Field Museum unwraps history of mummies

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

The Field Museum is, quite literally, unwrapping history with its new exhibit—Mummies.

The museum’s latest special exhibit is digging into the history of ancient Egypt and Peru by bringing visitors back thousands of years as they tour an immersive and interactive display of mummies, ancient human remains and amulets, totems and gifts given to the mummified dead.

Visitors start the Mummies experience by catching a glimpse of human remains, once mummified, that were unwrapped for scientific study. This startling sight may not be for the faint of heart, but offers a peek inside the mummy wraps and coffins seen throughout the rest of the exhibit. Moving forward, guests learn about new technologies that allow scientists and curators to keep mummified remains in tact while learning about the lives and deaths of the individuals wrapped inside.

By using CT scans and 3D imaging to study mummies, scientists can explore remains non-invasively. “Before, you would have to unwrap the mummy, or even cut it open, to learn more about it. Now we can use non-destructive methods to learn so much more about
the past,” explained exhibit curator Bill Parkinson. “This exhibition allows visitors to see how we use modern technologies to learn about the lives of ancient peoples and cultures.” 

While most of us have some knowledge of mummification in Egypt, the exhibit also digs into how the practice started in Peru. Peruvians had perfected mummification years before it began in Egypt, and continued for years after Roman influence halted the tradition for Egyptians.

Exhibit curator Ryan Williams added that the Peruvian mummies in the exhibit predate the Egyptian ones. “One of the unique things about this exhibition is the inclusion of the Peruvian mummification traditions, which started much earlier than in Egypt and lasted until the Spanish conquest 500 years ago,” he said. “That 7,000- year history of Andean mummification is something most people have never heard of previously.”

Artifacts on display include two-and-a-half-foot tall Peruvian beer jars—once shown at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair—and masks made by the Chinchorro people
of Peru which covered the faces of the wrapped remains.

Egyptian mummies of different animals, including cats, chimpanzees and baby croodiles can be seen on display and explored through a series of x-ray images.

Recreation of a Peruvian tomb. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

Life-size displays show what a Peruvian tomb looked like—an underground room with mummified family members propped up like living people. The mummies were wrapped in clothes and wore masks with faces painted on them, and were surrounded by items like jugs, drinks and food. Egyptian hieroglyphics show messages that translate to requests like, “When I’m dead, bring me beer.”

The exhibition, created by the Field Museum, opened on March 16 and will
be available to visitors with the purchase of a Discovery or All-Access pass until
April 2019.

Published on May 2.

Drunken Bean soft opening, grand opening coming soon

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

The Drunken Bean coffee and wine bar, formerly Lakeshore East Coffee, 400 E. South Water St. opened this week with a new menu. Owner Nick Papageorgiou opted to use the slower season in Lakeshore East as the time for a soft open for the newly remodeled space. Papageorgiou said, “for now we want to feature a limited menu and work out the kinks with the new staff [and] kitchen.” 

[The mural on the wall at The Drunken Bean a recently renovated coffee and wine bar, 400 E. South Water St. Photo by Nicole VandeBoom]

Dark colors, cozy seating, and industrial touches adorn the newly remodeled space, where the coffee counter is now a bar and a wine cooler is visible at eye level. Sofas, rocking chairs are paired with small wood side tables. The walls are a mixture of textured patterns, black paint and bricks with a painted mural.

“This is so cool,” said Jackson VandeBoom, 340 On the Park resident and young gelato aficionado when he opened the front door. When asked what he liked the best about the remodel VandeBoom said he liked the big, comfortable new chairs.

[The interior of the newly opened Drunken Bean coffee and wine bar. Photo by Nicole VandeBoom]

Papageorgiou said construction crews were still hard at work until 6a.m. the morning of the re-opening. Some of the finishing touches Papageorgiou is waiting on include rugs, completion of the mural, and some electrical work in the kitchen. When the weather improves, residents can expect a vestibule by the front doors to be installed.

The Drunken Bean’s wine list will range from $6-$12 per glass. For patrons wishing to sip on pricier reserves, those are in stock too.

In addition to wine and spirits, Papageorgiou has enlisted a chef and kitchen staff to create small plate meals serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner items throughout the day. Breakfast and lunch revolve around creative sandwiches and salads. Customers can choose from smaller plate options for dinner, like hummus and charcuterie boards, along with pastries and a gelato bar for dessert.

