Don’t leave home without it, the best back to school buys

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Fall is upon us, which means a fresh start on the schoolyear and brand new items to purchase. Be prepared for back-to-school with these useful for parents and fun for kids trends!  

Home Sweet Locker

Decorating lockers has always been a way to showcase personality while at school, but options have been upgraded since the days of magnets and magazine clips. Target has options such as magnetic succulent plants, magnetic and battery-powered “chandeliers,” and removable wallpaper. Specifically, check out UBrand at Target, which has all the previous options, plus more, like a disco ball!

Fashion is Clear

A trend for all ages, that’s also helpful for parents. A clear plastic raincoat is cheap, easy to clean, and also fashionable for a kid of any age. Currently, there’s one available at Walmart online for $10. Clear backpacks are also cool, and won’t require parents to ask if their kid forgot anything on their way out—it’s easy to see inside!

A Bento-Style Lunch

Bento Boxes are no longer just for mom or dad’s sushi lunch. The omieBox, available on Amazon, has spaces for both cold and hot foods. It comes with different inserts, depending on what’s for lunch that day, and can include cutlery. Everything in the box can be put in the dishwasher, to make daily cleanup easy. There are simpler versions, like the stainless steel LunchBots containers on Amazon.

Eraser Fun

Put a smile on their face with fun erasers in all sorts of shapes. Yoobi’s fast food eraser set, available at Urban Outfitters, includes a mini hamburger, hotdog, French fry, and sandwich all for erasing. Acbell’s erasers are in the shape of macaron cookies and brightly colored. Handy Basic’s erasers are ice cream treats. Both are available on Amazon.  

At the draw of a window blind, BCBS gets the word out

(Published July 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

When Blue Cross Blue Shield wants to send a message, they don’t buy a billboard or send out emails—they light up the night sky along the building’s south-facing tower in letters that stretch several stories.

Blue Cross Blue Shield recently honored nurses with a We Love Nurses display. Recently the company honored the United States with a patriotic Fourth of July message in red, white and blue and prior to that they celebrated Pride month in June. 

The lettering is familiar to New Eastsiders, but the story behind the lights may not be.

BCBS spokesperson Colleen Miller said it’s not a high-tech operation.

“It’s just our internal lights that are left on [and] the blinds are left open to show messages,” she said. “It’s very low tech. It’s literally people going and opening blinds.”

In all, it takes a team of five people to control the window coverings based on a design created in an Excel program. It’s an approach that hasn’t changed much since the tradition began 20 years ago. 

The tradition dates to November 1999 when Bears great Walter Payton died. To honor him, Blue Cross Blue Shield displayed a memorial along the south tower. Blue Cross Blue Shield employee Chris Gillott had the idea to write 34, Payton’s jersey number, along the south tower to honor the football star. From there, a tradition was born.

Miller said the company has used the wall to promote public health.

“We look at it as an asset,” she said, “to send a message to promote community health.”

Other community groups can request a message, though Miller said there are guidelines on what Blue Cross Blue Shield will promote.

“We vet the requests so they’re aligned with our messages,” Miller said. “We don’t do personal messages. It’s not for personal billboarding or that sort of thing.”

When Gillott died in 2013, the company offered “Thanks, Chris” as a farewell to the man who started the New Eastside tradition.

Although the side of the building isn’t visible to many people, Miller said the company will post pictures of the messages to social media and some of those go viral.

“Talk about low tech, high impact,” she said.

Sports messages are among the most shared. Miller said popular posts were when the Cubs and Blackhawks won championships.

“We get great feedback,” she said. “It’s really about civic pride.”

Primark fashion to open first Midwest store in Chicago

(Published July 5, 2019)

Primark to bring its “Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices” to the Midwest for the first time

Primark, the international retailer that offers “Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices,” in July announced it will open its first store in the Midwest in Chicago. Primark has signed a lease with The Georgetown Company for 35 N. State St., Chicago, the largest lease on State Street since 2014. 

The company has not announced an opening date yet. The location is a former GAP store. 

Primark will take over the entire 45,000-square-foot building and will trade from 36,200 square feet of retail space over three levels. Before an opening date is announced the iconic property is undergoing a complete renovation tailored to fit Primark’s specific needs, including modernization of the exterior and complete interior remodeling. 

Located at the intersection of State and Washington Streets, 35 N. State St. sits in the heart of the Loop. Home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, entertainment options, cultural institutions and world- famous landmarks, the immediate neighborhood has long been known as one of the top shopping destinations in the United States.

“Primark has been searching for a Midwest location as part of the company’s continued expansion into the United States,” said Tom Meager, Property Director for Primark. “We are fortunate to have found and secured such an impressive location in the heart of the vibrant Chicago market.”

