Mariano’s extra effort keeps customers safe and satisfied

By Daniel Patton


Mariano’s is devoting its legendary innovation to a customer wellness effort that goes beyond even today’s new standards for retail excellence. Besides introducing a dozen Safety Protocols, the store will soon begin delivering its signature events straight into shoppers’ homes.

Director of Strategic Brand Development Amanda Puck spent time on a recent afternoon to tell New Eastside News about the plan to keep quality and service at the levels that have helped Mariano’s become a New Eastside favorite.


What is Mariano’s doing to ensure the wellness of employees and customers?

Marianoi’s Take and Bake Pizzas

We’ve always taken the safety of our associates and customers very seriously, but in light of the pandemic, we have upped the measures and precautions. We have increased our cleaning schedule. We are coaching employees. We are working with customers and employees to maintain distancing guidelines. We are installing plexiglass barriers at check-out stands and floor decals that say please wait here so customers know where to stand… Every day there’s a new development because no one was obviously prepared for this anywhere. And the protocols may end up being permanent because we don’t know what the new normal is going to be. Mariano’s is very innovative in general as a retailer, and this is pushing us all to really deliver. It’s the way things have to be done.


What about your in-store classes events?

We are actually bringing that all online starting in April. We’re going to have wine-tastings, chef classes, and “Live at Mariano’s” with musical talent streaming performances and kids concerts.


How has the situation affected Mariano’s daily routine?

Hiring for us is the biggest challenge, because pickup and delivery are more in demand than they’ve ever been before, especially for seniors and people at home. We’re hiring at all stores to increase those operations. We’ve already hired 500 new associates, and we’re looking to hire 500 more. So if anyone’s interested, they can apply online now.


How have Mariano’s employees responded to the new safety protocols?

Our associates are the real heroes — well, obviously, in addition to the first responders handling medical emergencies. But the associates are totally ramping it up. They really feel like they are playing their parts in this whole crisis by helping people. Our staff comes in every day, every night, unloading trucks. We are there around the clock. We have overnight teams replenishing stores. The produce comes in very early morning and, by 6 a.m. the whole store is getting stocked. We’ve all had to make decisions and adapt very quickly. I’m lucky we’re such a close team.


Mariano’s Sushi

How are the customers dealing with the changes?

The customers have been unbelievably supportive! Of course, they’re concerned about food supply and wondering if they are going to get their groceries, and the answer is yes. But as a community we also have to realize that we can’t be hoarding. Mariano’s places limits on waters, bread, dairy, eggs, sanitizer, and toilet paper. We’re also expecting large shipments of toilet paper soon. This may change all of our lives forever and, in some ways, it’s humbling and gratifying to know that we can deliver what our customers need.


What do you intend to do when the stay-at-home order is lifted?

My husband and I miss our restaurant friends and community. We’ve been doing pickup. We just picked up from a place and the manager said I really miss you and come back as soon as you can.


In the meantime, what’s your favorite thing to eat from Mariano’s?

I love Mariano’s fried chicken. I think it’s the best. And I love our Poke Bowls, which are made-to-order. We just launched a new salmon teriyaki bowl and it’s healthy, fresh, and delicious.

Going green with Circuit ridesharing

By Stephanie Racine

With Mayor Lightfoot’s new proposal on taxing solo rideshares, Circuit is a new viable option.

Circuit is a free and green rideshare company that made their debut in Chicago over the summer. New Eastside is a popular stop. The cars resemble shuttles, with each of the six passengers having their own door. The vehicles are fully electric and are hailed just like other rideshare companies, by using an app. Circuit has almost completed its pilot period in downtown Chicago and is winding down in November, but the company has no plans to leave.

“By no means do we want to leave Chicago. We’d love to be there full time,” said Circuit Co-Founder Alexander Esposito.

Circuit is looking for new ad partners for Chicago, but ideally they’d like to operate in Chicago by working with the city itself.

“We’re hoping to secure a longer-term service agreement with the City, local transit agencies or another local organization,” said Esposito.

In San Diego, there are 22 Circuit cars in operation with around 21,000 rides a month. Chicago’s ridesharing numbers are much larger than that, with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning reporting 286,000 rideshare rides per day. 