Current hours of operation are 6 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekdays. Papageorgiou remains undecided about the weekend closing hours as of now, he said the bar might be open until 11 p.m. The Drunken Bean will have a grand opening event sometime in the near future, but the date is yet to be determined.

Chicago Tribune to call New Eastside home in 2018

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

“It’s official: we’re moving” read a tweet from the newspaper’s Twitter account last

Prudential One, 130 E. Randolph St. will be
the new home of the Chicago Tribune. Photo
by Stephanie Racine.

November. The media giant will relocate from its home at its namesake Tribune Tower to the Prudential Plaza office complex in New Eastside. The Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue opened its doors on July 6, 1925 and housed the newspaper for 93 years.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, the paper’s parent company Tronc, Inc. will lease over 137,000 square feet on the second, third, fourth, 40th and 41st floors of the 41-story building at 130 E. Randolph St., which overlooks Millennium Park. According to the report, the lease includes a Chicago Tribune sign that will be added to the exterior of the building.

Google pop-up shop gives out free donuts and Google Home mini

By Taylor Hartz

November 21, 2017

When it came time for Google to launch their new pocket sized personal assistant – Google Home Mini – they drew inspiration from the shape of the little round robot that resembles a donut. In a nationwide tour, the tech company decided to pair the release of their new product with local donut shops, stopping in Chicago to team up with local favorite, Stan’s.

Google’s pop-up donut shop 439 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Greg Macek.

Google’s mobile donut store set up shop in Chicago for one weekend on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, giving Google guests a chance to check out the new home helper, and maybe even take one home. The shop was located at 439 N. Michigan Ave., with lines filling the sidewalk with eager guests who waited hours to check out the new product. Everyone who came out to the pop-up had a chance to play a game with the robotic assistant, that would land them with either some free donuts, or a free Google Home Mini. 

“What better way to show off our newest (and roundest) product than pairing it with free donuts?” said Google representative Charlotte Smith.

Greg Macek, a resident of Villa Park, Ill., was one of the luckier winners. Macek took home a free Google Home Mini, his second Google Home assistant.

Macek, who came into the city for the pop-up after hearing about it on a Google blog, waited an hour and a half to get in. “Worst case, I would have still won two free donuts for just standing in line,” joked Macek.

But the lucky winner instead left with a new device, that he said has already proved quite handy around his home.  “It’s been a nice addition to the house,” said Macek, “I can ask Google questions from my living room and bedroom now, control music or Netflix, and more, I’m definitely enjoying it.”

Google home mini won by Greg Macek at the pop-up donut shop 439 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Greg Macek.

Smith said the new, smaller device “fits so seamlessly into your day-to-day routines, whether you use it wake you up in the morning, help you cook your favorite recipe, or use it to access your favorite podcasts and tv shows,” and that users like Macek are finding it helpful around the house.

The pop-up shop is stopping in cities across the map, but Google wanted to make sure it made it to Chicago.

We know that Chicago is a burgeoning tech hub, so we wanted to make sure that we brought our newest and best products over to our friends and neighbors in the city,” said Smith, “Also, we had a feeling that Chicagoans would appreciate a few free donuts from Stan’s.”


Chicago Tribune to call New Eastside home

November 18, 2017

The Chicago Tribune will call the New Eastside home in 2018.

“It’s official: we’re moving” read a tweet from the newspaper’s Twitter account on Nov. 17,announcing that the media giant will relocate from its home at namesake building Tribune Tower, to the Prudential Plaza office complex.

Prudential Plaza, which overlooks Millennium Park, will be the new home of the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue opened its doors on July 6, 1925, and has housed the newspaper for 93 years.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, the paper’s parent company Tronc, Inc. will lease over 137,000 square feet on the second, third, fourth, 40th and 41st floors of the 41-story building at 130 E. Randolph St., which overlooks Millennium Park. The lease includes a Chicago Tribune sign that will be added to the exterior of the building, according to the Tribune article.

The Chicago Tribune is a popular stop for tourists visiting the city, and will add one more attraction to the New Eastside.


More than just shopping at Mag Mile cell phone stores

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

By November 15, 2017

The newly opened Apple store on the Magnificent Mile has got some superhuman competition to contend with. Major cell phone companies have brought in superheroes to fight the war to win your phone contract, in the form of a life-sized Batman mannequin, flanked by his Justice League pals at the AT&T store, and the powerfully enticing aroma of popcorn being served at the T-mobile store just a short walk away. Tech stores are competing for customers with innovative displays that immerse visitors in the latest VR technology and engage the senses in interactive movie studio-like experiences.

