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.

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.

Raffy’s opens second sweet shop in Frankfort’s Trolley Barn

Raffy’s has opened a second location in Frankfort’s Trolley Barn shopping center.

Raffy’s Candy Store, which opened in late 2015 on U.S. 30 in New Lenox, has opened a second location in the Trolley Barn shopping center in historic downtown Frankfort.

Dave Rafalski, who co-owns the sweet shop with his wife, Pam, said the new location opened May 30 at 21 White St.

“We had no intention to open a second location,” Rafalski said. “But we were encouraged by a lot of people to do so. Members of the chamber were eager for us to come into town.”

The new Raffy’s is pretty much a carbon copy of the New Lenox location, Rafalski said.

“The floor plan is a little different,” he said. “And there’s a nice patio at the new location.”

And except for the lack of soft-serve ice cream in Frankfort, the store features the same sweet treats as the New Lenox location.

There’s a wide selection of candy including premium chocolate, Albanese Gummy Bears from Indiana and what Rafalski calls nostalgic candy, popcorn and nuts. Frankfort also will have hard-packed ice cream by the original Plush Horse ice cream parlor in Palos Park.

Hours at the Frankfort location will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

First Midwest acquires Northern States

First Midwest Bancorp Inc., the parent of First Midwest Bank, announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Northern States Financial Corp., the holding company for NorStates Bank, based in Waukegan.

NorStates Bank operates eight offices in Lake County and has approximately $500 million in total assets, $400 million in deposits, of which 90 percent are core deposits, and $320 million in loans.

“We are very excited to welcome NorStates Bank to First Midwest and build on the strong relationships that NorStates has with its customers,” Michael L. Scudder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Midwest, said in a release. “This combination continues our expansion in the greater Chicagoland area and enhances our presence in Lake County where we have long-standing, deep roots.”

“We are extremely pleased to partner with First Midwest,” Scott M. Yelvington, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern States, said. “Like First Midwest, we have a strong commitment to relationship banking, personalized customer service and involvement in the communities we serve. We greatly look forward to offering our customers the broader array of financial products and services that First Midwest provides.”

Based upon the closing price of First Midwest’s common stock on June 5, on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the overall transaction is valued at approximately $91 million. The acquisition is to close in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Ryerson to acquire Central Steel & Wire

Ryerson Holding Corp. announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Central Steel & Wire for $140 million.

Central Steel has its main plant and offices near 51st Street and Francisco in the Gage Park community.

The company was founded in 1909. It operates six plants, employs about 900 people and has annual sales of about $600 million. It produces bar, tube, plate and sheet products. Last year, it posted a $14 million loss.

Central Steel will continue under that brand name after the closing of the deal, which is expected to come in the third quarter this year.

Loop-based metal processor and distributor Ryerson is one of the 60 largest companies in the Chicago area, with $3.36 billion in revenue last year.

Central Steel CEO Steve Fuhrman said in a statement that “the leverage this merger creates will benefit our diverse customer base, grow our respected supplier relationships and provide opportunity for further development of our loyal employees.”

Eddie Lehner, Ryerson’s president and CEO, had nothing but praise for Central Steel.

“Since 1909, Central Steel & Wire has cultivated a loyal customer following as an industry standard bearer of customer service,” he said. “Ryerson’s acquisition of Central Steel & Wire into the Ryerson family of highly valued industrial metal distribution and processing companies takes Ryerson’s ability to provide great customer experiences to another level. We are excited to elevate the best of Central Steel & Wire while leveraging Ryerson’s intelligently networked service centers to infuse Central Steel & Wire’s and Ryerson’s customers with a broader and deeper array of products with comprehensive processing capabilities. By supporting and further developing the Central Steel & Wire brand in the marketplace to existing and new customers, Ryerson continues along a smart growth trajectory that we expect to add meaningfully to shareholder value in the years to come.”

Completion of the transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies and Central Steel & Wire shareholders signed a written consent approving the merger agreement and the transaction.

The decision to sell was an about face for Central Steel, which waged a fierce court fight three years ago for the right to reject a more lucrative offer from Canadian manufacturer and distributor Samuel Son & Co.

American Eagle has landed at Orland Square

American Eagle has completed the remodel of its Orland Square Mall store, which reopened late last month at the Orland Park mall. The store is located in the upper level Macy’s wing of the mall.

