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Chicago Companies Archives

Reinventing school lunch

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The discussion over what schools serve for lunch has been heating up amid first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to combat childhood obesity. Meet a pair of local entrepreneurs who are trying to tap into the trend to improve kids' diets.

Chicago Business Today May 27 2010

Corporate Chicago's Euro crisis

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The economic chaos in Europe could wreak havoc on some Chicago companies doing business on the Continent.

Chicago Business Today May 18 2010

Family business

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

What does it take for a family business to survive for more than a century? Find out from C. Cretors & Co., best known for inventing the popcorn machine.

Chicago Business Today May 14 2010
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Tootsie's sweet tax deal

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Tootsie Roll buys sugar at a much lower price than its competitors. Lisa Leiter talks with Crain's Reporter David Sterrett about the Chicago-based candymaker's special foreign trade status and how the closely-held company might finally be up for sale.

Chicago Business Today May 10 2010

The NFL's new brew

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Bud Light will soon become the official beer of the National Football League. MillerCoors lost a bidding war for the sponsorship to Anheuser-Busch. So what will the Chicago-based brewer do with all of those millions of marketing dollars?

Chicago Business Today May 7 2010

Betting on custom golf clubs

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Technology venture capitalist Keith Bank and partners are betting on the latest craze in the golf business: custom clubs. They aim to turn a Chicago-area outfit into a nationwide chain of shops aimed at serious golfers looking for an edge.

Chicago Business Today May 6 2010

Nicor repair plan ripoff?

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Consumer advocates and state officials say Nicor is misleading customers with its gas pipeline repair program.

Chicago Business Today May 5 2010

Merger Impact

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Find out what creation of the world's largest airline would mean for Chicago, O'Hare, frequent fliers and competitors.

Chicago Business Today May 4 2010

Remaking Motorola

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Motorola holds its annual meeting with shareholders, just days after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The question is whether more job cuts are needed to sustain a turnaround at the Schaumburg-based cell phone maker.

Chicago Business Today May 3 2010

The Candyman

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Meet the minds behind your favorite treats and learn how they're making candy play an innovative role for the military.

Chicago Business Today April 29 2010

Chicago's Largest Privately Held Companies

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Our exclusive ranking of the largest privately held companies in Chicago, based on revenue. 

Revenue (in millions)
  1. U.S. Food Service Inc. $18,961.0
  2. Reyes Holdings LLC. $11,750.0
  3. Topco Associates LLC. $10,700.0
  4. CDW Corp. $7,163.0
  5. OSI Corp. $4,800.0 *Crain's estimate
  6. EBY-Brown Co. $4,500.0
  7. Medline Industries Inc. $3,600.0
  8. Ace Hardware Corp. $3,500.0
  9. Walsh Group Ltd. $3,342.1
  10. Tribune Co. $3,103.3
For the full list, head on over to ChicagoBusiness.com.

Looser lending

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Mid-sized companies are finding easier access to credit these days. Competition is heating up among the banks that serve them. Hear from one corporate borrower and the chief executive of ColeTaylor Bank.

Chicago Business Today April 21 2010

Tech IPOs

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Trustwave is among the Chicago-area firms snapping a three-year drought in local technology IPOs. Meet the man who co-founded this fast-growing company and learn what he plans to do with the proceeds from a stock offering.

Chicago Business Today April 20 2010

The new-look legal industry

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The business of running a law firm may have changed for good with the current recession. With companies doing whatever they can to cut costs, legal departments may look a lot different in the future.

Chicago Business Today April 15 2010

McDonald's makeover

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

McDonald's is remodeling thousands of restaurants to mimic a "coffeehouse" feel and re-brand itself as it rolls out more premium products.  We take a look at the strategy behind the fast-food giant's facelift.

Chicago Business Today April 14 2010

Ricketts era begins

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

There are W flags waving in Wrigleyville again as a new Cubs season gets underway today. And new owner, Tom Ricketts, has been busy. We take a look at what changes Cubs fans can expect this year.

Chicago Business Today April 12 2010

United courts U.S. Airways again

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Chicago-based United is in merger talks with U.S. Airways for the third time in a decade. Will the deal finally happen? Crain's John Pletz breaks it down.

