DINING & DRINKING
Uber Eats Settles With City Over Deceptive Practices For $10 Million
The City of Chicago has announced a $10 million settlement with Uber Eats and subsidiary Postmates over illegal business operations regarding fee caps and listing restaurants without their consent. “The settlement brings to closure the City’s two-year investigation into the company’s practice of listing Chicago restaurants on its platforms without their consent, violating the City’s emergency fee cap ordinance, and other advertising-related conduct.” Among the terms: “Uber repaid $3,331,892 to Chicago restaurants that were charged commissions exceeding fifteen-percent, in violation of the City’s emergency fee cap ordinance; Uber will pay $2,250,000 in restitution to Chicago restaurants that were charged commissions in excess of the limits set by the City’s emergency fee cap; Uber will pay $500,000 to Chicago restaurants that Uber listed on its meal delivery platforms without written permission; Uber will provide $2,500,000 in commission waivers to Chicago restaurants that were listed on Uber’s platforms without consent; Uber will pay $1,500,000 to the City to cover the costs and fees of its investigation.” A brief FAQ for restaurants is here. The release is here. The attestation form for restaurants, due by January 29, 2023, is here.
Forte Opens In Symphony Center
Symphony Center will debut Forte, its new restaurant, on December 14. Designed in partnership with Levy, the new restaurant complements the concert experience, with fresh dining options, elevated private events, and updated concert bars that pair with the iconic Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “Forte’s menu features contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh, lively flavors are whipped into mezze-style starters and pastas, while a hearth oven cooks up dishes like focaccia with roasted fig and gorgonzola, and braised lamb shank topped with gremolata.” A selection of global wines is chosen by James Beard-nominated sommelier and Levy Beverage Director Rachael Lowe. Forte will also offer classic cocktails, draft beer, Metric coffee and locally made Paulo gelato. Forte is also available at the corner of Adams and Wabash to locals and visitors who aren’t attending a performance. More here.
Evanston Starbucks One Of Latest To Join Union Drive
Starbucks workers at 519 Main Street in Evanston “filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a union certification election,” reports the Sun-Times. “Workers cited severe understaffing as an issue, which has led to overworked employees, causing some to miss out on legally mandated breaks.”
Fooditor Surveys Tsunami Of Restaurant Closings
“As the pandemic was winding down, I mentioned to someone that I thought we would hit a point, six or twelve months from then, when places that had made it to reopening chose, on second thought, to hang it up,” writes Michael Gebert at Fooditor. “I felt like there would probably be a lot of places that flew low enough to the ground to be able to reopen at first, but would find it wasn’t worth it, or viable, dealing with lack of employees and rising food costs or something after a few months back at full operations. And last week, it seems like my predication was being realized. The reasons why places announced their closing were all different, but I can’t help but feel that there’s just… exhaustion out there.” He surveys Elizabeth, GT Fish & Oyster, Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream, Boiler Room, Munno, Gadabout and the Hot Dog Box. Of the latter, he writes, “it was too expensive for the neighborhood. I took one of my kids there once and we spent about $40 on four (admittedly fancy) hot dogs. Just south of there on Cicero, Jeff’s Red Hots sells a perfectly good standard dog for under $5… Maybe it could have made it in a more receptive, and less price-sensitive, neighborhood—and also if its dogs had had the kind of variety that Hot Doug’s had.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Chicago Empty-Nester Takes In Baby Squirrel; Son Raises Camera
“During the summer of 2020, I returned home to Chicago during a break from my studies at the Lodz Film School in Poland. When I got there, my mother quietly walked me into a room where she gently pulled a strange, hairless creature out of a shoe box. It looked as if it had plummeted to earth from another planet.” The latest New York Times Op-Doc, “My Dudus,” by He’s sleeping,’ she whispered as she opened the box. A tiny head peeked out from the mountain of towels, blankets and a homemade heating pad made out of a used white sock and rice. ‘What is that?’ I asked. I squinted my eyes as I gently moved the blanket to expose the animal’s torso. ‘Is that a squirrel?’ I looked over at her, and even though it was dark, her beaming smile lit up the room. ‘Yes,’ she nodded.”
“Sesame Street”‘s Bob McGrath Was Ninety
“Bob McGrath, the Illinois native who was one of the original stars of ‘Sesame Street,'” has died, reports the Sun-Times. “McGrath interacted with humans and Muppets… for forty-five seasons, until he was let go in 2016…McGrath was a frequent Chicago area visitor on his performing tours, singing popular tunes from the show including ‘Rubber Duckie,’ ‘People in Your Neighborhood,’ ‘Bein’ Green,’ ‘Sing, Sing a Song’ and the iconic theme song.”