Marketing group holds grand opening

WDB Marketing, a one-stop marketing and promotions shop that offers graphic design, print services, web design, marketing and promotional strategies, held its grand opening June 8 at its new location at 1007 E. 162nd St. in South Holland.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. For information, call 708-527-3090. The website in www.wdbmarketing.com.

Ooh Wee Burger coming to River Oaks

Ooh Wee Sweet Tea and Ooh Wee Cereal and Candy Bar is expanding its presence at the River Oaks Center food court.

Ooh Wee Burger Bar and Grill is coming this summer to the mall in Calumet City.

If you see a new business in town or wonder what happened to an old favorite, drop me a line at bobbong@hotmail.com. You can track business openings and closings at http://bobbongonbusiness.com/

Joey’s Red Hots to open Monday in Morgan Park

Good news for Southwest Side fans of Joey’s Red Hots, a popular hot dog stand in Orland Park.

The eatery will open its second location next week in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood.

Joey’s will open Monday, May 7, at 11500 S. Western Ave. in the former Snappers Fish location across the street from the Morgan Park Sports Center.

The new location will feature the same menu as Orland Park, which includes Vienna hot dogs, burgers, other sandwiches and salads.

The new location will have outdoor seating on picnic tables, as well as offer catering, delivery and even a food truck.

The restaurant’s first location has been open for more than three years at 17400 S. Wolf Road in Orland Park.

Hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

A message to owner Anthony Nardo was not returned.

City Barbecue to open Monday in Orland Park

In Orland Park, a new barbecue joint called City Barbecue will open Monday and will hold its rib bone cutting grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at 14301 S. LaGrange Road.

It’s the second location in the Chicago area and its 36th location across the country. The first area location opened in October in Berwyn and four additional Chicago area sites are scheduled to open this year in Downers Grove, Deerfield, Park Ridge and Vernon Hills. All restaurants are company-owned.

The Orland Park location will be 4,000 square feet of ‘BBQ-chic’ décor utilizing modern fixtures with weathered barn wood surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, according to a release. Indoor seating will allow for approximately 90 people, and the outdoor patio will seat another 40. Three state-of-the-art smokers will run 24 hours a day, seven days week to ensure an endless supply of delicious barbeque.

“Aside from offering competition quality barbeque and backyard hospitality, one of our core values is to serve our community,” Clint Umphrey, Market Leader from City Barbeque, said in the release. “We at City Barbeque are committed to partnering with local charities and food rescues to support our friends and neighbors and give back to those we serve.”

The Orland Park location a partner with All God’s People, a local ministry serving the homeless of Chicago, to donate surplus food from the restaurant to feed those in need. City Barbeque also is committed to hosting weekly fundraisers and has partnered with a different local charity every day of their opening week in Orland Park. Each organization will receive 25 percent of the sales when a guest mentions the organization upon placing an order.

Regular hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The Ohio-based company opened its first location in 1999.

McAlister’s Deli opens in Orland Park

McAlister’s Deli is now open at 143rd Street and LaGrange Road in Orland Park. (Photo by Bob Bong)

 

McAlister’s Deli has opened its first south suburban location in Orland Park’s new Gateway Plaza at 143rd Street and LaGrange Road.

The restaurant opened Monday at 14309 S. LaGrange Road.

Orland is the second location for a McAlister’s Deli operated by The Hari Group, a franchise development company based in Naperville. The first one is in Naperville.

A third McAlister’s Deli location is planned for U.S. 30 and Wolf Road in Mokena.

“We’re very excited to be opening in Orland Park,” said Ravi Patel, one of the co-owners. “It’s a great location.”

Patel said McAlister’s has a large variety of sandwiches, salads and soups. It also has a menu item called Spuds, which is a large baked potato that can topped with a variety of items from black olives and jalapenos to grilled chicken and black angus roast beef.

McAlister’s is also famous for its iced tea, which can be regular or sweet or a combination. You can also get it mixed with lemonade.

Patel said McAlister’s will offer dine-in, carryout and catering.
“Eventually, we will have outdoor seating,” he said.

Patel said hiring is still underway for the Orland location, which will employ 50-60 when it opens.

The company started in 1989 in an old service station that had been turned into a 1950’s diner by a film crew. It now has more than 400 locations in 28 states.