“We recognized an amazing opportunity with the State Street corridor as one of the most sought after retail destinations in the country,” said Adam Flatto from Georgetown. “As one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States, Primark is a perfect fit for the building and will be a welcome addition to a popular list of neighboring businesses in the Loop.” 

Founded in 1969, Primark is a leading fashion retailer headquartered in Ireland. Primark offers a diverse range of the latest trends in women’s, men’s and children’s wear, homeware, accessories, beauty products and more at affordable prices.

Rentable electric scooters come to city’s west side

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon

Electric scooters arrived in Chicago June 15 as part of a pilot program that will run through Oct. 15. After the trial period, the city intends to assess feedback before making decisions regarding the program. 

The scooters are provided from 10 different companies including Lyft and Uber and number in the thousands. The shared scooters are limited to a 50-square mile-test area on the west side, which omits the downtown area including the Loop and Lakefront Path because there are already many transportation options there. 

“Scooters are an environmentally friendly alternative to car travel that can provide increased transportation access for residents throughout the city,” said Isaac Reichman, Policy Analyst for the City of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). “Those wary of the plan should understand that this is a short-term, limited pilot designed to test scooters as a viable transportation option. We welcome feedback from all residents.”

Things to know about the new shared electric scooters:

  • Scooters are limited to 15 mph
  • They cannot  not be ridden on the sidewalks
  • They operate from 5 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • They must be removed from the public way by the vendors
  • The cost is typically $1 to unlock the scooters  and .15 cents per mile
  • Helmets may be provided by some vendors but are not required. Users are advised to bring their own helmets
  • Scooters will slow and shut down if riders attempt to ride outside the designated boundaries

Concerns include safety, congestion and scooters left haphazardly on the streets. 

“Users should ride scooters in the same manner as they would a bike. This means avoiding the sidewalk and sticking to the bike lanes,” Reichman said. “We will be monitoring utilization and sidewalk clutter closely to understand the impact of this mobility option.” 

“I think it’s fantastic.” said Chicago resident Mike Hayes, who recently checked out the electric scooters in the West Loop. “It’s a great way to move around the city if you aren’t going far.”

“I’ve been hearing a lot of good things and want to try it out,” added resident Jeremy Hayes. “It’s a fast ride, and you can just use the Uber app.” 

For New Eastside and downtown residents concerned about the possibility of electric scooters coming to the Lakefront, Reichman adds, “Any decision about the future of scooters in Chicago will wait until after the pilot is completed. We will be evaluating the performance of the companies and the impact of the scooters on residents and users before making any decisions on what will come next.”

Build a Bear Workshop offers a “pay your age” promotion

(Published June 12, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Build a Bear Workshop, a popular retailer that allows customers to design their own teddy bears, is offering a limited time “pay your age” promotion.

The chain has a retail outlet at the Navy Pier and through June 16, customers can enter to win a birthday party and a new bear.

“More than 200,000 Guests around the world are expected to receive a Pay Your Age limited ticket,” the Build a Bear website says. “With their ticket, Guests will be able to visit a Build-A-Bear Workshop during one of two redemption periods in the week of June 24 through June 28 and make one furry friend per child present, limit two furry friends per ticket. Additionally, ten Guests will win the Count Your Candles Sweepstakes grand prize of a birthday party experience to use any time in the next twelve months valued up to $250.”

Customers must be Bonus Club members (it’s free to join) and anyone can sign up online at buildabear.com.

Kaliflower restaurant launches on Michigan Ave.

(Published May 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Next month New Eastsiders will see a new restaurant in Kaliflower, a fast-casual spot that offers healthy options packed with flavor.

Owner Ben Arnstein said his 333 N. Michigan Ave. restaurant is a passion project for him and his fiancee. Arnstein, a former management consultant, travelled a lot with his fiancee and, by necessity, they ate out a lot. He said, it was awful.

“We’re eating out almost every meal and we’re travelling a ton and there weren’t a lot of options that were flavorful and had spices and warm options that were also healthy options,” Arnstein said.

The tired of eating salads or settling for burgers and pizza for every meal either. From that, the idea of Kaliflower was born.

The restaurant will offer bowls and salads as well as sides, like daalafel, a baked lentil dish with chickpeas, cilantro, parsley and a hint of jalapeno. It will be served with a side of cucumber and mint yogurt.

The bowls are equally flavor-packed. One of the offerings is the path to enlightenment bowl, which includes daalafel, roasted carrots, marinated lentils, cucumber and red pepper salad, marinated kale, creamy avocado yogurt, finished with chopped cilantro and lemon garlic vinaigrette dressing.

The bowls and salads are $11.50 and all of it, Arnstein said, will be fast and ready to go for area residents and professionals.

