting a limited-time "4 for $4" deal that includes a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, fries and a drink.

Deborah Wahl, senior vice president of marketing for the U.S., said the McPick platform was designed to give people options.

"Customers are looking for choice and flexibility. That's sort of the new definition of value," she said.

While deals remain a staple in fast-food industry, striking on the right one can be tricky. Franchises pay for ingredients like beef and cheese and have to think about whether they can charge low prices and still make money. Companies, meanwhile, get a percentage of sales in royalty fees no matter what.

That can lead to tensions over pricing. In 2009, for instance, Burger King franchisees sued the company over a $1 double cheeseburger they said they were losing money on. The suit was later settled.

As for the McPick menu, McDonald's noted that it has wide support and gained a "high majority" of franchisee votes, although it declined to provide details. When asked whether franchisees in regions with higher costs such as New York might lose money on the offer, Wahl said the deal is designed to drive customer traffic into stores.

McDonald's Corp., based in Oak Brook, Illinois, said votes from franchisees on the McPick menu were finalized Monday, although it secured the needed votes for approval earlier.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Macy's Considers Redeveloping Flagship State Street Store]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:23:27 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-458643256.jpg

Macy’s announced Wednesday that it is considering redeveloping its flagship State Street store in Chicago, among others.

The company said in a release it has “begun a process to explore joint ventures or other deal structures with third parties to redevelop” flagship spaces in Chicago, Manhattan, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

The redevelopment would be done in “a manner that maintains a robust Macy’s retail store presence while also bringing alternative use into those buildings,” Macy’s said.

The announcement came as Macy’s revealed its third-quarter financial results.

“We are disappointed that the pace of sales did not improve in the third quarter, as we had expected,” Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc., said in a statement. “Spending by domestic customers remained tepid, especially in key apparel and accessory categories. Simultaneously, the slowdown in buying by international visitors continued to significantly impact Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in tourist centers, which are some of our company’s largest-volume and most profitable locations.”

The company announced in September it planned to close 35 to 40 locations in early 2016, or as much as 5 percent of its namesake department stores.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kroger to Buy Roundy's for $178M to Expand in Midwest]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 10:31:42 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/marianos.png

Kroger said Wednesday that it plans to buy fellow grocer Roundy's for about $178 million to expand in the Midwest.

Roundy's Inc. owns about 150 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. Its shops include Copps, Mariano's, Metro Market and Pick 'n Save.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said the deal will give it a presence in new areas. Kroger Co. operates more than 2,600 stores in 34 states. It owns several supermarket chains, including City Market, Ralphs and Harris Teeter.

Together Kroger and Roundy’s will operate 2,774 supermarkets and employ over 422,000 associates, according to the company.

“We are excited about becoming part of The Kroger Co.," said Robert A. Mariano, chief executive officer of Roundy’s, Inc. "Kroger’s scale, knowledge and experience allows us to accelerate the strategic initiatives we have invested in and makes us a more formidable competitor in the marketplace. This is a great win for our customers, communities, employees and our shareholders, and I personally look forward to continue to exceed customer and employee expectations. ”

Kroger said it doesn't plan to close any stores and Roundy's headquarters will stay in Milwaukee.

As part of the deal, Kroger said it will pay $3.60 for each share of Roundy's, a 61 percent premium over its closing price of $2.18 on Tuesday. Including debt, Kroger valued the deal at $800 million.

"We admire what Bob Mariano has done with the Mariano’s banner in Chicago," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "He has created an urban format that is resonating with customers and we expect to apply Roundy’s experience to our stores in urban areas around the country," 

The deal is expected to close before the end of the year, although Roundy's has an option to find another buyer within 30 days.

Shares of Roundy's jumped $1.40, or 64 percent, to $3.58 in morning trading Wednesday. Kroger shares slipped 31 cents to $36.96.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA['Make Our Wages Supersize': Group Marches in Chicago in Fight for 15 Protest]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 18:17:24 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fight+for+15+2.JPG

More than a hundred fast food workers and their supporters protested in Chicago Tuesday to call for a national minimum wage of $15 an hour along with the right to unionize.

The group gathered early Tuesday morning outside the McDonald’s at Milwaukee and Western shouting “hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages supersized.”

“It basically means poverty,” said Solo Littlejohn, who makes $8.25 an hour as a cook for Kentucky Fried Chicken. “We have to make sacrifices. There are places where we cannot get the simple things that we need. Simple things like body wash, shampoo… simple things we should have to go without.”