On Michigan Avenue, phone companies have invested heavily in their flagship stores to compete for business. Apple had plenty of cash to finance its improved retail space in Chicago which opened in October. In August, the company reported over $45 billion in sales in the quarter ending on July 1, and its new location is nothing short of jaw-dropping with its sleek appearance and riverfront views.

Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail for Apple, gives a tour of the new Michigan Avenue store, 401 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

Inside the new Apple Store, 401 Michigan Ave., along spacious lanes dividing display tables dubbed “avenues”, Apple staff are on hand to showcase products. New employees called “Creative Pros” offer more in-depth demonstrations in coding, photography, music, and a variety of other areas that can help customers improve their work and productivity. Educational initiatives and seminars that are open to the community, are frequently held in the store’s forum, an open concept classroom. The store’s 250 staff members—four times the number of the old store’s staff—are dedicated to showing Apple users how to get the most out of their device.

At the Michigan Avenue AT&T store, customers are also expected to leave with the feeling that they have gained something from their visit. “We provide exclusive content customers can only find here,” said Angelique Sotelo of the store’s marketing team. “It’s a place where you can really feel like you’re part of our experience.” The experience certainly is unique—walking into the AT&T Flagship store feels much more like walking into Universal Studios than a retail shop. Visitors are greeted by life-size models of the Justice League, standing on a platform with Batman front and center. Guests can walk around the display and explore the realistic figures, checking out their costumes and weapons. Glass cases show off pieces from the upcoming Justice League film including Batman’s tactical suit worn by Ben Affleck and Wonder Woman’s signature outfit worn by Gal Gadot.

The Justice League “takeover” opened on October 27, following months of a Game of Thrones theme at the 600 N. Michigan Ave. store. Throughout the fall, hundreds of guests took their spot on the Iron Throne, posing for photos and checking out the immersive Game of Thrones experience.

Life sized Justice League models greet customers in the AT&T store, 600 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

Further into the store, a white cube sits toward the back of the store, where an associate invited customers to step inside. What lays ahead is a mind-blowing virtual reality experience. “It simulates you as one of the superheroes,” said store employee Javier Santiago, adding that the new VR experience makes the store unique. “It’s absolutely free and it’s a way that you can be as close as possible to the Justice League.”

Once you are fitted with hand controls and an over-the-eye head mask, the inside of the cube transforms into different worlds. You can find yourself in the Batcave, in the Batmobile or fighting off foreign creatures in Wonder Woman’s surreal amazonian world.

At the completion of your VR experience, an AT&T associate shows you your score, and tells you how you ranked with other customers. The Justice League takeover will stay up through the rest of the year, said Sotelo. After that, it will be another surprise. “There’s always something to look forward to,” Sotelo said.

Just down the road, the T-Mobile store welcomes guests with a wrap-around screen and interactive “Signature Sound Board.” The sound board, which takes up an entire wall, allows guests to tap on the screen to create their own audio files. Using a large-scale keypad, guests can try out different tunes and songs to find their perfect sound, and then send the file to their cell phone to be used as a ringtone.

The “Selfie Wall” also draws crowds to interact with it. Customers can use an iPad to take a photo that then pops up in front of them on the Selfie Wall. Before they know it, the photo is on their own cell phone, too. “The customer is able to take a token of their experience at the store home with them,” said sales associate Brandon Allen.

On “Selfie Saturdays” a variety of fun props are provided for the photos. Each day of the week, T-Mobile employees offer something different to their customers. On Movie Mondays, a popcorn machine pops fresh popcorn for customers to enjoy while shopping. On T-Mobile Tuesdays, customers can use the T-Mobile app to get a new freebie every week, from T-Mobile swag to coupons for local restaurants. Karaoke is every Friday at T-mobile.

Touch screens and walls lined with products at the largest Verison store in the U.S., 840 N. Mich-igan Ave. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

At the northen end of Michigan Avenue, Verizon’s Chicago Flagship store, 840 N. Michigan Ave., is not only the largest Verizon store in the country, but the largest telecommunications store overall in the U.S. With two full floors of devices and accessories, there’s no shortage of shopping options. The first floor shows off a wall of

Bluetooth speakers, and floor to ceiling displays of cell phone cases. LED screens line the walls of the open-concept store, displaying devices available for purchase. If customers see something they like, all they have to do is reach out and touch—every screen covered wall in Verizon is a touch screen. Customers shopping for an iPad can touch images of the iPad they see on screens and are then prompted with a pop up that shows their shopping options, including colors, sizes and prices.

