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🌥 Today's weather: Warmer. Cloudy with a high of 80°.

🛒 Situational awareness: If you see long lines outside Aldi stores this morning, it's just superfans waiting to buy the store's 2023 line of branded clothing.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Todd Bittner!

Today's newsletter is 912 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Ending the tipped minimum wage

Mayor Brandon Johnson serves appetizers in solidarity with Chicago's tipped workers and One Fair Wage advocates during a July 2023 reception. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Servers who work mostly for tips could become a thing of the past in Chicago by decade's end.

Why it matters: Tipped work (some lucrative, lots not) has been a part of our economy for more than 150 years, and ending it could massively shift how Chicagoans pay for services, run businesses and earn a living.

  • Plus, businesses — like restaurants, bars and salons — will probably have to raise prices to meet the new wage demands.

Driving the news: Today, the City Council Committee on Workforce Development is expected to introduce and advance a proposal to phase out the minimum wage for tipped workers (currently $9.48 an hour) over five years.

  • Under the plan, businesses would be required to increase tipped workers' wages by 8% annually until they're paid the same minimum wage as other employees in the city ($15.80).
  • Of note: Workers could still accept additional tips.

Catch up fast: The proposed ordinance was recently revised in a deal hammered out between Mayor Brandon Johnson, alders and the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA).

  • It's part of a nationwide One Fair Wage campaign to end a two-tiered system in which some workers are paid at least minimum wage while others are paid a subminimum wage and expected to make most of their income in tips.
  • The IRA, which had long resisted OFW, agreed to back the proposal Monday night after negotiating a longer phase-in period.

What they're saying: "I can count votes, and I saw the writing on the wall," IRA president Sam Toia tells Axios. "I think they probably could have pushed this through with a two-year phase-in. The five-year phase-in is much easier to bake into [a restaurant's] numbers."

  • Toia expects restaurants will raise menu prices to accommodate the wage changes.

The other side: Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, in a statement called the effort a "breakthrough," saying it serves as "an example of what is possible when workers, advocates and elected leaders with the political courage stand together."

The big picture: If the measure passes, Chicago would follow in the footsteps of California and D.C. The latter is phasing out its tipped minimum wage from $5.35 in May to at least $17 by 2027.

  • Some D.C. restaurants have started adding fees to diners' bills to help cover costs, Axios' Anna Spiegel tells us, which is creating tension over confusing service charges and higher prices.

Keep reading

2. Behind the scenes with the Cubs' organist

Cubs organist John Benedeck at Wrigley. Photo: Jeremiah Paprocki , courtesy of Benedeck

Wrigley Field organist John Benedeck is showing fans how he provides the soundtrack for Chicago Cubs home games.

What's happening: Benedeck and fellow organist Josh Langhoff have been recording their game-time performances and posting them on social media.

Why it matters: The Cubs are a team of beloved traditions, and the organist helps connect fans to the action, including accompanying the singalong of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Flashback: During his first season in 2019, Benedeck recorded himself playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" by the inimitable Rick Astley and posted it to TikTok. It was a viral hit.

  • Since then, posting performances has become part of Benedeck's routine.

We asked Benedeck about the most requested and wackiest song choices he's received over the years:

  • Most requested song he can't play: "Three Blind Mice" after a bad call by the umpire. (He says playing that is a good way to get fired.)
  • Crowd favorites: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty, "As It Was" by Harry Styles, "Down on the Corner" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Keep reading

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🏨 McCormick Place was named one of the nation's top two convention centers in a new ranking. (Wall Street Journal)

🚧 The famous "Asia on Argyle" sign in Uptown is being taken down this weekend to make way for Red Line renovations. No word on whether it will return. (Block Club)

🏒 The Blackhawks announced plans to expand their practice facility on the near West Side. (Tribune)

🐶 Due to the high volume of dogs and cats, Chicago Animal Care and Control is waiving adoption fees through September. Shelters nationwide are experiencing high intake. (CBS and Axios)

4. Radio Ratings: The Lite still shines

Change in Nielsen ratings for top Chicago-area radio stations
Data: Nielsen; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

There's no dimming The Lite, which had another huge month in August.

Driving the news: WLIT-FM has so far dominated 2023, and the station is pulling away from the pack with a stellar 7.7 ratings share.

Strongest surge: WBMX-FM (104.3) has moved back into the top 10. The classic hip-hop station could be taking advantage of the genre's half-century celebrations.

  • Just outside the top 10, WSCR-AM (The Score) is outpacing WGN-AM and WBEZ-FM. This is in part due to broadcasting the Cubs during their summer playoff push.

Toughest tumble: WXRT-FM fell the most but still ranks third in the market.

Go deeper

Stay booked and busy

📅 Upcoming events around the city.

Chicago Sister Cities International Festival at Daley Plaza on Sept. 25-27:

  • Celebrate the diverse traditions of Chicago's international sister cities over three days.
  • Savor authentic dishes crafted by local chefs, each representing a taste from Chicago's sister cities around the world.
  • Shop unique items at the Merchandise Bazaar, directly supporting international artisans.

The Hustle: 70's Classic Disco Party at Subterranean on Sept. 29:

  • Inspired by the music of: Chic, Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer, Roxy Music, ABBA, Bee Gees, Blondie, Boney M, Earth Wind & Fire and many more.
  • Come enjoy all things '70s and disco!

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. Where's Justin? The 606

GIF of a train going by a trail
The Blue Line whizzes by "The 606" trail in Bucktown. GIF: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Too easy. Justin was walking on "The 606" trail that sprawls almost three miles across the Near Northwest Side of Chicago. Specifically, he was under the Blue Line tracks off Milwaukee Avenue.

Congrats to Susan S. and Mark B.S, whose names we pulled from a water bottle.

  • You can pick up your swag at our next event this fall!

6. 📣 Calling all Power Players

Graphic: Axios visuals

🏆 We're celebrating the biggest names in our business community in this year's Axios Chicago Power Players list. Learn more, and submit a nomination.

  • Who should apply: We're looking for business leaders and rising stars who are a force for good in the community and driving the future of Chicago.

We'll release the list later this year and host a snazzy party, too!

More info

Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.

Our picks:

ğŸŽ§ Carrie was nervous when Axios Chicago launched two years ago as she was launching the great City Cast Chicago newsletter and podcast at the same time. Stiff competition, but Chicago is lucky to have both!

❤️ Monica has never had a better (or more fun) job than writing a daily newsletter for you fine folks over the last two years.

😷 Justin is celebrating the second anniversary by fending off a sore throat right before his vacation starts. C'mon, world!