There are 18 restaurants in Illinois and two in northwest Indiana in Schererville and Merrillville.

The 10,500-square-foot Gateway Plaza was developed on the former site of Steagerman’s Union 76 gas station and is kitty-corner from the University of Chicago Medical Center. A Visionworks optical shop is already open at the site. A City Barbecue restaurant is scheduled to open in the same development later this month.

Miller’s Ale House now open in Orland Park

Miller’s Ale House held its ribbon cutting and grand opening Monday in Orland Park. (Photo courtesy of Orland Area Chamber of Commerce)

Florida-based Miller’s Ale House opened Monday at 15630 S. LaGrange Road in Orland Park.

The chain bills itself as a restaurant and sports bar. The menu features boneless chicken zingers and sauces, steaks, pasta, salads, sandwiches, desserts and appetizers. The full-service bar features specialty cocktails, wine and more than 75 selections of local craft, seasonal and domestic beers.

It’s the second south suburban location for the chain, which also operates a location in an outlot at Chicago Ridge Mall in Chicago Ridge. There are seven in Illinois.

The chain now has 83 locations in 12 states and plans to open eight to 10 new spots each year.

Hours in Orland Park are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

For information, call 708-292-0335.

Miller’s is next to Chuy’s Tex-Mex, which opened Tuesday. Both businesses are on the former site of an Army Nike missile base.

Chuy’s Tex-Mex to open next week in Orland Park

Texas-based Chuy’s, a restaurant that features Tex-Mex fare, is scheduled to open its first south suburban location next week in Orland Park.

Chuy’s is expected to open at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 27,  at 15610 S. LaGrange Road, in the development at the former Army 

Nike missile base site. Other locations are in Schaumburg and Warrenville.

The first 50 people in line when doors open at 11 a.m. will be awarded a year’s worth of “Free Chuy’s for Two” gift certificates, redeemable at the Orland Park location. The complimentary dinner includes 12 “dinner for two” certificates, redeemable each month from March 27, 2018, through March 27, 2019. The free dinner features an appetizer plate, two entrees and a dessert.

“Our third Chicagoland restaurant opening is cause for great celebration, so we decided to do something fun to thank the community for welcoming us with open arms,” Jose Salazar, local owner/operator of Chuy’s Orland Park, said in a release. “We hope to be a favorite Tex-Mex destination in Orland Park and throughout Chicagoland for a long time to come.”

Chuy’s Orland Park will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. On weekdays, the restaurant will also feature happy hour drink specials and its Fully-Loaded Nacho Car from 4-7 p.m.

Chuy’s was founded in 1982 in Austin, Texas. The chain offers family recipes from south Texas, New Mexico and Mexican border towns with options including homemade tortillas, fresh guacamole, hand-pulled roasted chicken, margaritas with fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 10 handcrafted signature sauces.

The Orland restaurant will be the chain’s 93rd location.

For more information, visit www.chuy’s.com or check out Chuy’s Orland Park on Facebook.

Local JCPenney stores not on closing list

Seven Illinois locations are among 138 JCPenney stores closing nationwide, the retailer announced on Friday.

Last month, the Texas-based company announced it was closing a large number of brick-and-mortar stores and several distribution centers across the country to better compete in a changing marketplace where online shopping has become common.

“We are pleased with the double digit growth of jcpenney.com and how leveraging our brick and mortar locations is enabling us to offset the last-mile delivery cost,” the company said in a statement in February.

“We believe closing stores will also allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers,” CEO Marvin R. Ellison said.

The Illinois closings include JCPenney stores at the following shopping centers, plus a freestanding location in Macomb:

  • Centerpointe of Woodridge, Woodridge
  • Eastland Mall, Bloomington
  • Fulton Square, Canton
  • Village Square Mall, Effingham
  • Peru Mall, Peru
  • Northland Mall, Sterling

A full timetable for closings has not been released, but JCPenney has said liquidation will begin April 17 and most stores will shut their doors in June.

The closings will affect a reported 5,000 jobs nationwide.

“JCPenney is in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the Company for esteemed leaders,” the company said Friday in a news release. “Additionally, JCPenney will provide outplacement support services for those eligible associates who will be leaving the Company.”

The closings will not affect stores in Calumet City, Bourbonnais, Orland Park, North Riverside, Joliet, Matteson, Mokena and Ford City Mall.