Chicago Business Today April 9 2010

Small business wary of health care bill

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Approximately 4 million small businesses stand to gain from the newly passed health care legislation, but the benefits may not be substantial. We sit down with local small-business owners to get their perspective on how the bill will affect their companies.

Chicago Business Today April 6 2010

Health reform for big companies

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Since health care reform passed last month, corporations such as Caterpillar, Deere and Boeing have announced big hits to their earnings. But look closer -- there's much for those companies to like under the new law.

Chicago Business Today April 5 2010

A new morning battle

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

McDonald's has a new competitor in the morning: Subway.  But the sandwich chain might be more of a threat to McDonald's breakfast business than its two biggest morning foes, Burger King and Starbucks.

Chicago Business Today March 31 2010

Corn no longer golden

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Many consumers are avoiding high-fructose corn syrup these days, which is forcing Corn Products International to reassess one of its core businesses. We sit down with CEO Ilene Gordon to discuss new sweeteners, acquisitions and even a possible name change for the 104-year-old company.

Chicago Business Today March 30 2010

Jenner's big year

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Thanks to some high-profile bankruptcy work, Chicago law firm Jenner & Block LLP had a banner 2009. Can it repeat in 2010?

Chicago Business Today March 29 2010

Who's hiring now

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Chicago's unemployment rate has shot up to a 27-year high of 11.6%. Is there any relief in sight? For one industry, there is.

Chicago Business Today March 24 2010

Loop retail scene

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Though the Loop's retail vacancy rate rose last year, experts say the business district's resurgence is still going strong, especially along State Street. And retailers such as Sugar Bliss agree.

Chicago Business Today March 19 2010

Chicago's largest employers

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Crain's has just published its list of the area's 25 largest employers, ranked by number of Chicago-based full-time employees. The list includes information about the number of full time local and worldwide employees and 2009 revenues. 

The five largest local employers are all various levels of government:

  1. U.S. Government
    77,000 total full time local employees
  2. Chicago Public Schools
    43,740 total full time local employees
  3. City of Chicago
    36,242 total full time local employees
  4. State of Illinois
    26,000 total full time local employees
  5. Cook County
    23,416 total full time local employees
Visit ChicagoBusiness.com/lists for the full list.

Liquor barons fight Bud

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Chicago's liquor wholesalers, the Wirtz family among them, are banding together to stop Anheuser-Busch from distributing its own beer in Illinois. Crain's reporter David Sterrett talks with Managing Editor Brandon Copple about the booze battle.

Chicago Business Today March 8 2010

Big 10 expansion plans

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The Big 10 wants to play ball with another school, but which one? We talk to Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany about the game-changing move of adding one more team to the conference.

Chicago Business Today March 3 2010

Hot Dog University

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Vienna Beef's Hot Dog University teaches aspiring hot-dog cart owners lessons in how to dress the perfect dog. The workshops are quickly becoming the company's growth strategy as new students spread the Vienna brand outside Chicago.

Chicago Business Today February 23 2010

Coffee wars heating up?

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Just a year after McDonald's rolled out a new-coffee blitz, two of the burger giant's biggest rivals are teaming up to take it on in the breakfast shift. Last week Burger King announced it would begin selling Seattle's Best coffee in its US restaurants as part of a morning-menu overhaul set to begin this summer. Seattle's Best is owned by Starbucks, the coffee king and a prime target of McDonald's McCafe efforts. How will the BK-Starbucks combo impact McDonald's breakfast business? Crain's reporter David Sterrett talked to Managing Editor Brandon Copple about the coming coffee clash.

Chicago Business Today February 22 2010

Largest Chicago Law Firms

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Crain's Chicago Business just released a directory of Chicago's 25 largest law firms, ranked by a number of attorneys practicing locally. The list includes information about staff by partners' specialties, revenue and numbers of attorneys locally, nationally and globally.

