Bakers Square closes Alsip, Lansing, Orland Park locations

Bakers Square has closed its south suburban locations in Lansing, Alsip and on LaGrange Road in Orland Park. (Photo by Bob Bong)

By Bob Bong

Nashville-based Bakers Square Restaurants announced on Saturday that it had closed without warning all but one of its south suburban locations from Merrillville in northwest Indiana to Orland Park in southwest Cook County.

Locations closed include 3545 Ridge Road in Lansing, 4839 W. 111th St. in Alsip, 14651 S. LaGrange Road in Orland Park and 8140 S. Mississippi St. in Merrillville, Ind.

The action leaves a Bakers Square still operating at 15711 S. Harlem Ave. in Orland Park in the south suburbs and one at 1675 U.S. Highway 41 in Schererville in northwest Indiana. The next closest locations still open are at 942 S. LaGrange Road in LaGrange, one in Woodridge and another in Bourbonnais-Bradley.

A news release taped to the front doors of the closed location in Orland Park states, “After very careful consideration, we have made the tough but necessary decision to discontinue operations at the Orland Park location. This is never an easy decision to make and one driven by many business factors.” The same message was taped to all of the other locations with the name of that location changed in the release.

One of those factors apparently was the filing on Monday for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection by American Blue Ribbon Holdings, the corporate parent of Bakers Square and Village Inn restaurants.

In the filing, the company said it closed 33 locations over the weekend citing high wages, growing competition, declining sales and higher operating costs. American Blue Ribbon has $14 million in unsecured claims, including unpaid rent and litigation claims, according to the filing.

A press release on Monday said American Blue Ribbon filed for bankruptcy to restructure under “a healthy core of restaurants.” The company said it was exploring “a variety of strategic and structural alternatives to best position the company for success in the future.”

The 33 restaurants represented a quarter of the locations American Blue Ribbon operated before filing for bankruptcy. Following the closures, the company operates 97 restaurants, 75 of which are Village Inn locations. Franchisees own and operate another 84 Village Inn locations, while Bakers Square has 22 restaurants in the Midwest.

Bakers Square began in December 1969 with a single restaurant called Mrs. C’s in Des Moines, Iowa, that became popular for its pies. Pillsbury purchased Mrs. C’s around that time, renamed it Poppin’ Fresh Pies, and opened additional locations. VICORP, owners of the Village Inn restaurant chain, purchased Poppin’ Fresh Pies from Pillsbury in 1983 and renamed the chain Bakers Square.

The company said pies represent 30% of Bakers Square’s sales. They were also known for giving away pie slices on Wednesdays.

Beverly coffee shop closes

B-Sides Coffee & Tea, which opened at 9907 S. Walden Pkwy. in October 2017, closed its door on Friday as owners Kevin and Karen O’Malley have relocated from Chicago’s Beverly community to her hometown of Indianapolis.

The couple named the business after the B-side of records and because it was located next to the Beverly Metra stop.

The couple has been managing the business from Indianapolis but said it was too much for them.

Express closes 2 Illinois stores

Fashion apparel retailer Express closed 31 stores last weekend including stores at River Oaks Mall in Calumet City and Hawthorne Mall in Vernon Hills.

They are among 100 stores the company said it would close by the end of 2022.

Express said it will also close another 35 stores by the end of January 2021 and the remaining locations by 2022. An additional nine stores had already closed in 2019.

The move to close stores is part of the company’s new corporate strategy, which focuses on customer engagement. The retailer is also looking to relaunch its loyalty program and private label credit cards by this fall.

Matteson Bar Louie survives purge

Bar Louie, the Texas-based gastropub chain founded in Chicago 30 years ago, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Monday and closed more than 30 corporate-owned locations.

Thirty-eight corporate-owned locations were closed over the weekend due to “accelerating” sales declines. The chain, which had grown to 134 locations in 26 states, cites recent expansion, an “inconsistent brand experience” and decreased traffic to shopping malls as leading to the declines, according to the filing Monday in a Delaware bankruptcy court.

While the Bar Louie inside the Holiday Inn at Interstate 57 and U.S. 30 in Matteson survived the purge, locations at 22 E. Chicago Ave. in Naperville and 335 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago both closed over the weekend.

Wintrust announces cash dividends

Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial Corp. last week announced that the company’s board of directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of 28 cents per share of outstanding common stock.

The dividend is payable on Feb. 20 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 6. This represents an increase of approximately 12% from the 25 cents quarterly cash dividend paid in each of the quarters of 2019.