“It is fast casual, so there will be almost no seating,” he said. “It is designed to take away. We’re really focusing on quality food and a good value price point.”

Arnstein said he designed the menu himself with a chef advisor, and the selections combine flavors he and his fiancee are familiar with.

“My fiancee is first generation Indian on her mom’s side,” he said. “The spice road type flavors are something I grew up eating.”

Arnstein said Kaliflower is still under construction and he doesn’t have an opening date yet but is hoping to launch in mid-to-late June.

Kraft Heinz appoints new CEO

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer|May 1, 2019

The Kraft Heinz Company in April announced that the company’s board of directors has appointed Miguel Patricio as Chief Executive Officer effective July 1. Patricio will succeed Bernardo Hees, who will remain CEO through June 30, to ensure a seamless transition.

“Miguel is a proven business leader with a distinguished track record of building iconic consumer brands around the globe, driving top-line revenue growth through a focus on consumer-first marketing, innovation, and people development,” said Alex Behring, chairman of Kraft Heinz’s board of directors, in a press release.

Patricio is an Anheuser-Busch InBev executive with two decades of experience there and a native of Portugal. Hees has been with the company for six years, though over the last 12 months, Kraft Heinz stock, which closed at a record low of $31.87 on March 14, has tumbled 43 percent after a failed buy of Unilever.

Learning to cook; kids can hone their culinary skills at Sur La Table

(Published March 31)

By Angela Gagnon – Staff Writer

Kids can get busy in the kitchen at Sur La Table and experience some hands-on cooking fun this summer and learn to make delicious classic summer eats from scratch.

Sur La Table, located at 900 North Michigan Ave., offers three- and five-day cooking classes for kids 8-12 and teens 13-17. The classes start in July, last about two hours each and are limited to 16 students.

“All of our classes are taught by classically trained culinary professionals,” said Adam Leach, resident chef at Sur La Table.

Sur La Table will offer two camps this summer. One incorporates different themes each day like backyard BBQ or pizza parties and will include about four different recipes per day. The other camp will focus on teaching different techniques, like working with pasta and pizza dough, learning knife skills or grilling or BBQ techniques.

“There will also be a bakery and pastry component this year, which will take place one day as an all encompassing experience in the five day camp,” added Leach.

Kids get to eat what they make and even compete in a friendly mystery box competition at the end of each series similar to the TV show, Chopped wherein chefs must create a meal with a box of mystery ingredients.  

“Teams get a menu together, curated through the instructor, but created by the kids. They use what skills they’ve learned the previous days to put it all together for a final menu,” said Leach.

The chef picks a mystery ingredient to be used somewhere in the menu, and kids are encouraged to use a kitchen gadget they haven’t used before. “The winning team gets a prize,” said Leach.

“I look at my job here as inspiring people to cook more at home and build confidence in the kitchen,” said Leach. “I like people to leave the class wanting to cook more!”
In addition to gaining culinary skills, kids will take home a packet of recipes and a Sur La Table apron. Register for the classes at surlatable.com.

Area businesses lend a hand to help Girls Scouts sell cookies

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Girl Scouts are busy selling their famous cookies all over downtown Chicago while partnering with local businesses that provide warm spaces where scouts can sell extra boxes through the end of March.

Troop 20461, from South Loop Elementary, recently sold cookies at Pinstripes in Streeterville on a blustery Saturday morning. Troop co-leader Angelica Prado helped set up, and fourth grade troop members Mia Prado and Katie Boone sold to Pinstripes customers.

“My favorite part of selling Girl Scout cookies is asking people to buy our cookies,” Mia said. “Even if they say no, they know who we are and they can tell more people about the cookies.”

“I like selling Girl Scout cookies because it teaches me to set a goal and try to complete that goal,” Katie added.

“The girls decide on a cookie goal and work to reach that goal,” Katie’s mom and troop co-leader Aimee Boone, said. Troop 20461 set their goal for each girl to sell 100 boxes of cookies.

At the end of cookie season, the troop can decide what to do with their share of the profits, which is about 90 cents per box.

A portion goes to a charitable donation of the troop’s choice. Troop 20461 will be donating to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls this year. They also vote on something fun to do as a troop, as a reward for all the hard work they do during cookie sales.

Girl Scouts will set up booths at select locations until the end of March. Troop 20461 will be back at Pinstripes, 435 E Illinois St., March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On March 2, they will be selling cookies at Sod Room, 1454 S Michigan Ave., from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Inviting them to sell at Sod Room helps shift the ownership back to the child,” Sod Room owner Cynthia Valenciana said. “That’s hard in today’s climate, and there’s so much power in that.”

For a list of cookie booth locations, dates and times, visit the Girl Scouts’ website, girlscouts.org, and use the “cookie finder” to locate nearby booths.