The five largest law firms were:

  1. KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP 
    658 local attorneys - 12/31/09
    681 local attorneys - 12/31/08

  2. SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP        
    561 local attorneys - 12/31/09
    613 local attorneys - 12/31/08

  3. MAYER BROWN LLP         
    453 local attorneys 12/31/09
    483 local attorneys 12/31/08

  4. WINSTON & STRAWN LLP
    368 local attorneys 12/31/09
    435 local attorneys 12/31/08

  5. JENNER & BLOCK LLP
    356 local attorneys 12/31/09
    357 local attorneys 12/31/08

    Visit ChicagoBusiness.com/lists for the full list.

Walgreen takes New York

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The nation's largest drugstore chain is getting larger. Walgreen's takeover of Duane Reade is a rare move for the century-old company but may not be its last, as competition from rivals like CVS and even Target heats up.

Chicago Business Today February 18 2010

Entrepreneurs turn to eBay

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

With lending tight and an ongoing recession, Chicago entrepreneurs are searching for innovative ways to cut costs when launching a business. We take a look at some Chicago small businesses that are using online auction sites as their primary marketplace.

Chicago Business Today February 17 2010

Sears stretches out

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Sears Chairman Edward Lampert's decision to let other merchants sell Die Hard products is the latest in a series of moves away from the Hoffman Estates giant's roots. Mr. Lampert has also been investing heavily in online merchandising. What's Mr. Lampert's end game? Crain's Senior Reporter Monee Fields-White connects the dots.

Chicago Business Today February 16 2010

Theaters go it alone

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Seats are filling up at local theaters as ticket sales take off. But funding is being slashed significantly. We'll tell you how theater companies are coping.

Chicago Business Today February 12 2010

Corona leaves the beach

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Corona's advertising is iconic, but the Mexican import's sales have been slipping the past three years. The importer, Crown Imports, and the agency, Cramer-Krasselt, are hoping this  new campaign gets beer drinkers to return to the beach.

Chicago Business Today Feb 9 2010

Save-a-Lot trumping Jewel

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Supervalu, the parent company of Jewel, is considering opening more Save-A-Lot stores and is scouting sites around Chicago. But the company could cut down on product selection at Jewel to pay for the expansion.

Chicago Business Today February 1 2010

Biggest deals of 2009

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Lists. We all love 'em. Crain's just published its annual list of the biggest deals of 2009. Here's a glimpse at the top five:

1. Abbott Laboratories purchase of Solvay Pharmaceuticals SA for $7.02-billion
2. K+S AG's acquisition of salt seller Morton International Inc.
3. Abbott's purchase of Advanced Medical Optics Inc.
4. Bemis Co.'s pick-up of Alcan Packaging's American food packaging business 
5. SPSS Inc.'s sale to International Business Machine Corp.

The full list includes all deals over $50 million involving Illinois companies for which terms were announced in 2009. Download the free PDF at ChicagoBusiness.com/lists.

Flying Fees

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Desperate for new revenue, airlines are looking to charge passengers more, but not for tickets. Get ready for more fees at the airport, from bag-check charges to ticket agents hawking limo rides. Crain's senior reporter John Pletz shares the inside scoop on the carriers' nickel-and-dime strategy with Managing Editor Brandon Copple.

Chicago Business Today January 29 2010

5 largest grants by Chicago-area foundations

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Crain's just published a directory of approximately 40 local foundations. It includes information about assets, total grants awarded and largest grants made by the foundations, according to data from their most recent fiscal years.

The five largest grants were:

  1. $41.7m to United Jewish Communities from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
  2. $9.3m to Unicef from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
  3. $5.5m to LISC Cook County Housing Preservation from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  4. $3.7m to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution from the Terra Foundation for American Art
  5. $3.3m to the American Red Cross from the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago

For the full directory, go to ChicagoBusiness.com/lists.

The next generation of Melmans

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Richard Melman, founder and owner of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, has long reigned as Chicago's restaurant king. But his sons will be ready to take the crown when he retires.  We go inside the trendy Hub 51 restaurant to ask one of the Melman sons about the secrets to Lettuce's success.

Chicago Business Today January 28 2010

Motorola's Google problems

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Motorola's partnership with Google has proven a success with the launch of the Droid. But success has its headaches. Google's dispute with China, and its pursuit of its own smartphone business, threatens to delay further growth for troubled Motorola.