The Fight for 15 movement sponsored marches like the one in Chicago in 270 cities nationwide, hoping to become a powerful political bloc with the presidential elections nearly a year away.

By mid-morning protesters marched from Milwaukee and Western to a McDonald’s at 356th Street and Indiana.

“As a single parent with one child I need at least $22 an hour,” said Mary Hood, who earned $10.50 an hour at McDonald’s. “At least at $15 [an hour] I can do more. With what I am making now I can barely do anything.”

McDonald’s raised wages at company-owned restaurants in July to $1 more than the locally mandated minimum wage; it also created new learning opportunities for employees, the company said. 

“Generally speaking, the topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald's - it affects our country's entire workforce,” McDonald’s said in a statement Tuesday. “McDonald's and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses - like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants - is manageable. We respect people's right to peacefully protest, and our restaurants remain open every day with the focus on providing an exceptional experience for our customers."

But protesters said Tuesday’s march was about more than just minimum wage – adding that it was also about racial and economic justice.

That’s why the group says it marched to Chicago Police headquarters Tuesday afternoon and called for the firing of Dante Servin, the officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd three years ago.

The Chicago agency responsible for investigating allegations for police misconduct recommended in September that Servin be fired for the fatal off-duty shooting. Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is expected to determine if Servin will remain on the force.  

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Offer Mozzarella Sticks Nationwide Next Year]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:05:15 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/mcdonalds-sign-gallery.jpg

McDonald’s plans to add a new snack item to menus across the country next year.

McDonald's USA President Mike Andres announced plans Tuesday to widely offer mozzarella sticks in the U.S. as “a snack item to add to your order,” a company spokesperson confirmed. 

The move is the latest addition to the Oak Brook-based chain’s menus.

The fast food giant made headlines after it rolled out all-day breakfast options nationally last month.

Reports have also indicated the chain may soon chop the Dollar Menu and add a $2 menu in a program called the “Pick 2.” The “Pick 2” would allow customers to choose two items for $2. Franchise owners were expected to vote on the 2-for-2 deal late last month.

The franchise is also making a few other tweaks as a way to entice customers, like toasting burger buns longer and searing burger patties. Most recently, the company revealed plans to test Monster drinks at about 20 restaurants in the U.S., including in Illinois.

Since new CEO Steve Easterbrook took over the company in March, McDonald’s has seen an uptick in sales at U.S. locations during the third quarter. It’s the first time sales have increased in two years.

Easterbrook has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com/File
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<![CDATA[SC Johnson to Move 175 Jobs to Chicago]]>Sat, 07 Nov 2015 17:46:13 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ziploc+bags.jpg

S.C. Johnson and Son Incorporated announced it will invest $50 million to $80 million in its global headquarters in Racine and move 175 jobs to Chicago within the next year or two.

Senior vice president of global corporate affairs Kelly Semrau says the construction project is expected to start next spring and be finished in about two years. And the company says locating some jobs in Chicago will help expand the company's talent pool so it can remain competitive. No jobs will be eliminated.

S.C. Johnson, a maker of household products, has about 13,000 employees worldwide, including 2,250 in the Racine area.

The company is known for manufacturing products under brands including Pledge, Raid, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex and Ziploc.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Eyeing Showroom on Michigan Avenue]]>Sat, 07 Nov 2015 15:26:00 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_744246684318.jpg

The Magnificent Mile may become a little more magnificent in coming months, as luxury car maker Tesla Motors is in talks to lease a two-level showroom in the Park Hyatt Chicago. 

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is reportedly looking into opening a flagship Tesla showroom at 800 N. Michigan Ave, according to Crain's Chicago Business. The two-level, 10,000-square foot space has been vacant since clothing brand Giorgio Armani moved its boutique to Oak Street in August. 

The lease has not been finalized and other potential tenants, including other car companies, have been looking into the space. Tesla is unique in that the company sells its cars directly to customers, rather than through a traditional dealership structure.

In 2009, the company opened a sales and service center at 1053 W. Grand Ave., and three other locations in various Chicago suburbs have opened since. Car aficionados recognize Tesla as a luxury brand, with status symbol cars like the Model S selling for around $75,000. 

Photo Credit: AP-FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Heinz to Move Oscar Mayer HQ to Chicago]]>Wed, 04 Nov 2015 14:10:57 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/OscarMayer2.jpg

Kraft Heinz announced Wednesday it will move the headquarters for Oscar Mayer to Chicago in 2016.