Esposito said they want to help with downtown congestion by making Circuit easily accessible at parking garages. They also want to help promote public transportation use.

“If more people could get a ride to the train, I think more people would use public transportation,” Esposito said.

According to Co-Founder James Mirras, there was a trend of Circuit customers using the app to get to and from the Washington/Wells CTA station.

“I was visiting family in the suburbs and used Circuit to get from the Metra to an appointment I had,” said Ana Ayrempour.

Ayrempour was surprised at how smooth the process was, especially with it being a free service.

“It was a quick pickup and the driver was nice,” said Ayrempour.

Circuit employs drivers full-time and wants to focus on having local people driving their cars. Esposito thinks this helps bring a more comfortable feel to the experience.

“I’ve seen a driver taking time to teach an older woman how to use the app,” Esposito said.

Circuit was started by Esposito and his partner, James Mirras, as a beach shuttle in the Hamptons in New York, and was originally called The Free Ride. Now, Circuit has grown in different cities—both big and small. South Florida, Texas, California, and the Jersey Shore currently have Circuit.

For more information and to download the app, visit

Glassdoor corporate expands in West Loop

(Published Aug. 1 2019)

Glassdoor, the job listing and corporate review website, is expanding their space in West Loop’s Fulton Market. They recently acquired two floors of the new office building West End at 1327 W. Fulton, which will be finished in summer 2020. The new Glassdoor space will accommodate up to 400 people, according to the Sun-Times.

727 West Madison Opens

The now-tallest building in West Loop opened its doors at the end of June. The luxury apartment building is home to 492 units and 45 stories. The building is currently 70 percent leased and features a penthouse designed by Ethan Allan. Amenities include a sundeck, pool, fitness center, golf-simulator, and co-working spaces.

25th Annual Stay In School Parade Coming in August

Saturday, August 24th, The Chicago Neighbors United and 27th Ward will be joining together for the Stay in School Parade and Picnic. The event will take place at 1501 W. Randolph Street (Union Park) from 10am to 5pm. It will feature food, games, and entertainment. Parents are asked to bring immunization records.

Restaurant Round-Up

Asadito Tacos:

The taqueria at 30 N. Clinton will feature 2,000 margarita options, handmade tortillas, and meat or vegetarian tacos.

St. Clair Supper Club:

The Alinea Group opened St. Clair Supper Club in the basement of Roister, 951 W. Fulton.  The menu is limited and mainly focuses on Prime Rib.

Black Dog Gelato:

Ukranian Village’s popular Black Dog Gelato opened at 1027 W. Lake in early July. Their signature flavors will be available, like Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel, but they will also rotate specialty flavors each month.

Nellcote and RM Champagne closed:

The Element Collective, owners of RM Champagne and Nellcote, announced the selling and closure of both businesses.

Hidden Gems of West Loop

by Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Hi-Five Ramen

112 N Green St

Big ramen fans will already know about the small ramen restaurant inside of Green Street Smoked Meats, but it’s well hidden. The 16-seat counter-style restaurant is walk-ins only, with wait times of upwards two hours. Getting there before their 5 p.m. daily opening will guarantee a bowl, with perhaps a short wait at Green Street’s bar. Their signature Hi-Five Bowl is offered at no spice, half spice, and full spice at $14. Don’t miss their frozen alcoholic drinks.

Blind Barber

948 W Fulton Market

This is a barber shop from the outside and a secret a swanky speakeasy-type bar on the inside. Get a haircut, then a drink. The back room opens at 5 p.m. daily, and group reservations are available upon request. Craft cocktails are on the menu along with bar food, including, several grilled cheese options. Haircuts start at $45.

Tribeca Boutique

1035 W. Madison

Tribeca Boutique handpicks its women’s clothing and accessories from New York and Los Angeles, according to their website. They have new items daily that cover a variety of price points, from $34-$234. Designers include Bailey 44 and David Aubrey jewelry. They regard themselves as a one-stop shop where the perfect outfit or statement piece is waiting.


