Five quirky gift ideas

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

Adopt a Catfish

Any Chicagoan can help make the Chicago River healthier by adopting one of its 277,000 channel catfish. These fish were released into the river as part of the “Friends of the Chicago River” restoration project. By adopting a catfish or giving one as a gift, you will make it possible for Friends to advocate for clean water and a healthy habitat. You can help the environment, and celebrate any occasion with this gift.

For more information, visit


Give the gift of lacrosse, basketball and bumper cars all in one with a Whirlyball gift certificate. ThisChicago-native game is a classic in the local scene, where a minimum of four players can drive a “souped- up” bumper car and shoot a whirly ball into the net. Some locations even include additional games like laser tag, bowling, pool and arcade games.

For more information, visit

Chicago Snuggie

There are numerous ways to support your favorite Chicago sports team, like gifting a team snuggie this holiday season. The MLB store offers a range of team options from the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears. Instead of offering your sports-obsessed friend or family member commonly gifted sportswear—like a t-shirt or jersey—mix it up this season with a comfortable way to support their team.

For more information, visit

Ritualistic Mist

The holidays are the best time to ask for something you want, even if it means using a ritualistic mist. Augustine’s Apothecary on Halsted offers the “Come to Me” kit, used to attract a person you love, a job, wealth, abundance— anything you want to bring into your life. The kit includes ritual instructions, sea salt, a piece of rose quartz,  a white votive candle, a Come to Me Mist-Spray and a love-drawing herbal sachet.

For more information, visit

Nose Warmer

Cold noses are now a thing of the past during Chicago’s cold winter months. The nose warmer is a unique way to keep your nose from freezing up when the temperature drops below zero. These crocheted beauties are available in different colors and designs, making your face the center of attention at any outdoor event.

For more information, visit

Local grocers make holiday feast prep a breeze

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

If you find the concept of preparing, cooking and cleaning up after holiday meals daunting—or if you are busy this holiday season and unsure how to fit in meal prep—cater your meal from a local grocery store and you can still be the host with the most.

We scoped out four options in the New Eastside, their menu offerings, ease of ordering and bonus features.

Whole Foods

Ordering from Whole Foods, 225 E. Grand Ave., is easy with their full online menu. The store has special holiday menu items including cooked turkeys, side dishes and desserts. The menu changes based on each upcoming holiday. You can schedule your pick-up by date and specific time. For catering and holiday menus, visit whole

Treasure Island

A separate online holiday menu is available from Treasure Island, 680 N. Lakeshore Dr., but you must either call or email their catering department to order. Treasure Island offers traditional choices like turkey and ham dinners, as well as other meals like roast duck and prime rib. The store also offers a catering service, where uniformed staff set up and serve your meal, for $35 to $45 per hour. Orders require 24 to 48-hour notice, but Treasure Island works to accommodate customers based on their needs. “Our great customer service, our great food quality, freshly made, and our best prices, is what sets us apart from other grocers,” said Ariel Morales, Treasure Island’s deli buyer and merchandiser. For more information, visit


Mariano’s Lakeshore East location, 333 E. Benton Pl., keeps around 70–80 holiday meals in stock and usually sells out each year. Meals include turkeys, spiral hams, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry relish. All meals are fully cooked, but are packaged cold and need to be reheated when served. Orders can be placed as early as a month in advance and according to catering department employee Adam Heusinkveld, “The sooner orders are placed, the better.” For more information on catering and holiday menus or to place an order, call (312) 228-1349


Bockwinkel’s, 155 N Harbor Dr. and 222 N. Columbus Dr., offers a smaller grab- and-go selection consisting of deli and bakery trays. For the customer who needs to bring an appetizer or dessert to a holiday party, this store is a quick and easy option. Choose from meat and cheese trays, sandwich trays, all meat trays, fruit trays, veggie trays, and many more. Their bakery options include dessert trays, croissant trays, breakfast trays and decorated cakes. For more information, visit

Lakeshore East Mariano’s deli department offers a wide variety of meals, sides and trays for your events. Photo by Nicole VandeBoom.

Live holiday entertainment warms New Eastside

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer and Ben Kowalski | Copy Editor

November 16, 2017

New Eastsiders searching for live entertainment this holiday season may find just what they’re looking for, without going too far from home. Options range from jazz music to improv comedy and include high-quality offerings at hotels.