Early next year, an estimated 250 Oscar Mayer employees will move from Madison, Wisconsin, to the new Kraft Heinz co-headquarters at the AON Center, where Kraft Heinz signed a 12.5-year lease earlier this year, according to a statement from the mayor's office. 

Along with the move to Chicago, Kraft Heinz will close seven North American manufacturing facilities, including the one in Madison, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, Kraft Heinz announced it was cutting about 2,500 jobs to help slash costs after Kraft and Heinz combined. About 700 of those cuts were to come to Kraft's Northfield, Illinois, headquarters.

"Oscar Mayer's decision to return to Chicago is a reflection of the talent of our workforce, the strength of our world-class transportation networks and the certainty and confidence we have given businesses that invest in our city ... Oscar Mayer's move to Chicago adds to our strength as a leading destination for food companies and I look forward to watching them create more jobs for our residents and build a great future here in Chicago," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Oscar Mayer]]>
<![CDATA[Target Closing 13 Stores Nationwide, Citing Falling Profits]]>Wed, 04 Nov 2015 13:48:17 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-71478723.jpg

Target plans to close 13 stores nationwide in 2016, including several in the Midwest.

The Minneapolis-based retailer says a decision to close a store usually follows several years of decreasing profitability. The retail giant plans to close the stores on Jan. 30, 2016. The 13 are among Target's nearly 1,800 stores in the U.S.

Target was hurt by a massive credit-card breach before Christmas 2013 that sent shoppers temporarily fleeing. The company also botched a major expansion into Canada and pulled the plug on that earlier this year.

Layoffs in 2015 included 2,500 jobs, or about one-fifth of the workers in the company's corporate offices in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park.

The 13 stores slated to close in 2016, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, are located in:

Casa Grande, Arizona
Victorville, California
Suncoast Pasco County in Odessa, Florida
Dixie Highway in Louisville, Kentucky
Anderson, Indiana
Ottumwa, Iowa
East Flint in Flint, Michigan
New Ulm, Minnesota
Springfield, Ohio
Columbus Southwest in Columbus, Ohio
Austin North East in Austin, Texas
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Superior, Wisconsin

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Wiener's Circle Dresses for Halloween]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 16:35:52 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/image2116.JPG

Who said restaurants can’t dress up for Halloween? 

Wiener's Circle – the hot dog stand that became known for its sassy staffers – decided to convert its store into McDowell's, just like the fictional restaurant in the 1988 film "Coming to America."

The restaurant went all out; all the signs were changed to McDowell's, and all the workers dressed as fast-food workers from the movie. General Manager Scott Brooker said customers have been fooled, thinking the famous stand is no longer operating (but don’t worry, they are still serving their famous hot dogs).

In the film, Cleo McDowell explains how his restaurant is different from McDonald’s: “They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds.”

Winer's Circle was sold last month, but Brooker explained that while they are under new leadership, restaurant management wanted to let everyone know they are still serving hot dogs that have been named as among the best in the country.

“McDowell’s just seemed like the best way to do it,” Brooker said. “We’re across from McDonald's. They got the Big Mac, we got the Big Mick.”

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.”

The Wiener Circle will serve the "Big Mick" through the weekend.

<![CDATA[Peet's Coffee & Tea Buys Intelligentsia Coffee]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:54:04 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*121/Intelligentsia+Coffee+Bar.jpg

Peet’s Coffee and Tea on Friday announced that it has acquired a majority stake in Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee.

It’s a move Intelligentsia founder Doug Zell called “interesting and rewarding.”

The coffee roaster, which started in October of 1995 and made a name for itself as a small, independent coffee company,  currently has locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, but according to Peet's, that won't change with the acquisition. 

Intelligentsia’s co-founders and the company’s co-owner said they will still have a significant stake in the company and Intelligentsia will “continue to operate independently."

“Peet's recognizes that we are special and wants to provide a canvas that will allow more of the world to see the picture we are painting,” Doug Zell, founder of Intelligentsia, wrote in a letter Friday. “Perhaps a good analogy is we've been showing our artwork at a local gallery and now have an opportunity for a spot at the Louvre.”

Peet's said everything from the farmers Intelligentsia uses to the process it uses to acquire its coffee will remain the same, but the company will have "full access to Peet's resources and scale."

The announcement comes just weeks after Peet’s Coffee & Tea acquired ownership of Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

“As the super-premium coffee category further explodes and fragments due to more consumers (18-34 year olds) demanding variety and highly specialized coffee experiences, it’s important that we offer differentiated craft coffee brands with unique propositions and appeal,” Dave Burwick, CEO of Peet’s Coffee, said in a statement. “With the recent addition of both Intelligentsia and Stumptown, together with Peet’s, we are building a craft powerhouse of highly complementary brands and businesses that satisfy the desires of the new coffee connoisseur as well as traditional craft coffee consumers."