Chicago Business Today January 25 2010

Small businesses getting social

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Social media sites like Twitter are now part of our culture. Big companies are utilizing these sites to connect with customers, but small businesses are skeptical they can help with sales.

Chicago Business Today January 21 2010

Warren Buffett's crafty move

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Kraft commanded the headlines this week with a sale of its pizza business and a warning from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the company's largest shareholder, about its bid for Cadbury.

Chicago Business Today January 8 2010

Wrigley Field naming rights

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Buried in a deed for the landmark stadium is a letter detailing a naming-rights deal between the Tribune and the Wrigley Family. Will the Ricketts family change the name of the famous ballpark or add a corporate sponsor? Also find out how Tom Ricketts is shuffling the financing  for his deal with the Cubs.

Chicago Business Today January 6, 2010

Big Mac attack

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Rivals take aim at McDonald's in a new round of TV ads. The question is whether McD's wil respond and how much it will cut into its other marketing plans for next year.

Chicago Business Today Dec 22 2009

Groupon rival YouSwoop muscles in on Web discounts

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Chicago entrepreneur Alexander Lurie on Thursday launches YouSwoop.com, a Web site that offers daily discounts to Chicago businesses and entertainment venues.

YouSwoop mirrors the one-deal-per-day model pioneered by Woot.com, and dominated locally by Groupon.com, which offers discount tickets to Chicago events -- provided enough people agree to participate in the deal.

It's a field that's becoming increasingly crowded. Also following on Groupon's heels is WeGiveToGet.com, a group discount site co-founded by Michael Farah, the entrepreneur behind the Chicago-based frozen yogurt chain Berry Chill.

Bistro Margot faces foreclosure

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

The recession continues to dish out challenges for local restaurants, as a French bistro in Old Town faces foreclosure and two small Asian eateries in the Randolph Street restaurant district have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

On the Near North Side, Bistrot Margot at 1437 N. Wells St. owes about $1.5 million on five past-due loans, according to a complaint filed by Associated Bank on Sept. 29 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, on the Near West Side, Izumi Sushi, a sushi and sake bar, and Jim Ching's, a sister restaurant that specializes in Chinese takeout, filed for protection from creditors, with each venture listing assets of $1 million or less against debts of $10 million or less, according to petitions filed Nov. 30 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago.

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Budweiser takes on MillerCoors' Blue Moon

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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MillerCoors LLC and Anheuser-Busch Inbev are taking their age-old rivalry into the fast-growing "craft beer" market.

Chicago-based MillerCoors' Blue Moon wheat beer is one of the hottest-selling craft brews, but Anheuser-Busch is angling to cut in on that growth with its new Bud Light Golden Wheat. Just two months after its debut, the new wheat beer has nearly matched Blue Moon's monthly sales.

Both brewers are looking for a new source of growth as sales of mass-market beers stagnate. Craft beer sales rose 10.1% to $6.3 billion in 2008, while overall beer sales were roughly flat at $101 billion, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Assn. The higher-priced craft beers also yield bigger profits.

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CEO of Chicago's largest private firm unexpectedly resigns

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

In a surprise move, U.S. Foodservice Inc.President and CEO Robert Aiken has resigned, leaving Chicago's largest privately held company and the nation's second-largest food distributor in search of a new leader.

An internal memo to employees dated Thursday said Mr. Aiken had left for "personal reasons" and planned to join a private-equity firm "return to his roots in mergers and acquisitions of smaller companies." He will be working for Chicago-based Bolder Capital LLC.

Mr. Aiken, a lawyer by training, is credited with turning around the Rosemont-based distributor after an accounting scandal rocked the former unit of Dutch supermarket giant Royal Ahold in 2003. He joined the firm in January 2004, and it was acquired in 2007 by two large New York private-equity firms, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and KKR & Co.

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MillerCoors courts convenience stores

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

If MillerCoors wants to win the beer battle against Anheuser Busch, it's going to have to steal some marketshare at the mini-mart.

Chicago Business Today Dec 9 2009

Chicago companies going global

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Fewer than 1 percent of American companies export their goods overseas. But with U.S. consumers scaling back, many companies are looking for foreign markets more than they ever have before.

