Monthly Archives: October 2016

New Mariano’s Location Sold for $34 Million

In one more of what has been a long run of high-profile sales, a New York investor purchased the Bronzeville building where Mariano’s grocery store recently opened.

Mariano’s opened the new store at Martin Luther King Drive and Pershing Road on October 11 this year. Just about two weeks later the building was sold for $34 million. The sale should not affect the grocery, which has a twenty-year lease with four five-year options to extend the lease. Rent goes up every five years.

Not too long ago another Mariano’s location in north suburban Vernon Hills sold for $36 million.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiative was part of the venture that developed Mariano’s. The Initiative is a non-profit that helps areas around Chicago where development is sorely needed. Other interests behind the development were Chicago firms WBS Equities, Safeway Construction, and Bartlett-based Abbott Land & Investment.

The total cost of the original development is not completely clear, but in 2014, when the CNI announced plans for the project they said it would cost as much as $24 million.

Phil Chess, Co-Founder of Chess Records, Dies at Age 95

2120 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60616. Photo courtesy of Zol87 from Chicago, Illinois, USA
2120 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60616. Photo courtesy of Zol87 from Chicago, Illinois, USA

The founder of one of the most important music labels when it comes to blues died yesterday at the age of 95. Phil Chess founded Chess Records in 1950 with his brother Leonard. The label helped form the strong association of Chicago with the blues of artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and many, many others. The label also recorded the music of early rock ‘n’ roll stars such as Chuck Berry and the rich voice and style of Etta James.

Buddy Guy explained how Chess Records created Chicago as the place in the US where the blues found its home.

“Phil and Leonard Chess were cuttin’ the type of music nobody else was paying attention to — Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy, Jimmy Rogers, I could go on and on — and now you can take a walk down (Chicago’s) State Street today and see a portrait of Muddy that’s 10 stories tall,” Guy, who recorded at Chess, said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “The Chess brothers had a lot to do with that. … I’ll always be grateful for that.”
The first release that came from Chess Records was a Gene Ammons’ cover of “My Foolish Heart.” Their next offering was a song called “Rollin’ Stone” by Muddy Waters. This song became so influential that a rock band from England took the song’s name as its own, and a music journal also borrowed the name for its own use.

Phil Chess was born in Motol, Poland in 1921 as Fiszel Czyz. He changed his name after he moved with his family to the US.

From 1950 until 1969 Phil and his brother Leonard recorded a huge list of America’s best blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll musicians from a two-story building on Michigan Avenue. Keith Richards referred to the location of Chess Records as “hallowed ground.” That is where the Rolling Stones recorded their first Number 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now,” back in 1964.

“Neither played an instrument. Neither had even a bent for music,” author Nadine Cohodas wrote of the Chess brothers in her 2000 book “Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records.” ”But they were entrepreneurs, and through the indigenous sounds of America — blues and its progeny, Jazz, rock and roll, and soul — they found their fortune.”

In 1969 Leonard had a heart attack and died. Phil sold the business and moved to Arizona, where he worked in radio. Leonard was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Both brothers are in the Blues Hall of Fame.

Camping World IPO Raises $250 Million

Ford E-Series RV photographed in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Photo courtesy of Bull-Doser
Ford E-Series RV photographed in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Photo courtesy of Bull-Doser

Benefiting from the aging baby boomers and now-retiring generation Xers, Camping World, the biggest recreational vehicle retailer in the US, has been growing, and is a profitable venture.

Based in Lincolnshire in the Chicago area, Camping World Holdings is run by Marcus Lemonis, a CNBC reality TV show entrepreneur. The company just went public, raising about $250 million in an initial public offering of its stock, mostly to pay off debt.

Now that the baby boomers and generation Xers are either downsizing or wondering what to do with their considerable disposable income, Camping World is an answer for many. Since 2011 the firm opened 13 new locations as well as taking possession of over 30 other locations and integrating them into their company universe.

Just last year the company had revenue amounting to $3.3 billion, over double what they brought in in 2011. Sales at locations that have been open for a year or longer showed an increase of about 13 percent.

Camping World’s corporate and dealership headquarters is in Lincolnshire, in 26,000 square feet of space, with a lease expiring in 2024.

New American Airlines Uniforms Causing Headaches, Literally

An American Airlines Boeing 777-223/ER. Photo courtesy of Sergey Kustov.
An American Airlines Boeing 777-223/ER. Photo courtesy of Sergey Kustov.

Less than two weeks ago American Airlines rolled out, with great amounts of publicity, new uniforms for its employees. But the excitement is fading fast, as the world’s largest air-carrier fields complaints from over 400 flight attendants complaining that the new wardrobe is causing hives, itching, and headaches.

The new design is the first for the many in the company in decades, and the problems are not being taken lightly. The first explanation has been that some of the complaints stem from wool allergies, and the company is giving those sensitive to wool the option to choose polyester fabric. However, there seems to be problems even aside from the issue of wool. Employees wearing purely cotton pieces of the uniform are also complaining of distressing symptoms.

American Airlines had the uniforms tested by Intertek, a London-based product testing firm. In addition, the union that represents AA flight attendants, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, have also taken the step of sending the uniforms for additional testing.

Some other flight attendants complained that the cotton blouses were made of a cotton fabric too sheer to be considered professional, and the company made adjustments.
The new uniforms have been in the development and production stage for three years. The updated uniforms were meant to show the company newly energized in the wake of the merger of US Airways and American.

A spokeswoman for American said the fabrics were tested extensively before they were incorporated into the new product. She said the materials “all ended up testing far better than other fabrics in the industry.”

The uniforms were manufactured in a number of different countries such as Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia. They are made of wool blends, polyester for men’s shirts, and 100 percent cotton for women’s blouses.

Until the health problems associated with the uniforms is straightened out, AA management has requested that flight attendants with health issues caused by the uniforms fill out injury on duty paperwork. No time off has been given in response to the issue.