In 2013, Caribou Coffee closed 18 Chicago locations, converting several stores to Peet’s Coffee & Tea shops.

<![CDATA[Date Set for Opening of New Suburban Portillo's Restaurant]]>Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:30:41 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/portillos3.png

The date for the opening of the Portillo’s restaurant in Gurnee has been set.

Fans can visit the new location in Gurnee Mills Circle at 6102 W. Grand Avenue on November 10th at 10:30 a.m.

The chain said on its Facebook page that the location was inspired in part by a man who started a campaign to get one in the suburb. Joe Kahn created another Facebook page, “Gurnee Wants a Portillo’s,” because people in the area couldn’t wait for one to open.

“Portillo’s opening in Gurnee has been a hot topic as long as I’ve lived here. Every time a new parcel of land would open up or a new building was started, there were rumors that it was going to be a Portillo’s. But it never was,” Kahn said in an interview with the restaurant. “I got the idea to start the Facebook page as a way to not only be a central source of information, but as a way to get support for what I truly believed was a solid location for a new store.”

A Facebook event page has been made for the opening of the new location. People in the area hope to beat the Portillo’s attendance record of 5,000 set in Rockford, according to the page.

Photo Credit: Instagram/PortillosHotDogs]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Dog Emoji Now Available on Apple Devices]]>Thu, 22 Oct 2015 16:30:44 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hot+dog+emoji.jpg

The hot dog emoji is now available with Apple’s latest update to allow Mac and iPhone users to express their love for the beloved food.

Some local business took to social media to celebrate the new emoji.

It should be noted that the emoji comes after a campaign last year by Chicago hot dog restaurant Superdawg to make it a reality.

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

Ustick noticed a demand for the emoji after witnessing Twitter discussions about the absence of a hot dog. After that, she has joined the conversation and created a prototype for the emoji. She even launched a Change.org petition asking emoji creator Shigetaka Kurita to add a hotdog symbol -- without ketchup -- to the visual library.

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

Ustick used social media sites like Twitter and the Facebook page "Hot Dog Emoji Coalition" to get the word out.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Dollar Menu Could Get Chopped]]>Thu, 22 Oct 2015 13:35:01 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+drive+thru.jpg

McDonald’s turnaround plan includes a major menu change.

Nation’s Restaurant News reports the Dollar Menu may soon become the $2 dollar menu. McDonald’s has dubbed the program “Pick 2,” and will allow customers to choose two items for $2. Franchise owners will take a vote on the 2-for-2 deal later this month.

McDonald’s first introduced the Dollar Menu in 2002, but has moved away from the option as costs for ingredients have climbed.

The franchise is also making a few other tweaks as a way to entice customers, like toasting burger buns longer and searing burger patties. Most recently, the company revealed plans to test Monster drinks at about 20 restaurants in the U.S., including in Illinois.

Since new CEO Steve Easterbrook took over the Oak Brook-based company in March, McDonald’s has seen an uptick in sales at U.S. locations during the third quarter. It’s the first time sales have increased in two years.

New CEO Steve Easterbrook took over the Oak Brook-based company in March. Easterbrook said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago-Based Radio Flyer Named Best Small Workplace]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 19:01:52 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/radio+flyer+wagons.jpg

A Chicago company has been named the best small company to work for in the U.S. in an annual ranking of small- and medium-sized companies by Fortune magazine.

Radio Flyer, the maker of the famous little red wagon, nabbed the No. 1 spot on the list of the best small workplaces. Today, the company is the leading producer of wagons, tricycles and three-wheel scooters and employs 58 people in the U.S. and 35 outside of the country.

In its company profile in Fortune magazine, Radio Flyer hit the jackpot for offering telecommuting, compressed work weeks, an onsite fitness center, discounted gym memberships, college tuition reimbursement and paid time off for volunteering, among other things.

In 2004, the company was forced to lay off half of its employees and closed its historic Chicago factory to outsource manufacturing to China. In the years since, however, the company has flourished, and it is consistently named among the best places to work.

To compile the lists of the best small and medium workplaces, Fortune surveyed more than 88,000 workers at 540 companies with25 to 999 employees.