Additionally, the company’s board of directors approved quarterly cash dividends on outstanding shares of the company’s 6.50% Fixed-to-Floating Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series D. The dividend is payable on April 15 to shareholders of record as of April 1.

Open Bottle in Tinley Park to unveil 4th annual special brew this weekend

Julia and Patrick Bisch will unveil their fourth special holiday brew, Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout, on Nov. 30. (Photo by Bob Bong)

By Bob Bong

The Open Bottle craft beer shop and taproom in Tinley Park will unveil its fourth annual holiday collaboration beer with Hailstorm Brewing this weekend.

Open Bottle will donate $1 for every four-pack sold to Tinley Wish, a local charity that raises money for Tinley Park families in need. Last year, they raised $1,500.

All three earlier versions of the special brew were named after cookies. The tradition continues this year with the release of Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout, which will go on sale at noon Saturday, Nov. 30, at both the Open Bottle and Hailstorm Brewing. Previous versions were named Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter and Samoa (after the Girl Scout cookie).

“We’re excited to release our annual collaboration beer with our friends and neighbors at Hailstorm Brewing,” said Patrick Bisch, co-owner of The Open Bottle with his wife, Julia. “For the past four years, we’ve made this beer, and this year we took inspiration from one of our favorite cookies, hot chocolate cookies. So, we added hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, and vanilla to this imperial milk stout.”

The new brew will be available in two versions on draft and in cans at both locations. There will be a traditional stout called original and a special batch aged in old bourbon barrels.

“We aged a portion of the beer in bourbon barrels to give it an even more complex and richer flavor,” said Bisch.

“Like the past three years, this year we are donating $1 from every four-pack sold to Tinley Wish,” said Julia Bisch. “Their mission and execution on giving back to the community is commendable, and we always support them with our annual Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout release with Hailstorm.”

Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout has a bite. Besides being on the sweet side because of the hot chocolate mix, the original version has an alcohol by volume of 11 percent. The bourbon barrel version has an ABV of 12 percent.

Patrick Bisch said the special brew goes fast and when it’s gone it’s gone.

“We brewed 30 barrels of the original but only seven barrels of the bourbon barrel version,” he said.

The Manhattan couple opened the Open Bottle in January 2015 at 7101 W. 183rd St. in a retail strip at the entrance to the Holiday Inn. The store is open from 3-9 p.m. Mondays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

For information, call The Open Bottle at 708-263-0449.

Hailstorm is located at 8060 W. 186th St. in Tinley Park. Hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 9 p.m. on Thursday, from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday and closed on Mondays.

For information, call Hailstorm at 708-232-8072.

Barrel Club delays opening to Wednesday in Oak Lawn

The Barrel Club will hold its opening at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Oak Lawn. (Photo by Bob Bong)

The Barrel Club has scheduled its opening for next week at Oak Lawn’s Promenade shopping center.

The original opening date of Monday, July 8, was pushed back to Wednesday, July 10. The restaurant said the delay was due to circumstances beyond their control.

The bar will open at 3 p.m. and the restaurant at 4 p.m.

The upscale restaurant and bar at 4910 W. 111th St. will have a hearty menu along with a specialty list of whiskeys and spirits, according to principal owner John Zawaski.

“As of now, we can tell you it will be American fare with meat coming from Whittingham’s, bread coming from Buttercrumb Bakery and recipes created from Chef Carlos,” Zawaski said in a message.

“We will have daily dinner specials that will include Bone in Meatloaf (yes, you read correctly), Friday night fish fry, (which will include pan fried perch), and prime rib on Saturday nights.

“We are currently working on our very own barrel-aged Old Fashions and Manhattans as well as many fun drinks made from our private label spirits that you can only get at The Barrel Club.”

The 8,300-square-foot restaurant has been taste testing its fare and specialty drinks in preparation for its scheduled opening this week.

The Barrel Club originally had hoped to be open earlier this year, but Zawaski said weather-related delays pushed construction back.

The establishment is expected to have indoor seating for about 300 with additional patio seating outside when the weather permits.

Restaurant hours will be 4-10 p.m. Monday to Sunday. Bar hours will be 3 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Wednesday and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday.

Beverly native Zawaski is also part of the ownership group of Black Oak Restaurant and Tavern that opened a couple of years ago at 9630 S. Pulaski Road in Oak Lawn.

For more information, visit barrelclubillinois.com.

2019 guide to fireworks, parades and fun for the Fourth

Here’s a rundown of area Independence Day events planned to celebrate America’s birthday between now and the Fourth of July.