Bookends & Beginnings Bookstore Seeks Help
“After eight-and-a-half years in its iconic location down a humble alley in downtown Evanston, Bookends & Beginnings bookstore must relocate,” writes the bookstore in an update to customers. “This summer, a new landlord more than doubled our rent, making our old home unaffordable for us. We tried for months to negotiate a lower rate, to no avail. We need to be out of our current space by the end of January 2023. We were not expecting to be in this situation and have no reserve funds that we can use to pay our projected costs for moving and building out the new space. And time is of the essence: The work must begin now in order for us to be ready to move in January. We appealed to the City of Evanston for help, hopeful that we would be eligible for a grant from the $43 million in American Rescue Plan funding that is supposed to help small businesses and municipalities recover from the economic ravages of the pandemic. The City declared us ineligible for those funds. The Economic Development Committee did recommend allocating us $83,000 from other sources, but this allocation will have to be approved by the City Council at its meeting on December 12. And it represents only about twenty-percent of our total project costs. Because we only have about six weeks to make this move and have to initiate work in the new space ASAP, we need funding now.” More here.
What Happens Worldwide If Twitter Detonates?
“If we judge Twitter’s influence by its active users, we underestimate it massively,” reports WIRED.”It has no peer as a forge of public opinion. In political analysis, publishing, public health, foreign policy, economics, history, the study of race, even in business and finance, Twitter has come to drive who gets quoted in the press. Who opines on TV. Who gets a podcast. In foreign affairs and political analysis, especially, it often determines whom we consider an authority. Almost every academic and journalist I know has come to read Twitter, even if they don’t have accounts. It’s easy to calculate Twitter’s economic value as a company: That’s underpinned by reported ad revenue, $4.51 billion last year (and plummeting fast). But there’s a far, far vaster realm beyond that, what an economist might call the secondary value of Twitter. That encompasses the cash people make out of connections or prestige they develop on Twitter, but also the intangible wealth now vested in its communities and in the sense it offers to people of having a place in the world. That human currency cannot just be ported over, unchanged, to Mastodon. There are whole nations whose political discourse occurs mainly on Twitter.”
Emergency responders around the world have also relied on the service: “Government agencies and organizations like the Red Cross have built the platform into operating procedures for responding to natural disasters like cyclones or earthquakes, or manmade ones like war… Emergency managers and humanitarian groups worry the changes to Twitter could hinder their lifesaving work. ‘I don’t think Twitter has looked at the second, third, fourth tier effects of what they do—and that’s what we do,’ says Kate Hutton, the communications coordinator at the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.”
Ye Reddit Page Transformed Into Taylor Swift Site
Following the former Kanye West’s appearance on “Infowars,” “where he continued to spew anti-Semitic rhetoric and deliberately gave praise to Adolf Hitler and Nazis, fans on the artist’s r/Kanye Reddit page, which has more than 700,000 subscribers, have turned the subreddit into a Taylor Swift appreciation page,” reports Variety. “Its spearheading post declared in its title: ‘This is now a Taylor Swift Subreddit. We had a good run fellas,’ and has about 33,000 upvotes in agreement.” (Other posts have highlighted events of the Holocaust.)
League of Chicago Theatres Announces 2023 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship
The League of Chicago Theatres announces the 2023 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship, an annual grant awarded to a Black theater artist to fund a residency or collaboration. This year, the award will go to an “Artivist”–an individual who combines art with activism. Now in its third year, the fellowship offers early to mid-career Black theater artists the opportunity to work with a Chicago-based nonprofit organization in a supportive environment. The fellowship provides the Artist with a grant of $20,000 and the partner organization receives $7,500 to support their work with the artist. The fellowship is administered by the League of Chicago Theatres and funded by the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust. Applications are due January 27, 2023; eligibility requirements are here.