November marks the first anniversary of Winter’s Jazz Club, 465 McClurg Ct., where cartoon classics come to life.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be performed a day before Thanksgiving on November 22. Additionally, A Charlie Brown Christmas will be performed on December 5 and 14. Winter’s owner Scott Stegman said the Charlie Brown Christmas show, for audiences aged 12 and above, was so popular last year that the club decided to add a second performance this year. “We recreate the exact [soundtrack] album with a three-person choir, so it’s really a charming little evening,” Stegman said.

Local hotels are also a convenient and high-quality option. This season, enjoy Latin

(Top) Winter’s Jazz Club. Photo courtesy Winter’s Jazz Club

Rhythms and pop grooves with acoustic artist Joey Edwin. This November, Edwin, whose musical career includes performances on MTV and at the House of Blues, showcases his talent at THE BAR in Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr.

Colleen Sweitzer, the Fairmont Chicago’s marketing manager, said Edwin’s music has a great rhythm, but isn’t overpowering. “He’s the perfect mix of great background music that you can also sit and enjoy it like it’s the center of your attention,” she said. “For those who are looking for something a little different, he’s great.”

While Winter’s Jazz Club and the Fairmont Chicago hotel combine live music in a comfortable atmosphere, Second City’s Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., pairs improv comedy with theater and audience participation.

Joe Ruffner, producer of Second City’s touring company, said the holiday show, titled Holidazed & Confused: Mandatory Merriment, is an annual production.

“It’s a fresh take on the holidays,” he said. “Parental advisory is recommended—it’s not your kid’s holiday show.”

Laughs can also be had closer to home at Seven Bar & Restaurant, 400 E. Randolph St., where Chicago’s best local comedians have been rounded up with Backyard Besties performing varying acts on the third Friday of every month.

Maya Epstein, a New Eastside local, helps produce another comedy show at Seven titled “Bad People, Good Comedy.” Erica Nicole Clark of Comedy Central will headline their next show on November 3, alongside comedians St. James Jackson, Chris Higgins, Tessa Orzech and Sabeen Sadiq.

“We get a mix of people from the building, comedy lovers and Lakeshore East neighbors,” Epstein said. “Entertainment options are few and far between. Seven is great because it’s this unexpected bar in the middle of a condo building. You’d never know it was there, which makes for a fun surprise for the people who come to our shows. It’s pretty amazing to see such a great line-up in an intimate space.”

Seven’s owner Mohammed Rafiq said attendees enjoy the performances Seven puts on, because there is no other club like it in the area. “We get a very good turn out with the show. If you’ve ever come to a show of ours, it’s very well produced and very overdone,” he said. “We have lights, music, a very good sound system, and very good microphones.”

If New Eastsiders are searching for a solid meal with nightly jazz performances, Bandera restaurant and bar on 535 N. Michigan Avenue is the location they’ve been waiting for. Offering American cuisine with a southwestern flair, Bandera provides great views of Michigan Ave. and live music every night from 6–11 p.m. Rebecca Schwartz, Bandera’s general manager, said nightly jazz performances have always been part of the restaurant’s feng shui. “We have three different trios that rotate each day of the week,” she said.“The Dave Williams Trio, the Paul Martin trio and the Jo Ann Daugherty Trio.”

Musical-enthusiasts young and old can also enjoy the Chicago Cultural Center’s (78 E. Washington) performance of The Nutcracker while participating in their free holiday event, “Dance-Along Nutcracker” on December 3.

Ballet Chicago performers at the 2015 Dance-Along Nutcraker performance.Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

Members of Ballet Chicago will teach basic movements at an optional lesson at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Then, at noon and 3 p.m., participants are invited to join the dancers of Ballet Chicago for a Nutcracker performance. The Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble will also perform live music.

Mary May, the Cultural Center’s special events coordinator, calls Dance-Along Nutcracker a “darling event.” “Kids from all ages dress up and get to be a Sugarplum Fairy or a Mouse King for the day,” she said. “It’s all levels of dancing as well. What’s more ‘holiday’ than Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic?

For residents with disabilities, how accessible is New Eastside?