BRIDGEVIEW: The Bridgeview Park District will celebrate Independence Day with a picnic on Wednesday, July 3, at Commissioners Park, 8100 S. Oketo Ave. Food will be available from Sno Daze Tropical Sno, Zacarelli’s pizza, Beavers donuts and Don Rafa tacos.

DJ Mike will provide entertainment from 5-10 p.m. Those Funny Little People will be there at 8 p.m. Fireworks start at dusk (about 9 p.m.)

SUMMIT: The Summit Park District will have an evening of fun beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, at Summit Park, 5700 S. Archer Road. There will be beer, food, music. Fireworks show starts at dusk. Bring the family a blanket and chairs to reserve your spot. For more information, call 708-496-1012.

BROOKFIELD: Brookfield’s Fourth of July Parade starts at 10 a.m. Thursday at the corner of Grand and Garfield and heads due south on Grand to Brookfield Avenue, and then east to Kiwanis Park.

That’s where the village annual Party in the Park will be held from noon to 8 p.m. with music, food, beverages and fun.

LYONS: Lyons will host its annual Independence Day Parade starting at 1 p.m. Thursday. The parade begins at 46th Street and Lawndale Avenue. It heads east on 46th to Joliet Avenue, and north on Joliet to the fire station.

The Kids Party in the Park will be held from 6-9 p.m. in Veterans Park, located on the west side of Lawndale, just north of the village hall, there will be games and activities for children. Live music will be played.

The fireworks display, which always draws a big crowd, begins at dusk at the park.

RIVERSIDE: The celebration begins Wednesday night with Concert in the Park in Guthrie Park, located downtown near the train station.

A 5K run starts at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. You can register online or at the water tower near the train station.

The parade starts at 8:45 a.m. Thursday at Big Ball Park, at Delaplaine and Longcommon roads, and then heads south on Longcommon to Guthrie Park. A community festival will be held at 10:30 a.m. in Guthrie Park until 1 p.m. with food and beverage vendors.

BERWYN: Berwyn’s annual fireworks show starts at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, in the football stadium of Morton West High School, 2400 S. Home Ave. Gates open at 7 p.m.
Children’s games and activities will be offered from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The Morton High School band will play starting at 8:15 p.m. Opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 p.m. followed by a 20-minute fireworks show.

The Morton Booster Club will be selling refreshments.

EVERGREEN PARK: The annual Evergreen Park Independence Day Parade will march down 95th Street at 6:30 p.m. July 3. Fireworks will begin around 9 p.m. at Duffy Park, 92nd and Millard.

CRESTWOOD: The Windy City Thunderbolts and Village of Crestwood will celebrate with Crestwood’s annual Sparks at the Park on July 3 at Ozinga Stadium, 14011 Kenton Ave. Gates open at 6 p.m. Fireworks follow the movie “The Princess and the Frog,” which starts at 7 p.m.

The Grill behind home plate will be open and alcohol and food will be available. Outside food and drink is allowed in the ballpark for the event.

PALOS HEIGHTS: Palos Heights will celebrate from 4:30-11:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Memorial Park, 7607 College Drive. Events include food vendors, beer tent, face painting, a petting zoo, and giant slide. A DJ will entertain from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and a live band will perform from 8:30-11:30 p.m. Fireworks over Lake Katherine will begin at 9:15 p.m.

There will also be a parade at noon on the Fourth of July from the BMO Harris Bank north down Harlem Avenue to 119th Place. The Sensory Friendly Block runs from 120th and Harlem to Route 83. Fun begins at noon. For information, call 708-361-1807.

OAK LAWN: Oak Lawn kicks off the Independence Day celebration with its annual Fourth of July Parade starting at 10 a.m. at 95th Street and 51st Avenue and heads west on 95th to 55th Court.

After the parade ends, continue the fun at the Oak Lawn Park District’s Party in the Park Fourth of July event at Memorial Park, 102nd and Major Avenue. Admission is free as it’s the park district’s 75th anniversary.

Day time festivities will begin with a variety of family activities from noon to 4 p.m. that includes: A treasure hunt, Adult and Youth Watermelon Eating Contests, nature scavenger hunt, fishing derby, kids’ tattoos, carnival games, inflatables, bingo, crafts, magician, balloon animals, concessions and more!
Take a short stroll from Memorial Park to Stony Creek Golf Course, Restaurants and Banquets to participate in a mini-golf tournament and longest drive contest. The facilities dining room will also be open for food and drink purchases.