832 W. Randolph

Attached to Bar Siena, BomboBar is the home of photo-worthy desserts and drinks. Their interesting gelato flavors, such as charcoal Oreo and sweet avocado chip, can be topped with cinnamon toast crunch, Nutella drizzle or more. BomboBar gets its name from the eponymous Bomboloni, small Italian donuts that can be injected with flavors like raspberry at the consumer’s desire. They also offer breakfast sandwiches, a burger and a chicken sandwich, with the option of parmesan fries or truffle potato skins.

New co-working space coming at Hoxton Hotel in October

(Published May 24, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

The Hoxton Hotel’s new co-working space is coming to Chicago in October. Dubbed Working From­_West Loop, the workspace will be the hotel’s first shared workspace in tandem with The Hoxton’s London location. Working From_ will feature some of The Hoxton’s hospitality perks, like a grab-and-go pantry, a wellness space, and $2 barista coffee. Members will also get benefits of discounted rooms and food and this includes optional lunch delivery to their desk.

Membership will be tiered, with starting with daily packages at $30 and topping off with private studios at $700 per desk. The Hoxton workspace will also offer $75 per month for those who only use the offices after 5:30 p.m., known as the Side Hustler. According to a press release, Working From_West Loop will be a two-floor space, with 294 desks, two meeting rooms, and two terraces. The workspace will also have curated events to especially help workers in their endeavors. The Hoxton will still maintain its guest friendly policy for local workers.

“The lobby will still be free to anybody that wishes to use it,” says the press release.

For more information about Working From_West Loop and The Hoxton Chicago, visit

The Wing, an all-woman workspace, opens in West Loop

(Published April 11, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The Wing, a new workspace exclusively for women, opened in West Loop April 11. The space is located at 811 W. Fulton Market St.

The Wing is an international brand headquartered in New York City and this is the company’s first Midwestern space.

The Wing offers shared or private workspaces, phone booths, a café, and also a beauty room and a pump room as well as showers. The space will also play host to dozens of various programs and events for members.

According to their website, The Wing was inspired by women’s clubs movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In two years, the company has raised $117.5 million, and according to a press release, this makes the company one of the fastest growing and highest funded women-led startups.

Membership starts at $185 a month and it’s $250 for all-access. However, the Wing does offer free, two-year memberships for women in industries in which women are typically underrepresented and are underfunded and, according to a press release, “whose work advances industries and communities important to each respective location.”

To find out more, visit them online at

Usher in spring with custom floral arrangements from West Loop vendors

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer
(Published March 18, 2019)

March 20 is the first day of spring—the vernal equinox. Spring evokes thoughts of new life, renewal, and bright colors, and what better way to celebrate that than with flowers? Whether you’re looking for arrangements for a wedding, to send to a friend or to beautify your home, check out these unique florists located in the West Loop.

Asrai Garden, 309 N. Morgan St.

Elizabeth Cronin first opened Asrai Garden in Wicker Park in 1999 and added a second West Loop location 2018. The shop’s floral arrangements are artful, with colors that are a complimentary mix of muted and bold, like something out of a still-life painting. Full-service flowers for weddings and other events as well as deliveries and subscriptions are available. In addition to flowers, the shop sells jewelry, cosmetics and “magical curiosities.”

Call 312-344-1467 or visit to learn more.

Oliver Dogwood Floral Co., 212 N. Sangamon, Loft 1B

Oliver Dogwood offers floral arrangements for weddings, corporate events or “just because.” Owner and designer Tiffany Schimmerling opened the business in the West Loop in 2005, and she prides herself on pleasing clients and making their events extra special. If you make an appointment with Oliver Dogwood Floral Co., you may even meet Ella, the floral studio’s resident English bulldog!

For more information, call 312-479-7694 or go to

Fragrant Design, 316 N. Loomis St.

Fragrant Design provides decor for weddings, corporate and social events. Founder Nadine Horowitz has ten years of experience in the industry and strives to work with clients to execute their vision exactly how they imagine it. Creating this aesthetic can involve additional lighting or other elements to truly complete the design and leave a lasting impression with guests.

Call 312-546-3044 or go online at

Area businesses lend a hand to help Girls Scouts sell cookies

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Girl Scouts are busy selling their famous cookies all over downtown Chicago while partnering with local businesses that provide warm spaces where scouts can sell extra boxes through the end of March.