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

If you were in a wheelchair, could you get to your favorite restaurant? Would your daily commute be possible if you could no longer walk? Most of us do not bother to ask these questions, but for some New Eastside residents these are questions that must be asked every time they leave their home.

With its wealth of new construction, bus routes, the accessible Washington/Wabash CTA station, Pedway access and the wheelchair-friendly Millennium and Maggie Daley parks, New Eastside is more accommodating for people with disabilities than many other neighborhoods. While the amenities do not add up to an all-accessible utopia, they do make for an environment more easy to navigate—especially in the bitter throes of a Chicago winter—than many others in the city.

Disability advocate Michele Lee outside the AON Center, 200 E. Randolph St. Photo by B. David Zarley.

Providing shelter and connecting businesses, cultural institutions and transit options, the Pedway system is often a viable route for residents with disabilities. Maureen Reagan, president and founder of MRA Architects Ltd. uses a powered wheelchair and said the Pedway is “a godsend in inclement weather.”

Accessibility advocate Michele Lee, who also uses a powered wheelchair, agreed. “I think it’s great that New Eastside has the Pedway system ingrained in it,” she said. An employee of AON and former resident of Harbor Point, Lee also serves as a local guide for Google Maps, helping to rate and collect data on accessibility for various locations.

Accessibility is not only important for people with disabilities, but also useful for parents pushing strollers, shoppers shuttling carts and travelers trailing luggage. However, not all parts of the Pedway are accessible. The Pedway entrance and exit at Prudential Plaza, next to Millennium Station are obstacles faced by travelers. With revolving doors, escalators and stairs, this entrance and exit form an impassable gauntlet for those who need an accessible route from New Eastside into the Loop.

A little-known accessible path does exist, connecting New Eastside to the Thompson Center in the Loop. However, no maps suggest the long route which passes beneath the Aon building and along a Metra train platform, and most people discover it only after really exploring the Pedway. In order to increase awareness of the wheelchair-friendly route, community Pedway tours sponsored by New Eastside News, have led groups along the accessible path from New Eastside to Macy’s on State St.

Macy’s Pedway elevator. Photo by B. David Zarley.

City-wide programs aim to help address accessibility challenges. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities have a variety of useful resources such as Accessibility Compliance Units, which can be requested for site inspections. Groups like Access Living advocate for people with disabilities, providing information and referrals, and teaches skills for budgeting, moving around town and seeking employment.

For more information about the accessible Pedway route, community members should contact

New Eastside News.

Email or

call 312-690-3092.

Workers ready Skating Ribbon and McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

The ice comes under the cover of darkness. Layer upon layer, thin sheets of water are laid down hot by Zamboni ice resurfacers. Freed from the deleterious effects of direct sunlight, the layers accumulate until they make a fine sheet. Come 12 p.m. on November 17, visitors will be able to lace up their skates and feel the bite of their blades as another skating season begins. 

Both the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon are managed and maintained by Westrec, a marina management company that also contracts with Chicago Harbors. Before Westrec begins to lay ice, the glycol cooling systems running under the rinks are checked to make sure the chillers, compressors and piping that carries the glycol are running properly. The glycol system takes one to two days to cool the surface of the rink.

This maintenance process begins in the fall, according to Westrec Executive Vice President Scott Stevenson. “When the weather gets cool enough, we’ll then start to build ice,” he said. Temperatures should be below freezing at night and no higher than 40 degrees during the day, according to Stevenson.

After the surfaces are completely coated with these initial layers of water, the ice gets painted white with water soluble paint. White is not merely an aesthetic choice. “The white paint helps reflect the sunlight and helps us maintain the ice during the skating season,” Stevenson said. While the ice can withstand spring-like temperatures—55 to 60 degrees on the Ribbon or even a balmy 65 degrees at McCormick Tribune—sunshine is the enemy.

After the paint is applied, the Zamboni lays down up to 30 layers of ice, putting two to three inches between skaters and the paint. In addition to creating a smoother surface—the best ice, Stevenson explained, comes by laying hot water—the thin layers that the Zamboni lays even allows for ice to build on the slanted and uneven grade of the Ribbon. With problem-spot shaving blades, regular Zamboni passes are the majority of the maintenance the rink and Ribbon require during the season.