Chicago Business Today Dec 8 2009

Broker wrong to cover certain expenses: regulators

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Terra Nova Financial LLC, a Chicago-based broker, has been fined $400,000 by federal regulators who say the firm made unauthorized payments to clients, including money to cover one hedge fund manager's visits to a "gentleman's club."

All told, in 2004 and 2005 Terra Nova made $1 million in improper payments to clients in a bid to keep their business, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said in a statement announcing the fine Monday. The regulator also fined and suspended three people at the firm for their roles in the payments.

Terra Nova didn't admit or deny the allegations, but it agreed to hire an independent consultant to review its policies, the statement said.

Des Plaines casino's groundbreaking delayed

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Developer Neil Bluhm has quietly postponed groundbreaking for his new casino in Des Plaines, near O'Hare Airport.

Sources close to the matter say that construction on the 40,000-square-foot, 1,200-gaming-position operation was supposed to be starting right about now but has been put off until late winter --sometime in February, or perhaps March.

The delay is being attributed to the difficulty of arranging financing in an extremely tight credit market, with minority partners in Mr. Bluhm's Midwest Gaming & Entertainment LLC said to have faced especially high obstacles.

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Boeing investors sue over Dreamliner delays

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Boeing Co. is being sued by shareholders who claim the Chicago-based company misled them about problems with its 787 Dreamliner, which has been plagued by setbacks.


The Employees Retirement System of the City of Livonia, Mich., filed suit Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, saying Boeing knew of problems with the 787 for several weeks before it told shareholders but failed to disclose the information in an effort to prop up the stock price.


Boeing also has been sued in federal court in southern Illinois by a Dallas-based law firm. Both suits seek class-action status on behalf of shareholders who bought the stock between May 4 and June 22.

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Playboy shares surge on sale talks

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Playboy Enterprises Inc. shares surged Thursday after a report that it is in talks to sell itself to New York clothing-brand owner Iconix Brand Group Inc. At one point the stock touched $4.75, a jump of nearly 70%.


Iconix, which licenses brands including Danskin and London Fog to retailers, has looked at Playboy's finances, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed people close to the situation. The talks may not result in a deal, the report said.


Playboy officers -- including CEO Scott Flanders, named to the post in June -- have repeatedly cited the bunny brand as one of the company's most valuable assets.

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Kraft's bagel not a 'smart choice,' group says

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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With federal health officials planning to crack down on food makers misleading consumers about health benefits, a public advocacy group raised questions about Kraft Foods Inc.'s labeling of at least one product.

U.S. manufacturers, including Kraft, rolled out their so-called Smart Choices program last year amid growing concern about obesity rates. The green labels appear on the front of boxed foods that meet certain standards for calories per serving and number of servings.

But the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-D.C based health advocacy group, criticized Kraft for putting the Smart Choices logo on its strawberry Bagel-fuls. The group says the bagel stuffed with cream cheese is full of sugar and red dye.

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Pritzkers could raise $988M in Hyatt IPO

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Pritzker family trusts plan to sell 38 million shares for as much as $26 apiece in the planned initial public offering of Hyatt Hotels Corp., according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday.

The Pritzkers could raise as much as $988 million in the IPO by selling the Class A shares, but they will keep firm control of the Chicago-based hotel chain by retaining all of their 81 million supervoting Class B shares, the filing says. A Class A share counts for one vote, while a Class B share counts for 10.

After the offering, Pritzker family interests will own at least a 78.1% voting stake in the company, depending on whether the underwriters of the IPO exercise their option to buy additional shares from the company, the filing says.

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MillerCoors tinkers with bottles

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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MillerCoors LLC is rolling out humorous advertisements and a new bottle design in its push to revive struggling sales of Miller Lite.

A bottle designed with what the beverage maker calls a "taste activator," with grooves in the neck, is intended to enhance Miller Lite's pilsner taste. The new advertisements ask drinkers "Do you love your beer?"

MillerCoors announced Thursday that sales to retailers were down 1.3% for the third quarter, and Miller Lite sales had fallen in mid-single-digit range. Improving Miller Lite sales is a main focus for MillerCoors CEO Leo Kiely.