Below the screens, devices are lined up and all are “live.” That means customers can try out any device they see. “We like to be interactive,” said store manager Lani Burke,

“Everything we have for sale you can actually try out before you buy it.” Testing out your tech is a definite draw for customers. In terms of where to purchase an iPhone, the new Apple store only is one option in the sea of modern day science-museum-like stores on the Mag Mile, whose innovative additions are making retail spaces more and more creative.

Nando’s celebrates new restaurant with Chance the Rapper at the grill

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Nando’s newest restaurant opened in the Loop on Sept. 4, serving up plates of Peri-Peri chicken just minutes after opening their doors. As chicken-loving Chicagoans awaited the 11a.m. opening, lines wound up the stairs under a 21-foot installation of brightly colored aluminum cans. Hanging from the ceiling of the entryway through the dining area, the chandelier is just one of many indigenous South African artworks visitors can expect to see at the new flagship store. 

Creating its signature dish with the South African Bird’s Eye chili pepper,  Nando’s strives to keep close to its roots, including South African dishes on every menu, and sourcing all decorations from indigenous artists.

On the new restaurant’s second day in business, lines grew even longer as Grammy Award winner Chance the Rapper put on an apron and served up Nando’s specialties. 

Chance, a Chatham native, volunteered his time at Nando’s to launch a three-day fundraised for Chicago Public Schools. All proceeds from Nando’s new store from Sept. 5 to Sept. 9, except alcohol, were donated to Chance’s charity, SocialWorks.

Earlier this month, Chance announced that SocialWorks had raised more than $2.2 million for CPS. Across the U.S., Nando’s aims to partner with local public schools and other organizations, said company spokesperson Jim Popkin, and has raised more than $225 thousand nationwide.

“Nando’s loves to pair with people who love to give back to the community,” said Jessica Reicher, Chief Operations Officer for Nando’s.

Throughout the evening on Sept. 5, the 24-year-old rapper cooked with the chefs, saw guests to their tables, and delivered food orders to fans.

The extensive food menu at Nando’s includes their most popular dish, Peri-Peri chicken, and a variety of sides, salads and vegetarian options. The succulent Peri-Peri chicken is marinated for more than 24-hours with Bird’s Eye, a South African chili pepper. The chicken is then flame-grilled and basted in a variety of flavors, from mango lime to “xtra hot”, based on your choice from the “peri-ometer” spice scale. 

The restaurant, which first opened its doors in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987, came to Chicago just two years ago after establishing a heavy presence in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas, with over 35 locations. The new restaurant, at 155 N. Michigan Avenue, is the largest here in Chicago.

Serving over 50 people in their first half hour, Reicher said its also going to be one of the busiest. 

The expansive dining room and lofted patio area make room for a vast collection of indigenous art, with several original paintings decorating the walls. 

“Every Nando’s is different by design, we never wanted anything to be cookie cutter,” said Jim Popkin. But one thing is the same, all their designs are made by hand by South African artists. 

Though the restaurant has more than 1,200 restaurants in 23 countries and on five continents, Popkin said “Our Michigan Ave. address is a big deal.” Reicher said the Nando’s team is excited about the location, and hope it will reach a variety of customers. 

“It’s a great area because its near Chicago locals but its also on the tourists’ path,” said Jessica Reichier, chief operations office for Nando’s.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. It closes at 3p.m. on Tuesday and stays open late on Friday, until 11p.m. The location features a full dining menu, with the option to order online, along with outdoor patio seating and a beer, wine and sangria menu. 


New Eastside business tops best places to work

Crain’s Chicago Business released the results of its annual Best Places to Work report for 2017. This year Microsoft, with Midwest district offices based out of New Eastside at 200 E. Randolph, landed the top spot on the list. Microsoft was also No.1 on Crain’s inaugural list of Chicago’s Best Places to Work for Minorities.

Location is a critical part of being a great place to work, says Midwest Operations and Community Manager, Mary Monroy-Spampinato, who has been at the company for 16 years. She adds New Eastside offers “many restaurants, shopping options” and “beautiful views and easy access to parks for walks or concerts.”