New Eastside News news briefs

Staff reports

Sweetwater to be open in time for St. Patrick’s Day

Sweetwater Tavern and Grill, 225 N. Michigan Ave., a popular local eatery, will be open in time for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, according to the restaurant’s website.

The bar and grill has been closed since Dec. 23 for extensive renovations.

“It’s exciting to be able to take what we have learned from our more than 15 restaurants over the years and apply it to one of our most successful restaurants on Michigan Avenue,” Angela Zoiss, Vice President of Marketing for Bottleneck Management, said in a press release. “Sweetwater’s renovation will breathe new life into the space and kick off our 10th anniversary as a Chicago hot spot with a fresh new look.”

Bottleneck Management has added an additional 10 years to Sweetwater’s lease, for a total of 15 years in the dynamic space in the heart of Michigan Avenue.

New Eastsiders can now shop at a brick-and-mortar Amazon store

In February Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store Amazon Go at 111 E. Wacker.

The cashier-less store is the first Amazon store in the New Eastside, but it joins several other locations around the city.

Besides not having cashiers, the store is cashless, too, and customers pay by scanning items with their cellphones via an app. There are no lines and the store offers a variety of food and snack items.

New 311 app easier to use than phone system

In December the city launched a 311 app—a phone application allowing users to more easily report on small issues such as potholes and graffiti in their areas. The app upgraded the previous system, launched in 1999, that depended on a telephone call and paperwork.

Since the system launched, it’s garnered national attention, with Wired Magazine calling it “a huge win for public works.”

Closer to home, the system is also receiving praise. Neighborhood leader Richard Ward said in February the new system is helpful, easy to use and provides added benefits to New Eastside residents.

“The home page of the website has an overview of the program and nine broad categories of service request areas such as seniors, health and animals. ‘View-all’ presents nearly one hundred specific issue topics like graffiti, lights out and potholes,” he wrote in an email.

Ward said the New Eastside is nearly graffiti-free because of eagle-eyed residents calling the previous system. Now, residents can use the new app to report graffiti or other maintenance issues.

To find out more about the app or download, visit 311.chicago.gov.

Ad seems to indicate a new residential building is coming

A magazine advertisement by CA Ventures could indicate a new, large residential building is coming to the New Eastside.

In January, Real Estate Alert, a real estate trade magazine, ran an ad from developers CA Ventures featuring a large building at Lake and Stetson, the 40,600-square-foot lot that was supposed to be the home of the Mandarin Oriental hotel and luxury condominiums before that plan failed two years ago.

However, CA Ventures won’t say what the ad means and whether they will develop the property.

“We don’t have anything to share at this time,” said Mimi Simon, a spokesperson for CA Ventures with Taylor Johnson Public Relations.

The ad includes other existing properties developed by CA Ventures around the country.

New WTTW11 program to highlight Midwest history

Take a nostalgic family road trip throughout the Midwest when “Chicago on Vacation with Geoffrey Baer” premieres on WTTW11, Chicago’s PBS station, and online at wttw.com/vacation at 7:30 p.m. on March 5.

Inspired by his family adventures, Baer sets out in a 1973 Chevrolet Impala station wagon (the same car his family drove) to visit favorite tourist destinations and discover hidden history throughout the Midwest. Stunning archival film and home movies take viewers back to a time when road trips were routine for families looking for an affordable, drivable getaway.

Highlights of Geoffrey’s 2,000-mile road trip include:

  • Touring Lake Geneva with two teenagers that deliver mail by jumping off a moving boat
  • Meeting an all-female ice-fishing group from Wisconsin’s Northwoods
  • Discovering a renewed interest in the “Black Eden” of Idlewild, Mich., a popular spot for African Americans when segregation during the Jim Crow era limited vacation options
  • Visiting the once-booming Jewish resorts in South Haven, Mich., previously called the “Catskills of the Midwest”

Local news drives newspaper readership, study finds

A large study by Medill’s Local News Initiative discovered in February that local news still matters to readers and it may save newspapers.

The study analyzed subscriber data from three metropolitan news websites in an attempt to see what content most attracted readers. The intention is to provide newspapers with a guide to improving community service and to shore up financial sustainability as the media landscape changes.

The study showed that rather than viral stories, readers want quality local content.

“This research illustrates a sea change in the relationship between local news organizations and their readers,” Tim Franklin said in a news release.

Franklin, a senior associate dean at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, heads the Medill Local News Initiative, a project that includes this study and other research to help local journalism overcome the industry’s loss of readers and revenue. Medill partnered with three news organizations — the Chicago Tribune, The Indianapolis Star and the San Francisco Chronicle — that provided 13 terabytes of anonymous reader data for the study.

1 2 3 4