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2 Sun-Times investors are headline-makers

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Add businessmen Kevin Flynn and William Parrillo Sr. to the list of names who have ponied up as much as $5 million each to invest in the rebirth of the Chicago Sun-Times.

They are part of a team led by Mesirow Financial CEO James Tyree to join in purchasing the newspaper company that's been in bankruptcy for much of the year.

Liquor distributor and hockey-team owner Rocky Wirtz and landfill owner Edward Heil also put cash toward the yet-to-be-finalized sale of Sun-Times Media Group Inc.

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Skokie contractor to pay $25M in fraud case

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Skokie-based defense subcontractor MPC Products Corp. agreed to pay $25 million to settle federal contract fraud claims alleging it falsified labor costs to inflate its profits on military contracts for more than a decade.

MPC, acquired last year by Colorado-based Woodward Governor Co., agreed to plead guilty, accept two years' probation and pay a $2.5-million fine on a felony wire fraud charge, plus an additional $22.5 million to settle a civil complaint originally brought by an MPC pricing analyst.

The Justice Department intervened in that suit, and the whistle-blower will receive $4.5 million of the civil settlement, plus attorney's fees, as part of the agreement.

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$100M fraud trial opens

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Gerald Putnam

Lewis Borsellino, the former Chicago Mercantile Exchange trader who claims Archipelago Holdings Inc. founder Gerald Putnam cheated him out of a stake in the stock-exchange company, is about to tell his story.

In a trial that begins Thursday in Chicago, Mr. Borsellino will take the stand in a nine-year-old case against his former business partner, who later built Archipelago, took the company public and ultimately engineered a merger with the New York Stock Exchange that netted Mr. Putnam tens of millions of dollars.

Mr. Borsellino is seeking as much as $100 million, according to his lawyer, Jon Loevy. A lawyer for Mr. Putnam, Ed Ruff, didn't respond to requests for comment.

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Beanie battle pits Ty vs. Target

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Plush toymaker Ty Inc. has sued Target Corp. for allegedly using its Beanie Babies trademark to sell items that were not made by the Westmont firm.

Ty accuses Target of trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade in a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.

The toymaker wants a federal judge to order Minneapolis-based Target to stop associating the Beanie trademark with non-Ty products and is asking for the profits that the mass merchandiser received through the alleged practice.

Big gulp: slowdown at McDonald's

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Sales growth is dropping sharply at McDonald's Corp., the first sustained slowdown since the burger chain staged one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history seven years ago.

After defying the recession for months, McDonald's started sputtering in the spring as the broader economy perked up. Monthly sales increases at McDonald's restaurants open at least a year averaged 3% over the past three months, less than half the nearly 7% pace of the past two years.

Reporter David Sterrett outlines the plight of McDonald's CEO James Skinner in this week's print edition. 


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Corporate boards rankings: Getting the bang for their buck

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Cutbacks are everywhere, right? Workers face layoffs, and executives are visiting Congress in a Chevy V6 instead of jetting in on a Gulfstream V.

In 2008, however, the boardroom was still a reasonably comfortable place.

Crain's examined the compensation of the non-executive directors at Chicago-area companies and analyzed the three-year shareholder return of those on our list of largest public companies.

Second bidder for Sun-Times?

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Does Jim Tyree have a rival in the pursuit of the Chicago Sun-Times? One of the paper's union bosses says he's heard from another interested investor. But the unnamed suitor hasn't called management, which would seem like a logical move.

Crain's Ann Saphir just broke the story.

Dogfight over Denver; UAL battles Southwest

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

Southwest and United usually stay in their respective corners in Chicago: United leads O'Hare, Southwest dominates Midway.

 But in Denver, the battle for air supremacy is raging, in the form of a price war. That's good for fliers -- but so far, not for United.

Chicago Business Today, Sept. 21, 2009

Landfill baron part of Tyree's Sun Times group

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Financier Jim Tyree has been very hush-hush about who's in the bidding group he's assembled to buy the Sun Times. He's said there are less than 10 rich guys but won't name any names. Word is out that Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz is in there. And now Shia Kapos has learned the identity of another investor: Edward Heil, a real estate investor who owns a lot of dumps.

Much more over at Shia's blog.

