Monday, December 21, 2009

Last minute independent holiday shopping? You have plenty of time & options!

Struck pay dirt today! For those in "The City" needing those last minute gifts, go Local! 

Local First Chicago has posted it's Local First Chicago’s Independent Chicagoan Shopping Guide – 2009/2010 Holiday Season print it out and get shopping! Good luck!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Show your heart how much you Olive it

Submitted by Gina Raftery
This year I decided to live a healthier lifestyle. I started exercising, cutting down my portions and really looking at the foods I consume. One thing I noticed while reading various articles on living healthier was that almost all of them mentioned the health benefits of Olive Oil. Coming from a family that has a history of high blood pressure and heart disease I was particularly interested in this. (For more info.

Having grown up on vegetable oil and not being much of a cook, I found shopping for Olive Oil to be overwhelming. What do you chose pure, light, virgin, or extra virgin? From what country Italy, Spain, Greece, USA, and the list continue on. After having tried a couple types and brands without satisfaction, I stumbled across City Olive in Chicago

City Olive (in the Andersonville neighborhood) is the place to go to learn about the Olive Oil. This shop sells over 45 varieties of Extra Virgin Olive Oils from countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Turkey, Morocco, Chile, Portugal, Croatia, Australia, Argentina and United States (California)*. Along with over 25 different infused and flavored oils, including truffle, basil, garlic, basil–garlic, lemon, blood orange, tangerine, chili, thyme, mint, Meyer lemon, lime, grapefruit and rosemary*. The helpful and knowledgeable staff at City Olive, along with their sample bar makes shopping for Olive Oil an adventure. They also carry a variety of Vinegars, Seasonings & Spices, Teas, and Specialty Products.

City Olive also hosts events (Introduction to Olive Oil Class) throughout the year. Checkout their website for further information details:

Happy exploring and cooking!

City Olive 5408 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL (773)878-5408

Monday, December 14, 2009

A taste of Germany's largest Lisle, Illinois!

Submitted by Michelle Matzke

The Bavarian Lodge    
1800 Ogden Avenue
Lisle, IL 60532    
Phone: 630-241-7401

Their website says it best: Great Beer. Great Food. No Tubas. No Lederhosen. This is a great restaurant with a fun attitude (just read the house rules ).

Authentic German food with one of the greatest beer selections in Chicagoland. Be prepared to spend some time reading through their beer menu (which is larger than the food menu). This menu is ever changing, allowing you to try a plethora of great brews throughout the year.

If you are intimidated by the beer selection, don't be - the waitstaff is very knowledgable. They also have special beer events throughout the year.

Sign up and join their mailing list for all the event updates. If you are looking to try great imports & microbrews and eat awesome comfort food - this is your place!

For more information, click on their website:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pizza-the dinner of champions

Submitted by Kimberly Demetrio
Tonight we are ordering pizza for dinner. There are 2 pizza joints we frequent here in Lockport- Heritage Pizza and Mike Eez.  As I searched for other options, which there are a few, a common theme surfaced-the lack of on-line presence. 

Well, Heritage does have a website, and if you sign up on their site you get some awesome coupons!  We're getting a free order of hot wings to go along with our party pizza.  Yum!

Heritage Pizza  924 South State St. - Lockport, IL Phone (815) 838-4321

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CNN - Job creation? Look to entrepreneurs

Job creation? Look to entrepreneurs

It's the oldest trick in the political playbook: Call together a "summit" of fancy people so you'll appear to be focused on work that must get done.

Thursday, the White House convened CEOs from companies such as Boeing, AT&T, Comcast and Dow Corning, top leaders of the United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, American Federation of Teachers unions, Ivy League academics and a few small-business representatives to brainstorm how the country might generate much-needed jobs.

A schmooze-fest is nice, but the hard work of putting America back to work will be done by entrepreneurs, not the leaders of the biggest companies in the nation and the heads of big unions.

The mom-and-pop shops, garage start-ups and small businesses across the country will put Americans back on the payroll. According to the Census Bureau, nearly all net job creation in the U.S. since 1980 has been generated by firms operating less than five years.

This means that our job generators are likely not on the White House guest list. They are home working long hours to meet payrolls on tight deadlines and scraping by with limited resources. While others can advocate for the merits of entrepreneurship, and will hopefully do so, our job creators are strangely left out.

Innovators from Oregon to Tennessee are the ones who will generate new jobs. Commerce Department data show that small companies represent 99.1 percent of all employer firms (a firm is an aggregation of all establishments owned by a parent company, even in multiple locations.). They pay nearly 45 percent of U.S. private payroll and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the past decade.

A few start-ups from the last century may be familiar: Disney, Burger King, Fed-Ex, CNN and Microsoft all started during a period of economic downturn. Today, each of these companies employs thousands of people in the U.S. and abroad.

Recent research shows that more than half of the 2009 Fortune 500 companies were launched during a recession or bear market. In 2002, when the tech bubble burst, I graduated from business school just a few miles from Google. The start-up was a mysterious algorithm-based business, little known and lesser understood. Today, Google employs 20,000 people worldwide.