The top five small workplaces are: 

1. Radio Flyer — Chicago
2. Square Root — Austin, Texas
3. Granite Properties — Plane, Texas
4. PPR Talent Management Group — Jacksonville Beach, Florida
5. Ruby Receptionists — Portland, Oregon

The top five medium workplaces are:

1. Intuitive Research and Technology — Huntsville, Alabama
2. Atlassian — San Francisco
3. ESL Federal Credit Union — Rochester, New York
4. 4imprint — Oshkosh, Wisconsin
5. Squarespace — New York

Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Story Behind Starbuck's 'Beast Mode' Frappuccino]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 12:27:35 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Beast_Mode_Frappuccino_%289%29.jpg

What happens when one the biggest NFL stars pairs up with a coffee powerhouse? A drink called 'Beast Mode' is born.

At least that's what the final product was when Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch teamed up with Starbucks to launch a new Frappuccino flavor, with proceeds from the blended coffee creation benefiting inner city youth through his Fam 1st Family Foundation.

Lynch came up with the concoction by trying a variety of the coffee chain's flavors before mixing them together and deciding what went together best.

The 'Beast Mode' is a double mocha Frappuccino with mint, cream and protein powder, topped with whipped cream, "purple berry drizzle" and matcha green tea powder.

“I’d drink this before a workout,” Lynch said. “You could get your buff on with this.”

Beast Mode hits select Starbucks shops on Oct. 22 and will be available through the football season.

Photo Credit: Starbuck's]]>
<![CDATA[Uniqlo to Open Flagship Store in Chicago Friday]]>Fri, 23 Oct 2015 16:26:57 -0600https://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 on Friday.

The opening will include giveaways, prizes, deals and a performance, the company wrote on its website.

UNIQLO will give away tote bags to the first 1,000 people at the store as well as 100% cashmere scarves to the first 200 people in line.

Customers who make a $50+ purchase will receive a free t-shirt.

The 60,000-square-foot store is 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.

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[Toby Keith's Closes Early After Staff Steals From Restaurant]]>Fri, 16 Oct 2015 10:44:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/GettyImages-173092769.jpg

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill in Rosemont, Illinois, had until Oct. 31 before it needed to close its doors for good, according to the village's mayor, but it appears the restaurant shut down early after management accused workers of stealing memorabilia and liquor from the venue.

The restaurant's general manager, Larry Vanni, told the Daily Herald that once reports came out that the venue would soon close he had a meeting with his staff, asking them to remain professional. But, he said, "some of them took it to the extreme" and "a few bad eggs ruined it for everybody."

Up to 50 staff members will lose their jobs with the closing of the once popular restaurant, but Vanni reportedly claimed about six or seven workers stole items from the bar Wednesday night, including autographed Toby Keith memorabilia and raided the bar's alcohol supply.

Vanni told the publication the only reason the venue decided to close was because management "couldn't trust staff to show up and do their jobs professionally."

Rosemont officials announced Thursday that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill would close on Oct. 31. 

Village of Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens noted, however, that the doors were locked at the restaurant Thursday and the restaurant was not open during the afternoon. 

Village officials said Wednesday they plan to replace Toby Keith’s with a project from Joe’s Bar on Weed Street and Lettuce Entertain You’s Bub City, the Daily Herald reported.

The joint venture between Joe’s Bar and Bub City, both of which are country-themed bars and restaurants in Chicago, could open in the spring.

The village board on Wednesday approved a lease with Rosemont Ventures LLC, the Bub City and Joe’s Bar project, according to the publication.

An eviction hearing for Toby Keith's was scheduled for Thursday. 

Reports that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill could be forced out of Rosemont first surfaced in August after an eviction suit was filed from the village of Rosemont, saying the restaurant owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and rent.

General manager Larry Vanni responded to the suit and the reports shortly after, saying everything the bar and restaurant owed was paid and the company wanted to stay in Rosemont.

Vanni later told the Daily Herald, a check he received from the company’s corporate offices came from a closed account and Boomtown Entertainment CEO Frank Capri said Wednesday he plans to seek new legal counsel to explore the company’s options in Rosemont.

Boomtown Entertainment did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.  

<![CDATA[Toby Keith's Bar in Rosemont Will Soon Close]]>Thu, 15 Oct 2015 15:18:09 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP483260167176.jpg

Toby Keith’s will soon leave Rosemont, and another country-inspired venue could take its place.

Rosemont officials announced Thursday that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill will close on Oct. 31. 

Village of Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens said the doors were locked at the restaurant and the restaurant was not open Thursday. 

Village officials said Wednesday they plan to replace Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill with a project from Joe’s Bar on Weed Street and Lettuce Entertain You’s Bub City, the Daily Herald reports.