Troop 20461, from South Loop Elementary, recently sold cookies at Pinstripes in Streeterville on a blustery Saturday morning. Troop co-leader Angelica Prado helped set up, and fourth grade troop members Mia Prado and Katie Boone sold to Pinstripes customers.

“My favorite part of selling Girl Scout cookies is asking people to buy our cookies,” Mia said. “Even if they say no, they know who we are and they can tell more people about the cookies.”

“I like selling Girl Scout cookies because it teaches me to set a goal and try to complete that goal,” Katie added.

“The girls decide on a cookie goal and work to reach that goal,” Katie’s mom and troop co-leader Aimee Boone, said. Troop 20461 set their goal for each girl to sell 100 boxes of cookies.

At the end of cookie season, the troop can decide what to do with their share of the profits, which is about 90 cents per box.

A portion goes to a charitable donation of the troop’s choice. Troop 20461 will be donating to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls this year. They also vote on something fun to do as a troop, as a reward for all the hard work they do during cookie sales.

Girl Scouts will set up booths at select locations until the end of March. Troop 20461 will be back at Pinstripes, 435 E Illinois St., March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On March 2, they will be selling cookies at Sod Room, 1454 S Michigan Ave., from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Inviting them to sell at Sod Room helps shift the ownership back to the child,” Sod Room owner Cynthia Valenciana said. “That’s hard in today’s climate, and there’s so much power in that.”

For a list of cookie booth locations, dates and times, visit the Girl Scouts’ website,, and use the “cookie finder” to locate nearby booths.

Streeterville, Gold Coast residents hear plans for new Pisor project

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In January, Streeterville and Gold Coast residents got a peek at a proposed 22-story, 12-unit building David Pisor plans to build at 12 W. Maple St.

Pisor, a longtime Chicago developer, said the project will look unique and fashionable and offer a private club and an Italian restaurant, among other amenities. He also projected that the building would bring 500 jobs into the area once complete.

The new tower is set to stand 330 feet tall, and each residence will occupy an entire floor, with an expansive penthouse on the top floor. Designed to be slender—just 50 feet wide—on one side, but long on the other, the facade will be lined with vertical plates of glass to give passersby a streamlined view. “Optically, it’s going to be a very special-looking building. It will be something you’ve never seen before,” Pisor said.

Residents raised concerns about the building’s height and whether it would cast shadows on Mariano Park. While Pisor did concede his building will be tall, he said the building will not cast shadows on the park.

“Of all the things that could be put there, this is incredibly beautiful,” he said.

Curfew enforced at Water Tower Place to mitigate youth ‘disruptive behavior’

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In response to a flash mob attack in December on Chicago Avenue in Streeterville, Water Tower Place issued a notice Jan. 3 that it will no longer allow anyone under 18 to be on the property without the presence of a parent or an adult over 21 on Fridays and Saturdays after 4 p.m.

“In an effort to eliminate disruptive behavior by unsupervised youth, we made the difficult decision to implement a curfew program at Water Tower Place,” said Mitch Feldman, senior general manager of Water Tower Place, in a press release. “The PGR program is intended to help provide a safe, peaceful experience at our shopping center. All are welcome at Water Tower Place and at any time. We simply require that during certain weekend hours, families shop together and guests under 18 are accompanied by an adult.”

Police have posted security camera still images of those involved in the flash mob attack across social media. Hopkins said if anyone has any information about the suspects or the attacks, they should call the police at (312) 747-8380 with reference case JB-571818.

Dave and Busters, Watertower deal is dead

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

A plan to open a Dave and Busters sports bar franchise inside Water Tower Place is dead after Streeterville residents expressed outrage at the proposal. The company had already signed a lease with the owners of Water Tower Place, according to Water Tower Place spokespeople.

On Jan. 14, Alderman Brian Hopkins said that due to mounting public pressure, he would not support the company’s plans and that Dave and Busters management agreed to relinquish the lease on  Water Tower Place. Hopkins added that the company had not submitted an application or a plan proposal to the city.

At a community meeting in December 2018, residents complained of the noise they feared Dave and Busters would bring, as well as the potential for rowdy or drunken incidents.

According to a spokesperson for the company that owns Water Tower Place, they are still seeking tenants for the space.