Playwright Lynn Nottage On “Sustaining The Complexity”
Chicago theater stalwart Lynn Nottage (“Clyde’s,” “Ruined,” “Sweat”) is “the most produced playwright of the 2022-23 season (tied with Lauren Gunderson with twenty-four productions). And ‘Clyde’s’ … is the most produced play of the season,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Charles McNulty. And “after the lengthy pandemic pause, she had three productions running simultaneously in New York this year.” Said Nottage, “I think the mindfulness and yoga that I practiced during the pandemic really prepared me to deal with juggling three big shows without feeling overwhelmed… I was able to compartmentalize and stay focused… The thing that I often think about is the way my own practice has been colonized… And how I am still wrestling with that, because of the institutions that I went to and the stages that cultivated my work and the audiences that are there. So it’s always this battle to reach towards your true authentic self.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Hindman Auctions Launches New Chicago Headquarters
Hindman today opens a new headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop. After celebrating forty years as Chicago’s leading auction house with more than ten of those at 1338 West Lake, Hindman enters its fifth decade at 1550 West Carroll. The opening coincides with the first live auction to be presented at the building, Eugène Atget photographs sold by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The location includes a new full-service saleroom and preview galleries within The Auxiliary, a historic building which housed the former Benrus Watch Company. Established with just three employees on West Ohio, the firm has expanded to include 175 people across sixteen cities, with expertise spanning fifty-two collecting categories including fine art, luxury goods, and furniture and decorative arts. Hindman presents more than 140 auctions each year. The opening of the new Chicago headquarters is part of significant expansion, with the firm recently announcing that it will soon launch a full-service auction room and exhibition space in New York City, plus additional offices in Boston and Miami. More here.
RealID Requirement For Air Travel Delayed Again
“Americans will have until May 2025 to obtain a Real ID driver’s license or identification card, the latest of several delays,” reports the Washington Post. “Postponing the enforcement of the last phase of the Real ID Act will give motor vehicle departments across the country more time to process the new credentials. Some states have reported that progress on the Real ID program was hindered by the pandemic.”
The Inner-City Muslim Action Network At Twenty-Five
The Inner-City Muslim Action Network, or IMAN, a nonprofit organization that runs social uplift programs on the South Side’s 63rd Street corridor, is turning twenty-five, reports Darcel Rockett at the Trib. The celebration “included the opening of its new art space, IMANifest Arts Studio, with the exhibit ‘The People Made This: A Look at IMAN’s Twenty-Five Years.’ The art exhibit featured [work] showcasing the work that IMAN has provided through the years with a focus on wellness, from housing, employment, mental and behavioral health/primary health care, to healthy foods with the Go Green Community Fresh Market (1208 West 63rd). IMAN provides social services to Chicago’s marginalized communities, including job training and housing for former inmates and high-risk youth. The word ‘iman’ means faith in Arabic… Next up for IMAN: Dozens more units of housing and building out thousands of square feet in a shuttered school near the Go Green Market to expand IMAN’s health care options. Groundbreaking on the school redevelopment begins next year with a goal of being completed in 2028.” More on the exhibit, which runs through May, here.
Howard Brown Layoffs Protested
“Workers at Howard Brown Health are fighting to prevent dozens of job cuts at the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ-affirming health care center,” reports Block Club Chicago. “The group is pushing for no layoffs, a fair contract and access to the health center’s financial statements. They also want to see more providers hired to help understaffed clinics better care for thousands of patients… The layoffs were proposed as a voluntary separation program during a bargaining session between Howard Brown Health leaders and the members of the organization’s new union, Howard Brown Health Workers United, which formed in August… The union did not accept the terms of the voluntary separation program so the deal was offered to thirty-six non-union employees who have until [today] to accept the agreement.”
What’s At Stake With Legislation Against A Rail Strike?
“In their very successful effort to raise their profits and payouts to investors, the seven major freight railroads have all but eliminated their competition, downsized their workforces to reduce the share of revenues going to wages, shifted to just-in-time (or sometimes late) delivery, reduced the number of trips (and personnel) by increasing the number of freight cars that the engines haul, and wrapped all of this into a business model called precision scheduled railroading, or ‘PSR,'” writes Harold Meyerson in a cogent explainer at the American Prospect. “This reduction of operating expenses was imposed on them (not that they resisted) by such Wall Street financiers as hedge fund operator Bill Ackman, who believe that you can never shower too much revenue on your shareholders. Precision scheduled railroading, as applied, means no excess engines, no track not under constant use, no downtime in the yards, no employees not busy driving the trains or maintaining the tracks, and never have three one-mile-long trains when one three-mile-long train can be assembled… The biggest rail companies—just four of them control the lion’s share of the industry, with CSX and Norfolk Southern having a duopoly east of Chicago and Union Pacific and BNSF having a duopoly to Chicago’s west—don’t really face any serious competition and are accordingly free to set their rates as they wish.”
And from PBS: “Rail workers say quality-of-life concerns not resolved under deal imposed by Congress.” Reports VICE: “Workers were not threatening to shut down the nation’s rail system over a few more sick days. They were sounding the alarm on a broken system that affects us all… Over the last eleven months the railroads have used the pandemic to further reduce manpower at the expense of safety. Carmen are fatigued yet expected to maintain the standard of unrealistic inspection policies as if fully staffed.” The U. S. Chamber of Commerce notes: “Congress has intervened eighteen times in rail labor negotiations to prevent a strike.”
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