The joint venture between Joe’s Bar and Bub City, both of which are country-themed bars and restaurants in Chicago, could open in the spring.

The village board on Wednesday approved a lease with Rosemont Ventures LLC, the Bub City and Joe’s Bar project, the Daily Herald reported.

An eviction hearing for Toby Keith's was reportedly scheduled for Thursday. 

Reports that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill could be forced out of Rosemont first surfaced in August after an eviction suit was filed from the village of Rosemont, saying the restaurant owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and rent.

General manager Larry Vanni responded to the suit and the reports shortly after, saying everything the bar and restaurant owed was paid and the company wanted to stay in Rosemont.

Vanni later told the Daily Herald, a check he received from the company’s corporate offices came from a closed account and Boomtown Entertainment CEO Frank Capri said Wednesday he plans to seek new legal counsel to explore the company’s options in Rosemont.

Boomtown Entertainment did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tribune Tower is For Sale: Report]]>Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:23:27 -0600https://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[Take a Sneak Peek at the New Boozy Target in Streeterville]]>Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:04:30 -0600https://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 11:02:56 -0600https://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 16:44:33 -0600https://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 15:50:46 -0600https://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 13:21:12 -0600https://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 05:50:15 -0600https://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 16:10:24 -0600https://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 13:13:21 -0600https://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 11:02:05 -0600https://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 10:36:18 -0600https://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 17:03:47 -0600https://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 17:07:35 -0600https://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 14:18:16 -0600https://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 20:13:13 -0600https://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 12:14:34 -0600https://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 08:23:50 -0600https://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 15:43:15 -0600https://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 11:24:43 -0600https://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 09:08:48 -0600https://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 17:37:44 -0600https://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 13:46:59 -0600https://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 06:41:40 -0600https://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 14:29:57 -0600https://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 12:51:41 -0600https://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 10:15:26 -0600https://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 18:41:48 -0600https://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 07:54:53 -0600https://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 04:35:28 -0600https://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 18:57:59 -0600https://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 08:58:21 -0600https://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 09:33:45 -0600https://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 05:11:42 -0600https://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 11:05:53 -0600https://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 05:08:23 -0600https://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 16:04:22 -0600https://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 03:30:53 -0600https://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 10:43:10 -0600https://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 18:53:41 -0600https://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 09:48:04 -0600https://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 14:25:25 -0600https://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 06:17:40 -0600https://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 11:15:56 -0600https://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 12:05:25 -0600https://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 10:20:33 -0600https://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 10:03:13 -0600https://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 12:02:16 -0600https://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 11:53:57 -0600https://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 09:11:21 -0600https://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 07:18:50 -0600https://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 20:18:08 -0600https://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 09:20:49 -0600https://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 05:18:23 -0600https://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 22:37:28 -0600https://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 12:08:29 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/87552094.jpgDo 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 20:51:25 -0600https://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 17:58:34 -0600https://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 12:28:56 -0600https://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 06:39:30 -0600https://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 07:14:38 -0600https://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 14:51:33 -0600https://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 18:51:38 -0600https://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 22:29:33 -0600https://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 12:14:51 -0600https://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 09:53:46 -0600https://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 16:48:42 -0600https://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 06:15:03 -0600https://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 08:48:18 -0600https://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 09:29:51 -0600https://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
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<![CDATA[Website Problems Prompt Southwest to Extend Fare Sale]]>Fri, 05 Jun 2015 05:18:43 -0600https://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 21:36:31 -0600https://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 14:06:48 -0600https://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 06:06:33 -0600https://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
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<![CDATA[United Apologizes to Muslim Woman for Soda Can Incident]]>Wed, 03 Jun 2015 19:53:25 -0600https://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 14:48:31 -0600https://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 09:09:10 -0600https://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 08:09:49 -0600https://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 10:09:33 -0600https://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 11:23:38 -0600https://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 10:41:41 -0600https://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 11:23:24 -0600https://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 19:06:21 -0600https://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 18:24:09 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012510701_1200x675_448990787812.jpgPennsylvania 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 10:35:48 -0600https://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 19:56:13 -0600https://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 12:05:11 -0600https://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 15:04:22 -0600https://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 16:45:40 -0600https://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 16:43:26 -0600https://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 12:01:02 -0600https://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 12:42:26 -0600https://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 13:54:39 -0600https://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 10:21:47 -0600https://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 17:42:35 -0600https://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 01:55:52 -0600https://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 15:54:18 -0600https://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 18:52:35 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-xfinity-store-1.jpgThe 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 13:52:47 -0600https://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]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Faces Backer Backlash]]>Mon, 04 May 2015 13:42:43 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CST-01.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Chicago Standard Timing]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Reveals Turnaround Plan]]>Mon, 04 May 2015 09:58:59 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/4707047541.jpg

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook says he's stripping away layers of bureaucracy so the company can move faster to keep up with changing tastes.