Businesses in Cook County and six surrounding counties with “more than 50 full-time employees” were eligible to apply, Crain’s reported. The publication ranked the participating companies using answers to two surveys: a quan- titative employer survey to measure corporate policies and benefits, and a qualitative survey to assess employee experience.

There were 195 applicants and respons- es from more than 14,900 area employ- ees, and what sets Microsoft apart is the opportunity to work with “incred- ibly smart and compassionate” peers “who love their communities as much as they love technology,” says Adam

Hecktman, director of technology & civic innovation for Chicago, a 25-year veteran at the company.

— Ben Cirrus, Community Contributor

Prudential’s new electric bus fleet

parker01-01A new fleet of 10 “nautically themed” electric buses aims to give Aon and Prudential workers a cleaner, more colorful commute.

On Dec. 5 the new shuttles, each featuring a different sea creature, will replace eight “loud and dirty” diesel buses, according to Prudential general manager Bryan Oyster.

“We recognized the tenants coming into the building were environmentally conscious,” says Oyster. “And, we wanted a design that stood out in the community.”

Design highlights include an octopus wrapping its tentacles around the Aon and Prudential Buildings, a bright red lobster whose claw bisects the Aon and Prudential Buildings and a lime-green seahorse carrying a checkered patterned picture of a diver on its back. According to bus manufacturer Proterra, Aon and Prudential will be the first commercial office buildings in the country to lease a zero-emission electric shuttle fleet. 


The octopus-themed bus in Prudential’s new electric fleet

Each building will lease five buses, with routes continuing to/from Ogilvie, Union, and LaSalle Street Stations from 6:15 to 9:30 a.m. each morning, and from 4 to 7:30 p.m. each night. A new app-based ticketing system will enable commuters to purchase tickets online and track buses in real time.

As the new buses are rolled out, shuttle fares will bump up a quarter, from $1.75 to $2.00 each way.

— Tricia Parker

Wanda severs New Eastside

The benefits of the Wanda Vista Tower will be realized in 2019.
Until then, New Eastside residents and business owners make sacrifices.


On a warm September Saturday night, the scene at Island Party Hut was idyllic: a group of laughing women pose for a picture, beanbags slap against colorful boards. But something important was missing.

“No one,” said Steve, one of three owners, who preferred to use his first name only, as he glanced around. “There’s no [neighbors] here. There used to be 10 or 20.”

Steve turned back after scanning the 80 or so customers. “I know it doesn’t sound like a lot. But 10 or 20 would be awesome to have.”

Three weeks after the Wanda construction site severed the neighborhood’s Field Blvd. riverfront connection Aug. 22, Steve and other local business owners were feeling the impact—financial and otherwise.

“The biggest [issue] is navigating people down here,” said Urban Kayaks owner Aaron Gershenzon, referring to the many customers who use Millennium Garage. Tourists make up the Riverwalk business’s main clientele, but Gershenzon says a “decent percentage” come from Lakeshore East.

img_9658awebWhile the Wanda opening in early 2020 promises a relit and repaved route to the riverfront, business owners still face three long summers without direct access to a loyal customer base. Steve estimates New Eastsiders made up about 20 percent of Island Party Hut’s business before the Wanda closure; that number’s now dropped to 10 percent. Questions also linger about why businesses weren’t informed about the closure earlier.

“A customer said they couldn’t get to the place,” said Steve. “A few days later, residents said it would be closed two to three years. We didn’t know it was going to be closed.”

A Magellan representative confirmed Steve’s observation. “I have to admit I did not send them a notice… so there’s really no good explanation,” said the representative.

As for neighbors, reactions to the new inconvenience seemed mixed, both highlighting business owners’ worst fears and also offering a sliver of hope.

“We used to go to [Island Party Hut] before, but not since the path closed, because of the kids,” said Ulla Rittstieg, who lives in The Shoreham with her one- and three-year-old children.

img_9280webI’m by myself, so it’s easy,” added fellow Shoreham resident Elizabeth Grabill, who claimed she’d keep patronizing the riverfront businesses, regardless of the extra distance.

Steve and Gershenzon urged neighbors to keep in mind the Magellan discount — 20 percent at Urban Kayaks and 15 percent at Island Party Hut. Steve also encouraged neighbors to support Island Party Hut’s pumpkin patch and inaugural Christmas tree sale. This year will be the first year Island Party Hut stays open through the fall, until Dec. 21, Steve estimates, thanks to two covered tents.

“Continue to fight for access to the riverwalk,” Steve encouraged neighbors. “Please come any way you can.”

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