“While disappointed with the outcome, we remain committed to evolving Water Tower Place into an all-encompassing destination offering the best in shopping, dining and entertainment,” said Lindsay Kahn, a senior manager of public relations at Brookfield Properties. “Our community deserves an amazing experience at our shopping center, and we are currently exploring different uses that would fit well in the available space. We look forward to sharing more information soon.

The Oriental Theater gets new name

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Chicago’s Oriental Theatre opened May 8, 1926, and 93 years later it’s undergoing a name change. After Feb. 12 the theatre will be known as the James M. Nederlander Theatre. The transformation includes the construction of a new marquee, Curbed Chicago reported.

The Nederlander family is known for owning theaters across the country, including the CIBC Theatre at 18 W. Monroe St., according to the Chicago Tribune. New York has its own Nederlander Theatre, named by James M. Nederlander to honor his father, David T. Nederlander. James, who died in 2016 at the age of 94, will be honored by his son, organization president James L. Nederlander, by the renaming of the Oriental Theatre at 24 W. Randolph St.

Lyric Opera releases 2019/2020 season lineup

Staff reports

The Lyric Opera of Chicago released their 2019-2020 lineup which includes a mix of drama, comedy and of course music.

The season will highlight a complete Ring cycle in April with package purchases now available to all members.

The Ring, the ambitious series of four epic operas by Richard Wagner, is considered one of the most significant works in the Western canon. The story revolves around a magic ring which grants power to rule the world which characters based loosely on Norse sagas and a German epic poem. It will be conceded by Sir Andrew Davis and directed by David Poutner.

Besides the Ring, the Lyric will also stage Verdi’s Luisa Miller as part of a multi-season showcase of Giuseppe Verdi’s work. Other familiar operas will include The Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly.

Besides the classics, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking will make its Lyric premiere. The opera is based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean with a libretto by Terrence McNally.
This year’s Broadway musical will be the Lyric debut of 42nd Street.

Lyric regulars will note Sondra Radvanovsky will return this season in main stage performances of The Queen of Spaces and the concert The Three Queens.

Another beloved artist, Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel will return to the Lyric stage for the first time in 15 years for a recital.

For more information about any of the performances, visit or call (312) 827-5600.

The top Chicago openings for 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Year will bring new developments to the city. Here are the top new developments residents can look forward to this year.


1.     Actor and New York developer Robert DeNiro is coming to Chicago. DeNiro’s development team is opening the Nobu Hotel in December 2019 along Restaurant Row. In addition to luxury hotel rooms, the property will boast a street level Japanese restaurant and a rooftop lounge.

2.     The Hotel Essex has been working on its Michigan Avenue property for a while now, and it’s expected to open in May of 2019. Located at 800 S. Michigan Ave., across from Grant Park, the hotel will be in the heart of the city and offer 254 rooms.

4.     The Hilton brand will open another Homewood Suites in downtown Chicago in May. This one will be across from Grant Park at 1101 S. Wabash Ave., within easy walking distance to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.


1.     Some of the top names in Korean food are coming to the city. Dave Park and Jennifer Tran operated Hanbun in Westmont until early 2018, and now they’re looking to open Jeong at 1460 W. Chicago Ave. Park offers a modern take on Korean food in a fine-dining space, and Jeong will hold about 40 people.

2. James Beard Award-winning chef Zach Engel’s Israeli restaurant Galit is nothing if not ambitious. Engel will serve up the usual pita and hummus, but he will also feature Midwestern produce to combine the familiar with the foreign against a formal dining background. Galit will open in Lincoln Park at 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.


1.   New for the New Eastside, the Vista Tower project is expected to wrap up this year. At 1,191 feet, the tower has 101 floors and at floor 47, there is an outdoor pool, a reservable kitchen and a wine-tasting room.

2.    Nema, at 1200 S. Indiana Ave., will be completed this year. The building will offer 76 floors and 800 units and stands 887 feet tall and the luxury apartments are sure to make a mark on the South Loop.

3.    In Streeterville, the One Bennett Park building at 514 N Peshtigo Court is already open, but on the top floors of the luxury apartments, the work continues. However, the 70-story building will be completed in 2019 after the final condominiums are finished.

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