During a 23-minute video message posted online Monday, Easterbrook said the company's structure is too cumbersome.

Easterbrook took charge of the world's biggest hamburger chain on March 1.

McDonald's is restructuring its units into four groups: the flagship U.S. market, international lead markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom, high-growth markets such as China and Russia, and the rest of the world.

Easterbrook also repeatedly stressed that the company will focus more on listening to customers, simplifying restaurant operations and improving perceptions of its food.

The company will also accelerate plans to sell company-owned restaurants to franchisees.

McDonald's is fighting intensifying competition from a variety of players and has admitted that it failed to keep up with changing tastes. In its flagship U.S. market, executives said the menu got too complicated and gummed up operations. Customer visits at established locations declined for two straight years.

Already, McDonald's has tried a number of moves to inject some life back into its brand.

Back in December, it said it would start trimming its menu to simplify operations and make room for new offerings. The nips and tucks in the past couple months targeted minor sandwich variations. More recently, the company revamped its grilled chicken recipe and said it would curb the use of antibiotics.

The company also said last month that it would double its planned restaurant closures this year to roughly 700. It hasn't yet revealed its updated plans on overall restaurant count growth. At the end of last year, McDonald's Corp. had more than 36,200 locations around the world.

Easterbrook, who previously headed up the U.K. business, says he wants to turn McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sale Fail: Consumer Group Alleges Deceptive Pricing]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 14:45:55 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/shopping+sale.jpg

For hardcore shoppers, there may be no bigger buzz than the deep discount. But a new report out this week by Checkbook.org suggested some special prices at major retailers aren’t so special and alleged a pattern of deceptive pricing tactics at three national chains.

"They’re marking their merchandise with these steep discounts -- 30, 40 percent off," Checkbook.org Executive Editor Kevin Brasler told NBC Chicago. "[They're] making their shoppers think that, 'Oh, this is on sale. There’s some urgency here. I better buy this today.'"

But how special are those special prices? Checkbook.org took on the question by using mystery shoppers in stores and online to track prices on specific products each week for 44 consecutive weeks. What they say found is that in many cases the sale prices were the normal prices.

"If it's always on sale, if your special price isn't special, if that's the price you always charge, then I think you are deceiving your customers," Brasler said.

Checkbook.org accused three major retailers -- Sears, Macy’s and Kohls -- of consistently posting "special" prices and discounts that rarely, or never, revert back to a higher price.

Federal Trade Commission regulations, as well as some state laws, prohibit pricing policies that lure consumers into thinking they are getting a good deal when they are not. Both Sears and Macy’s denied using deceptive pricing practices.

"Sears disagrees with any suggestion that its pricing is misleading or deceptive," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "Sears is focused on providing its members with great prices on a wide variety of products and services," adding that it "complies with applicable pricing and advertising laws." 

"... as a multi-channel, leading integrated retailer we are uniquely positioned to provide discounts to our members and customers in a number of different, legally compliant ways, including things like member pricing, store or online only promotions, clearance offers, and offers from third-party marketplace sellers," the statement said. "It is unfortunate that Checkbook.org did not appear to take these factors into account before making its assumptions."

Macy's, in a statement, said pricing varies for each item, "based on the nature and seasonality of the merchandise, its family of business and customer response, among other things. Some items rarely go on sale prior to final clearance; others go on sale more frequently as part of promotional events."

The company said it strives to comply with all laws and regulations, "which generally allow for flexibility in connection with price promotions to allow retailers to respond to business trends. If a pricing error is brought to our attention, we act quickly to correct it."

Kohl's did not respond to a request for comment.

<![CDATA["Vertiport" Aims to Fill Air Service Void]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:59:36 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vertiport-chicago.jpg

Owners of a new helicopter airport on Chicago's West Side hope high-profile corporate clients will use it for a quick commute downtown from the city's airports.

The $11 million Vertiport Chicago sits on land that was once contaminated with arsenic and asbestos. An hourly rate tops $3,000 to rent a deluxe helicopter with two pilots.

"We are not going to be the cheapest place to hangar a helicopter, but we strongly believe the demand is out there," Vertiport President Mike Conklin said.