Sophie Slotnik (left), Dillon Johnston and Isa-belle Pihlträd skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter 2016. Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

“It’s kind of a wintertime tradition for many people to come downtown and skate in Millennium Park,” said Kenya Merritt, deputy commissioner at the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Merritt says Loop skating has long been the norm in Chicago. Before the Millennium Park rinks were open, downtown skating took place at a rink that was located where Block 37 now stands, 108 N. State St.

Urban Real Estate rallies behind campaign to create new children’s programs in Englewood

By Urban Real Estate

November 15, 2017

Over the years, New Eastside’s Urban Real Estate has made charitable gifts to many local organizations focused on bringing services to Chicago’s citizens who need it most. With the season of giving approaching, one group in particular is making a difference in the lives of kids who would most benefit from these services.

Urban Real Estate presents a check to the ULBGC last holiday season. Photo courtesy of Urban Real Estate.

In 2016, Urban got behind the programs of the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs (ULBGC), supporting the group with a portion of closing proceeds and gifts throughout the year to benefit the programs ULBGC offers to support our city’s kids.

When managing partner Matt Farrell shared with his partners what the ULBGC had in store this year, all agreed to get behind the cause. Farrell, who also serves as a trustee of the ULBGC, was thrilled to see a campaign centered around bringing new programs to Chicago’s Englewood community, an area which over recent years, has seen dramatic changes that have negatively impacted the local youth.

“There has never been a more important time for us to invest in our future,”  Farrell said. “We have kids who need us to bring them resources and guidance in helping shape every future decision they are going to make, in a community that deserves our help. We couldn’t be prouder to support the ULBGC Great Englewood Futures Start Here. For us, being a good corporate citizen means giving year-round, and lending a hand in every way we can.”

The campaign hopes to increase programming offered at four Englewood school-based sites, bringing enrollment from 100–600 members throughout grades 1–12. The programs are centered around offering academic support, healthy lifestyle education, and courses in good character and citizenship.

In lieu of a traditional holiday party, this year Urban Real Estate is again supporting ULBGC with a contribution to be made on behalf of Urban’s clients during the holiday season. Last year, Urban raised and contributed more than $16,000 from a similar event.

As you consider your charitable gifts this year, learn more about how you can get involved in the Great Englewood Futures Start Here campaign at

Urban Real Estate

400 E. Randolph St.

(312) 528-9200

GEMS upper school building height reduced

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

No right on red

New red light cameras planned for 42nd Ward intersections

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

By the end of the year, three new red light cameras are slated to be placed at the intersections of Michigan Ave. and Ontario St., Michigan Ave. and Jackson Blvd., and Lake and Wacker Streets, barring objections by 42nd Ward residents. The metrics for selecting the new corners were provided by an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) commissioned study by the Northwestern University Transportation Center to reevaluate the city’s controversial camera program.

An intersection’s crash numbers are entered into the Transportation Center’s template and receive a score, explained Abraham Emmanuel, CDOT’s deputy commissioner for traffic safety. “We can take any intersection in the city, plug that in and get the score,” Emmanuel said. While the Northwestern study is being used to help select camera placements, Emmanuel made it clear that it is not the only factor—human judgement and community input matter as well.

At a public meeting in October, Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and a small contingent of envoys from Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) met in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Millennium Park and discussed placement of red-light cameras.

For the most part, the meeting seemed a formality and show of strength; most of the speaking was done by the abolitionists in their bright, logo-bearing sweatshirts and six CDOT posters. “We are here as an advocacy group that [has] been advocating for the abolition of photo enforcement—or red-light cameras, speed cameras—in the city of Chicago for over five years,” said Mark Wallace, executive director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and host of The People’s Show on WVON. “There’s no questions that it’s about revenue [more] than it is about traffic safety.”

CDOT Deputy Commissioner for Traffic Safety Abraham Emmanuel (foreground left) at the October 16 meeting; Mark Wallace, executive director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras can be seen in a black vest and white shirt in the background. Photo by B. David Zarley

Wallace cited a study done by Texas A&M’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, published by the Tribune in 2014, that found the cameras “do not reduce injury-related crashes overall.” The study also found minor reductions in right-angle crashes—around 15 percent—and a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes, perhaps caused by motorist’s slamming of the brakes or becoming yellow-shy at the idea of getting snapped for a ticket.