Free evening entertainment will be held at the football field at Richards High School, 106th Street and Central Avenue. Gates will open at 6 p.m. GAC Entertainment will provide music at 7 p.m. followed by a fireworks display at 9 p.m. that is co-sponsored by the Village of Oak Lawn.

ORLAND PARK: Orland Park’s celebration include a free outdoor concert Thursday from 7:15-9:15 p.m. featuring Suburban Cowboys at Centennial Park, 15600 West Ave. followed by the presentation of colors and the village’s annual fireworks show at 9:15 p.m.

OAK FOREST: Oak Forest’s 32nd annual Oak Fest runs July 3-7 and there will be fireworks at dusk on the Fourth of July at 159th Street and Central Avenue.

TINLEY PARK: Tinley Park has a full day of events planned for the Fourth of July and it all starts with one of the Southland’s most popular yearly 5K races. The Stars & Stripes 5K Run/Walk presented by Republic Bank will step off from McCarthy Park at 8 a.m.

Opening ceremonies for the remainder of the events planned by the Tinley Park-Park District will be at 4 p.m. Batting cages and miniature golf will be open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the area in between the race and the rest of the events planned for the day. Free watermelon will be available from 6-6:30 p.m.
Activities include food tent, beer tent, bingo, penny carnival, horseshoe tournament, and face painting. Music will begin at 4:15 p.m. on the main stage with Peter Oprisko, the Hat Guys will start at 5:30 and play until the fireworks. Also entertaining the crowd will be Loopy and Cazoo the clowns, Dale the Magical Balloon Dude, and Bruce Korosawa’s Polka Band.

The Tinley Park Fireworks Extravaganza display will cap everything off at dusk.

‘Let Freedom Ring’ with Krispy Kreme’s Patriotic Collection of Doughnuts

In honor of Independence Day, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts introduces the “Let Freedom Ring” patriotic collection of doughnuts at Chicagoland shops located in Homewood at 17815 S. Halsted St., Evergreen Park at 9150 S. Western Ave. and Hillside at 110 S. Mannheim Road.

The star-spangled collection consists of three Fourth of July doughnuts, available today through Independence Day, July 4:

Firework Ring Doughnut: A festive new twist on Krispy Kreme’s classic Original Glazed® Doughnut topped with blue icing, drizzled in red and white icing fireworks.

Freedom Ring Doughnut: Fan-favorite featuring Krispy Kreme’s classic Original Glazed® Doughnut decorated in the spirit of the American flag with a red, white and blue icing drizzle and sprinkles.

Patriotic Ring Doughnut: Another new take on Krispy Kreme’s classic Original Glazed® Doughnut dipped in white icing and decorated with red, white and blue sprinkles.

“Krispy Kreme’s patriotic collection is the best way to celebrate the holiday,” said Carlos Larcada, President of Chicagoland Restaurants, LLC. “You’ll be a hit at the neighborhood BBQ with a dozen of these festive doughnuts!”

Chicagoland Krispy Kreme shops will be open regular store hours on July 4.

159th Street resurfacing from Orland to Oak Forest

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that a resurfacing project on 159th Street (U.S. 6) from 94th Avenue in Orland Park to Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Forest will begin, weather permitting, Monday, July 1.

The first week of construction will require rolling closures in both directions for curb, gutter and sidewalk repairs. After July 8, intermittent, daytime lane closures will be necessary to begin resurfacing the eastbound lanes. Once the eastbound lanes are completed, work will begin westbound from Ridgeland Avenue to 94th Avenue.

The work is expected to be complete by the end of October. Starting in spring 2020, the improvements will be extended from Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Forest east to Pulaski Road in Markham.

Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.

Click here to find details on other construction projects in IDOT’s District 1. Updates on the impacts to traffic are available at www.travelmidwest.com.

Cops to hit Dunkin’ Donuts rooftops Friday morning for Special Olympics

Local police officers will be prowling Dunkin’ Donut rooftops Friday morning.

But instead of being on the lookout for bad guys, these coppers will be raising money for Special Olympics Illinois.

For the 16th year in a row, police will be atop almost 300 Dunkin’ Donut shops including locations in Alsip, Bridgeview, Brookfield, Burbank, Calumet City, Calumet Park, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Countryside, East Hazel Crest, Forest View, Frankfort, Harvey, Hodgkins, Hickory Hills, Homewood, Matteson, Midlothian, Mokena, McCook, Lansing, Lemont, Lockport, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights and Palos Park on Friday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Officers hope to top last year’s donation total of more than $700,000 from 272 rooftops as they go to new heights to raise awareness and donations for the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

In return for the police officers doing time at their stores, Dunkin’ Donuts will donate $15,000 to the Torch Run fund.