Investors of the heliport see it as filling a void in downtown air service since Meigs Field airport was demolished by the city in 2003. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered the destruction of its single runway in a midnight raid, without getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Conklin said helicopters from police, fire and emergency medical services will have priority use of the Vertiport, and won't pay landing fees. Officials said it's also being used by a DHL Express helicopter, and space has been reserved for a helicopter sightseeing business.

Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University, said upfront costs mean the heliport needs to find success early.

"Chicago has turned its back on the downtown helicopter business since the closure of Meigs Field, so there is strong pent-up demand," Schwieterman said.

It'll be hard to predict, Schwieterman said, if executives see arriving at the heliport as the same as being downtown. The site is located in the Illinois Medical District and is about 2 miles west of the Loop.

"Most are unfamiliar with the area," he said.

Vertiport Chicago, in an agreement with the medical district, will pay 5 percent of net revenues to the district as well as monthly rent.

Heather Tarczan, spokeswoman for the Illinois Medical District Commission, said rent was $43,500 for the first 12 months. She said a 52-year lease began in 2011, with payments beginning in late 2012. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[What Fonts You Should Use on Your Resume]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 10:10:14 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012190919_1200x675_436963907904.jpgNew study reveals the fonts you should and shouldn't use on your resume. ]]><![CDATA[Amazon Warehouse to Open in Goose Island]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 09:23:23 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/amazon+warehouse.jpg

Amazon users in Chicago can soon expect faster delivery service as the company announced the opening of its first Chicago warehouse in Goose Island.

The online retailer already has a large new complex in Kenosha, Wis., and there are plans to build an even larger distribution center in suburban Joliet, according to Crain's Chicago Business, who first reported the story.

The new warehouse in Goose Island does not have a set opening date, but Amazon signed a lease for a 51,970-square-foot space at 1111 North Cherry Avenue, Crain's reports. The Goose Island facility could be the first several small distribution centers within the city to help deliver products faster and more efficiently.

The Goose Island deal was announced about six months after Amazon pledged to add 1,000 jobs in Illinois by 2017 with the addition of several new facilities.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Popular German Restaurant to Close in Chicago]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 05:48:25 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/236*120/mirabell.jpg

A popular German restaurant on Chicago’s Northwest Side has announced it will close after 38 years.

Mirabell, a staple in the city’s Irving Park neighborhood, will close Sunday, the family who owns the restaurant announced.

“It is with mixture of sorrow and joy, that we announce the closing of the Mirabell,” owners Jeff and Anita Heil posed on Facebook. “We enjoyed having you and your family and friends, as our guests, at the Mirabell and we thank you and are very grateful for your business over the years. We just know that Chef Werner, our father/husband, is looking down from Heaven and is so very grateful and thankful too, for your continued support over the past 38 years.”

The eatery is the latest in a string of German restaurant closings in Chicago, following others like the Golden Ox and Zum Deutschen Eck.

“It has been a real pleasure serving our customers for the past 38 years,” Jeff Heil said in a statement.

The restaurant encouraged customers to join them for their final day of business Sunday, which will the last chance for customers to “raise a beer stein and yell ‘Zicke Zacke, Zicke Zacke, Hoy, Hoy, Hoy, Prost.’”  

Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Brazilian Steakhouse Closes]]>Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:38:36 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brazzazz.jpg

A popular Brazilian steakhouse in River North closed abruptly Tuesday following charges that the owners did not fairly pay their employees.

The U.S. Department of Labor brought charges against Brazzaz Brazilian Steakhouse after complaints that some of the restaurant's employees were paid less than minimum wage and were not paid for overtime work, according to Crain's Chicago Business, who first reported the story.

The Labor Department alleged that employees were paid less than $2.13 an hour, which is the minimum wage for tipped employees after deductions for uniforms. The department also charged the restaurant for failing to pay their workers for overtime work.

As of Wednesday, the restaurant's website was no longer functioning, and the owners could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Amazing Landmark Club Now Open to All Chicagoans]]>Fri, 26 Feb 2016 19:17:37 -0600https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000016648828_1200x675_632328259666.jpgGeneral Manager Patrick Hatton takes us on a brief historical tour of the Chicago Athletic Association (built as a private club in the 1890's) and its amazing event spaces. An architectural landmark on Michigan Avenue, the completely renovated CAA Hotel has been delighting visitors and locals with incredible food and drink at the Cherry Circle Room, Game Room (with free billiards & bocce), and Cindy’s bar upstairs. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s very first year open to the public has been an impressive one. Cheers!]]>