August 04, 2022
Happy Thursday! On this day in 1830, a surveyor was hired to map Chicago. At the time, it didn't even have 100 inhabitants.
🌩 Today's weather: Cooling off. High of 81 with a chance of thunderstorms.
Today's newsletter is 915 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: How to get on the shelves
Every quarter, Mariano's top bosses travel downtown from their suburban headquarters to listen to pitches from local businesses trying to get on their shelves.
Why it matters: Mariano's serves hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and is a gateway for consumers to buy from neighborhood businesses.
State of play: Called "What's Next at Mariano's," the reality-TV-like event gives about 20 locals roughly 15 minutes each to pitch their product and field questions from a panel of executives.
- While Axios was there, entrepreneurs hocked everything from a craft wine/beer hybrid and sippable plant-based soups to tasty kombuchas.
What they're saying: "Shoppers are always looking for local options," Mariano's division president Michael Marx tells Axios.
Be smart: Just because you have a great local product doesn't mean Mariano's will necessarily carry it right away.
- "We have to look at where they are with capacity and the process of production to make sure they can deliver the product," Marx says. "The pitch is not the end. If we select your product, it's just the beginning."
Zoom in: That isn't lost on Moor's Brewing, a local Black-owned brewery.
- "Having Moor's Beer in Mariano's would be a tremendous accomplishment for us," Moor's co-owner Jamhal Johnson tells Axios. "We are prepared to produce to accommodate the demand."
By the numbers: Mariano's parent company, Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., holds 6.5% of the city's grocery store market share.
- There are 45 Mariano's stores in Illinois alone.
What's next: The company says it will notify local businesses by next week if it intends to move forward with their product lines.
2. South Side newspapers merge
The Hyde Park Herald merged with nonprofit South Side Weekly last week in an effort to keep the 140-year-old community newspaper alive.
- The Herald, "standing on its own, like all newspapers, was losing revenue and losing circulation," longtime owner Bruce Sagan told South Side Weekly.
Why it matters: The merger follows other recent nonprofit transitions in local media. The Sun-Times joined forces with WBEZ last year, and The Reader shifted to nonprofit status in April.
Context: The Hyde Park Herald was founded in 1882 and purchased by then-City News overnight editor Bruce Sagan for $2,500 in 1951.
- Sagan, 92, later made his fortune by owning and selling the Southtown Economist (now the Daily Southtown) and other local papers. But he held on to the Herald until last week, when he transferred ownership to South Side Weekly's nonprofit entity.
- The papers had already been sharing offices for two years.
What they're saying: "The merger allows us to both reduce operating costs and explore new revenue opportunities for the Herald," South Side Weekly managing director Jason Schumer tells Axios, referring to funding like grants and donations.
3. Tips and hot links
The man accused in the Highland Park parade shooting has pleaded not guilty. (Axios)
⚖️ State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office has seen 235 attorneys and staff leave over the past year. (NBC 5)
🤔 The city's new anti-violence department, the Community Safety Coordination Center, may not be living up to its mission. (BGA)
🚨 A Lollapalooza security guard has been arrested for allegedly faking a mass shooting threat. She is due back in court Monday. (ABC7)
4. Food Fight: Outdoor dining
Big Star recently announced an intriguing new West Town patio restaurant. Called Big Star Mariscos, it's set to open this fall in the old Mahoney's spot.
- That inspired us to throw down our favorite outdoor dining patios.
- One caveat: We're limiting this Food Fight to sidewalk and yard patios.
🥧 Justin's pick: Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits. The outdoor space behind the delicious pie and biscuit shop in Logan Square is a go-to, even without the famous tree that was struck by lightning years ago.
- Bang Bang owner Michael Ciapciak calls it "the pie garden" and says it seats up to 150 people.
- It's a great place to sit down and savor the Chocolate Cake Shake pie, which is inspired by Portillo's, and is the backdrop for the headshot I used whenever Rob Feder wanted one.
🇨🇺 Monica's pick: I'm tempted to say Piccolo Sogno, but most of our Best Day Ever subjects have already called dibs. So I'll go with the side-street patio at Mima's Taste of Cuba in North Center.
- Our family recently enjoyed a lovely post-rabbit-funeral brunch there.
- Between the tropical music, comfy couches and chairs, bright artwork, delicious Cuban sandwiches, jibaritos, and refreshing passionfruit drinks, we were transported to another place.
📬 Reply with your favorite dining patios on sidewalks, in yards or next to the restaurant. Waterside and rooftop spots will come later!
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5. Best of Chicago TV: "Good Times" vs. "ER"
It's down to a stalwart '70s sitcom versus a popular '90s procedural for the best Chicago TV show of all time.
- "ER" narrowly defeated "The Bob Newhart Show" by a handful of votes, while "Good Times" wiped the floor with "Married … With Children."
The locations: "Good Times" was set in Cabrini-Green.
- "ER" was set at fictional County Hospital, which could have been Cook County Hospital.
The stars: "Good Times" featured Jimmie Walker, John Amos, Esther Rolle and a young Janet Jackson.
- "ER" gave us George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies and even John Stamos later in the run.
The city: "ER" shot all over Chicago, including several scenes on the CTA.
- "Good Times" was a studio sitcom, but the intro serves as a time capsule for the city in the '70s.
The theme songs: Both are memorable, but "Good Times" might have the edge — try getting this out of your head after listening.
🗳 Are you ready? Let the final voting begin!
🤔 Monica can't decide which suburban fests to attend this weekend — Evanston's Out of Space, Naperville's Irish Fest and Festa Italiana, Wheaton's Brew & Seltzer Fest, or Lisle's Destination Asia Festival.
🤒 Justin isn't happy to say that this strain of COVID is like nothing he'd ever felt in his life. He's fine, but woah.
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