From its outset, Chicago’s red-light camera program has been rife with controversy. Cameras were installed in the midst of a bribery scandal and issued tickets for intersections where the yellow-light times were below federal minimum. The cameras also failed to send out second notifications before raising fines, leading to a class-action lawsuit that saw the city settling for millions. Since then, the second notification was written out of the ordinance.

In an effort to help build public support for the program and make the ordinance more fair, the city has increased the grace period—during which a light can be red and a car not be photographed running it—to 0.3 seconds. Additionally, cameras that issued tickets but did not see a markedreduction in crashes are being removed.

“They generate tickets, but that’s not a concern of ours,” said Mike Claffey, directorof public affairs at CDOT. “Our concern is based purely on traffic safety.”

The Northwestern Study, completed in early 2017, found that the cameras led to a 10 percent overall reduction of crashes and a 19 percent reduction in more dangerous crashes. The study also found the program causes a “spillover” effect, making intersections safer even without cameras.

Dental office to open in Village Market

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

Lakeshore East residents can smile confidently this year. In late November, Chicago Dental Boutique, run by dentist and Lakeshore East resident Dr. Rohi Atassi and his wife Samia Akhras, will open in The Village Market, 333 E. Benton Pl.

The practice will provide a full selection of comprehensive dental care, including routine dental care, oral surgery, Invisalign, full mouth reconstruction, implants, laser dentistry and pediatric dentistry.

Dr. Rohi Atassi in front of The Chicago Dental Boutique located on the 3rd floor of The Village Market, 333 E. Benton Pl. Photo courtesy of Samia Akhras.

North Harbor Tower resident Nadine Ferranti is looking forward to the addition. “The fact that they are going to have a pediatric dentist is a plus. Lakeshore East is lacking things for kids here,” Ferranti said.

Akhras, Chicago Dental Boutique’s patient coordinator, notes the convenience for residents. “It is walking distance,” she said. “You can get a dental exam then pick up groceries at Mariano’s, and then be home in five to ten minutes.”

Atassi received his D.D.S. in 2011 and his certificate in Advanced Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry in 2015. He then became a member of the UCLA Center for Esthetic Dentistry faculty, teaching a course on clinical skills and working closely on expanding a new clear aligners orthodontic system. Upon moving to Chicago in 2016, Atassi began working in private practices in the Chicagoland area.

The office will have state-of-the-art dental technology and equipment, and six modern patient care rooms that promote a spa-like experience, decked out with noise-canceling headphones, massage chairs, and two flat-screen TV’s in each patient care room.

“I believe that opening Chicago Dental Boutique in Lakeshore East will make dental healthcare more accessible to our community,” Atassi said.

Chicago Dental Boutique

333. E Benton Pl.

(312) 868-0301

New neighborhood musician moves into The Shoreham

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

Detroit native Phillip-Michael Scales has earned the title of Lakeshore East’s Musician in Residence and is moving into the neighborhood. Scales intends to bring his own personal flavor to his performances, which he describes as “bluesy and soulful” to special Lakeshore East events hosted by Megallan.

Phillip-Michael Scales performs at Sonic Lunch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, summer 2017. Photo courtesy of Phillip-Michael Scalestured

Scales’ catchy interpretations of popular songs, paired with his bright smile, won the crowd this fall in the Lakeshore East Legend Contest at the 11th annual Magellan Rewards Festival, landing him the prize of living rent-free for one year in the Shoreham.

Scales said he looks forward to playing music for a living. “It’ll be great to have a place to call home full-time,” Scales explained. “[To] just be able to dedicate what I would put towards rent to more music and more creativity.”

In addition to performing in New Eastside, he hopes to offer instruction and encouragement to budding musicians in the neighborhood. According to an email from Magellan Community Relations Director Vanessa Casciano, “Phillip-Michael will be performing mostly at our Lakeshore East Magellan Property Managed buildings, but he will be a part of the Drunken Bean and all Lakeshore East Park events.”

Fellow musician Molly Coleman, who met Scales at the exhibit at the Superior Artist in residence contest last spring, believes Scales deserves his role because of his professionalism.

“He is humble and grounded,” Coleman wrote in an email. “He takes what he does seriously and he does it with style and poise. He’s got that charm going for him, for sure.”

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