Everyone who visits a Cop on a Rooftop store and makes a donation to the Torch Run will receive a free doughnut coupon. Individuals who donate at least $10 will receive a Law Enforcement Torch Run travel mug (while supplies last) and a coupon for a free medium coffee.

Other items, such as Torch Run T-shirts and hats, will be sold for various donation amounts, and other activities will vary by Dunkin’ Donuts location.

Dunkin’ Donuts also has created a special glazed red and white donut ring depicting Special Olympics Illinois colors. The donut, called “The Champion,” will be available at Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Chicago and suburbs May 18.

Detective Robbie Peterson of the West Chicago Police Department says “Cop on a Rooftop is important because it puts the athletes of Special Olympics in the forefront that day across the state of Illinois and gives us, law enforcement officers, an opportunity to interact with our community in a positive manner. My involvement with Special Olympics is truly an honor and another chance to uphold the oath I took when I was hired….to protect and serve.”

Special Olympics Athlete Becky Cavanagh of Clarendon Hills adds,” Eating donuts is my favorite part of Cop on a Rooftop. Then I like talking to Detective Robbie and all the nice people who donate.”

A list of all participating locations is at www.soill.org.

 

 

Full Closure of 159th Street at Cicero Avenue

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced

that 159th Street (U.S. 6) will be fully closed between Oak Avenue and Cicero Avenue (Illinois 50), in Oak Forest, beginning, weather permitting, Monday, April 2. The closure is necessary to replace the culvert that carries 159th Street over Midlothian Creek.

Starting April 2, 159th Street will be fully closed at Cicero Avenue until June 2018. A posted detour will direct eastbound 159th Street traffic to go south on Harlem Avenue (Illinois 43), east on 167th Street and north on Cicero Avenue to meet back with 159th Street. Westbound 159th Street traffic should take the reverse route.

The scope of the project includes replacement of the structures that carry 159th Street and Cicero Avenue over Midlothian Creek. The project also consists of intersection improvements, including channelization, traffic signal modernization and drainage work.

The overall project will be completed in Fall 2018.

Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.

Updates on the impacts to traffic are available at www.travelmidwest.com

 

Toys R Us begins liquidation sales

The Toys R Us store in Burbank is among those holding liquidation sales as the company prepares to close or sell all of its holdings in the United States and Canada. (Photo by Bob Bong)

New Jersey-based toy retailer Toys R Us announced last week that it would begin liquidation sales as it prepares to close or sell all of its stores in the United States and Canada after bankruptcy reorganization efforts collapsed.

Shoppers looking for great bargains beware, liquidation sales start slowly. Discounts now are only from 10-20 percent. Customers report rewards points are not being accepted.

The company said gift cards would be honored only until April 15.

Locally, the retailer operates toy and baby stores in Burbank, Orland Park and Joliet. A toy store in Matteson has been holding its liquidation sale for several weeks.

Toys R Us will close all of the stores by June, but they may close earlier if they sell off all remaining inventory.

Workers will not receive any severance pay, the company said in a letter sent to employees.

Toys R Us has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September.

Bertucci’s closed again in Palos Hills, but not for long

Bertucci’s, which reopened as Bertucci’s Mediterranean Taverna in December 2016 after being closed for several months, closed again a few weeks ago.

All traces of the restaurant at 10331 S. Roberts Road in Palos Hills were scrubbed from social media over the weekend. Its Facebook page was taken down, the Facebook page of former manager Paul Kousis disappeared, former owner Klaudia Szulkowska deleted all references to Bertucci’s from her Facebook page and the website has been taken down.

The restaurant added Greek dishes to its menu when it reopened under the new name.

The business had been listed as a turn-key restaurant for sale for $399,000 on March 5 on the Coldwell Banker Commercial property website.

On Monday, Coldwell’s agent for the property Nick DiBrizzi said the restaurant was under contract to sell. He didn’t know when the sale would close.

“The new owners are experienced in running a restaurant,” he said without naming any names.

The building was extensively remodeled before it reopened.
When it reopened, Kousis said it had new floors, some new décor and a gaming room.

Bertucci’s also was popular for its fenced in outdoor patio.
The sale includes the real estate, the 2,000-square-foot restaurant and all fixtures, equipment and furniture.

If you own a new business you want to see featured in a future column, drop me a line at bobbong@hotmail.com