PBR chugging along

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Whatever business you're in right now, if you're the cheapest product, you're probably stealing a lot of sales from the high-end competition.

In the beer business, the cheap-o brands are trying to press their advantage with heavy advertising.

But the beer making the biggest move isn't buying the most ads. As AdAge's Jeremy Mullman reports, Pabst Blue Ribbon sales are up 25% this year, more than any beer brand. How come? Because PBR is "ironic downscale chic." Which means that hipsters drink it, as anybody who's set foot in a Wicker Park dive the last 10 years can attest, because they consider it unpopular and drinking it makes them feel nonconformist. But as sales go up, it's getting more popular. Will the hipsters switch to Keystone Light?

Read more about being ironic downscale chic, if you're not already.

Another Chicago bank bites the dust

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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In a move that's been expected for months, federal bank regulators will seize the assets of Corus Bank tonight. But if you're a Corus customer, don't worry. Chicago-based MB Financial is your new bank, and MB is perfectly healthy.


Crain's Steve Daniels just broke the story.

In fact, MB is one of three local lenders gunning to be the city's top hometown bank.

Sun Times CEO: skimpy profits ahead

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Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Just as a local news startup, Chi-Town Daily News, announced it was converting from non-profit to for-profit status, the CEO of a major daily news operation is saying his company won't make much profit at all. Ever.

Sun Times CEO Jeremy Halbreich tells our Ann Saphir that he expects newspapers to throw off profit margins in the 5-7% range. Ann also spoke to another major metro daily CEO, Brian Tierney of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who echoed Halbreich's prediction. Newspapers used to post profit margins well over 20%.

Here's the story.

CME wants $15 mil to renovate HQ

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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CME Group, formerly the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is making vaguely threatening noises about moving its headquarters to New York -- unless City Hall coughs up $15 million to subsidize the renovation of the Chicago Board of Trade building. Here's the story, with lots more detail.

It may sound crazy -- the CME made $715 million in profit last year -- but given the city's history of ponying up for these things, it's not surprising. CME got a huge payout when it merged with the Board of Trade in 2007.

Yesterday we learned that City Hall will pay United Airlines another $10 million to move its operational center downtown. The total payout to United now comes to $26 million. The company will bring 2,500 jobs downtown. that's $14,400 per job.

Big-screen battle plays out in Oakbrook Terrace

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

You may know Redbox from the red vending machines offering DVDs for a dollar. What you may not know is that Redbox is in the middle of a big fight with Hollywood over the availability of new releases. We'll tell you what it's all about and what it means for the future of this fast-growing suburban Chicago-based company.

Chicago Business Today, Sept. 8, 2009

AOL taps Leo Burnett for re-branding

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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AOL is spinning out of Time Warner and needs to reposition itself for the new digital world. So it may come as some surprise that it picked Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett to reinvent the brand. Leo is the venerable (a word we used to describe companies that have been around forever) agency best known for having old-school clients like Coca-Cola and Kellogg (they're venerable too) and for not landing big new accounts.

Is the AOL win a sign of Leo's resurgence? Here's the story.

Dominick's cutting prices too

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Businesses love to tout their strategic moves as innovative and aggressive, even when they're doing exactly what a competitor did months before and are clearly desperate to prop up sales.

Anyway, Dominick's is cutting prices.

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McDonald's takes ribbing from comedians, PETA

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Poor McDonald's. Somebody's always after them. Filmmakers. Authors. Starbucks.

Now, professional smart alecks Andy Dick and Martin Short are mocking the burger giant in a FunnyorDie.com video. In the sketch, Dick plays Ronald McDonald as a bloodthirsty chicken killer. Not very surprising given that the video was produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

You can watch it over at ChicagoBusiness.com.

$1 McMuffins for all

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ChicagoBusiness Insider

Crain's Chicago Business has been the leading source of news and insight on the city's economic scene for over 30 years.

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Fighting sluggish breakfast sales -- despite a massive campaign pushing its new coffee drinks -- McDonald's is gonna put part of its morning menu on sale for a buck.

And while the move could benefit McDonald's -- and will be a godsend for the hungover -- Chicago franchisees probably aren't thrilled.

Here's the story


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