So the question is how can we foster the next Google? Policy-makers can't predict breakthrough technologies, but they can create an environment that will encourage innovation. How to start?

First, provide further access to capital. Last week, two Small Business Administration stimulus provisions that helped to get millions of dollars to small-business owners ran out of funding. The provisions, passed as part of the Recovery Act, raised the maximum guarantee on SBA loans to 90 percent and reduced or eliminated fees associated with the loans, making it more attractive for banks to lend during the downturn. Access to capital is the lifeblood of small businesses. We must renew these provisions and provide even greater access to credit. Helping fledgling companies grow fuels the economy from the bottom up.

Second, welcome immigrants who are job generators. We are a country of immigrants, and yet in recent years, we have made it incredibly difficult for immigrants to launch companies in the U.S. Why not create a new visa for entrepreneurs? Increasingly venture capitalists, angel investors and innovators are advocating a "start-up visa" offered to immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start a company in the United States. In 2008, nearly 40 percent of technology company founders were foreign-born; 52 percent of Silicon Valley company founders were foreign-born, including the founders of Google, Yahoo, eBay and Intel, to name a few. Why chase these innovators away when we need jobs and should be hanging an "innovators wanted" sign on our front door?

Third, match funds for early investors. Early investors need incentives to put money behind companies that will create U.S. jobs. We have channeled billions of dollars to preserve "too big to fail" institutions. Why not make federal matching dollars available to catalyze smart investment in next generation businesses? Investors could keep their normal returns and a share of returns on federal matching funds could go back to the government to further revitalize our weakened economy. Instead of preserving outdated jobs, we need to fuel the creation of future employment prospects. Early-stage investors with a track record of success can help make this happen.

Obama came into office on an entrepreneurial platform. His campaign catalyzed involvement at the grassroots level. Tapping into new technologies such as YouTube, Facebook and other social networks, our president benefited from entrepreneurial advances.

It is time for the White House to return to its campaign roots. Since Obama's inauguration, our unemployment rate has risen from 7.6 percent to 10.2 percent. It is time to stop propping up outmoded and overleveraged institutions and start betting on the new men and women who offer hope for greater prosperity. Supporting entrepreneurs is change we can believe in.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Amy M. Wilkinson.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love some place local? Be a Guest Reviewer!

As you read this blog have you caught yourself thinking about the local establishments you love? 

Have you just finished a brutal quest of researching a product and want to help others avoid the same pain?

If so, tell us about it and we'll get your "Guest Reviewer" submission up!  Just email us the review and we'll get to work on the post! 

Email us at

L-LO-Lockport! One stop shop for ALL your gifts! Go Porter Gift Shop!

Submitted by Kimberly Demetrio
In a not-so-pretty, small strip store center, Porter Plaza, which houses a cleaners, a psychic, and is anchored at one end by Kim's Hotdogs is Porter Gift Shop.  In days gone by my mother would send me in there to pay our electric bill and get our free lightbulbs but today I go there to check off all the gifts needed for the people on my list! It's small in comparison to the over-crowded supermarket/clothing/appliances/oil change stores but what it lacks in size it makes up tremendously in getting you to the point of being there in the first place: to get gifts and get home!

When you're on a mission with no time to be bombarded by flashy end-cap displays of cereal/motor oil/cat food--may I suggest a little Porter Pride?

Porter Gift Shop
(815) 838-0043
703 E 9th St, Lockport, IL 60441

Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena. Hey Macarena! (In Naperville)

Submitted by Michelle Matzke
Macarena Tapas Napeville: 618 South Route 59, Suite 120, Naperville, Illinois,USA 60540

This is one of the restaurants heavy on our rotation list - it's my favorite restaurant in Naperville. There are many good tapas restaurants in the area, but this one is something special. It is a hidden gem of a restaurant that once inside, you would never guess is located in a suburban strip mall. Macarena's fun but intimate setting is perfect for a date night or for hanging out with a group of friends. The varieties of tapas (meant to be shared) and pintoxs (individual) are always crowd pleasers. Between my husband and the many groups of friends we have taken here, we have pretty much tried everything on the main menu (a few times over) and look forward to the specials - never once have we ever been disappointed with our meals.

This restaurant revolves around the customer. The owners are always at the restaurant either cooking or serving tables getting to know their customers. In this case, the customers spoke and the owners listened.

Macarena hosts a variety of events thoughout the year, including Toy for Tots (if you bring in a new toy, they will give you a $10 gift certificate); New Years Eve specials; Lab days (where they let the customers decide if the tapa is good enough to be put on the menu); and cooking classes.

If you're in the mood for a quick bite to eat, a slow enjoyable meal, dancing to a dj on Salsa Fridays,  Macarena is your place! 

Hey Macarena! Hey!

Reservations are not necessary, but I have always made them when we go with a group of people of more than 4 - I've even called a few times earlier the same day.

For more information, click on their website:

Specials and Events are also posted on FaceBook