Alexia Elejalde
Alexia Elejalde
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PPP loans were meant to help small businesses save jobs amid the pandemic. So why does official data show thousands of recipients retained zero jobs?

PPP loans were meant to help small businesses save jobs amid the pandemic. So why does official data show thousands of recipients retained zero jobs?

When Quest Food Management Services was approved for a forgivable federal loan to help it preserve jobs during the pandemic, the Lombard-based company, which supplies meals to schools throughout the Chicago area, was so grateful that it issued a news release celebrating its ability to keep more than 830 people employed. by the Small Business Administration detailing who received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program did not tie any jobs to Quest’s $5.3 million loan. Like tens of thousands of other loan recipients listed in the official government data, the line item for “jobs retained”...

July 10, 2020
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Takeout gets a makeover: How COVID-19 is forcing restaurants to improve the to-go experience

Takeout gets a makeover: How COVID-19 is forcing restaurants to improve the to-go experience

It didn’t take long for Pete Ternes to learn that a good restaurant does not automatically make for a good takeout operation. His Logan Square brewpub, the Bungalow by Middle Brow, tried valiantly to keep churning out its signature thin-crust pizzas for a to-go audience during the first week of the state’s stay-at-home order in March. Advertisement But the demand overwhelmed the kitchen, which wasn’t used to 300 orders coming in at the same time. Wait times stretched to 1½ hours. “Our customers were angry and gathering into a nice friendly mob outside,” Ternes said. Advertisement He paused,...

June 12, 2020
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Are you an essential worker? Says who? And what if you don’t think your job is worth the coronavirus risk?

Are you an essential worker? Says who? And what if you don’t think your job is worth the coronavirus risk?

So you’re an essential worker. That means you can go to work while the rest of Illinois abides by a mandate to stay home in hopes of minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Some people are grateful for the continued paycheck. Others worry their own safety concerns aren’t being considered, and dispute how indispensable they really are. Advertisement “There are certainly going to be instances where employees who are deemed essential will be concerned about going to work,” said Lauren Novak, a partner in the labor and employment practice at Chicago-based Schiff Hardin. “Employers will need...

March 26, 2020
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Higher prices, fewer options for meat lovers as coronavirus closes more Illinois meatpacking plants

Higher prices, fewer options for meat lovers as coronavirus closes more Illinois meatpacking plants

Chad Leman, a third-generation hog farmer in Eureka, Illinois, thinks he can hold out for two more weeks before he resorts to once-unthinkable measures. With some of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses closed due to worker outbreaks of COVID-19, he can’t sell most of his market-ready hogs. But freshly weaned piglets continue to arrive, crowding his barns. He’s been shuffling pigs around, but there’s just not enough space. Advertisement “We can do this for a couple weeks yet, but then we’re going to have some tough decisions," Leman said. "We are going to have to euthanize baby pigs because...

April 27, 2020
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Potbelly warns it could close 100 stores as COVID-19 causes sales drop

Potbelly warns it could close 100 stores as COVID-19 causes sales drop

Potbelly is considering permanently closing 100 stores after sales tanked as stay-at-home orders took hold. The Chicago-based sandwich chain, which had been when the coronavirus pandemic struck, saw sales at stores open at least 15 months drop 68% in March, the company said Tuesday in releasing its first-quarter earnings. Advertisement The quarter had been looking good before that, with sales up 2.5% for the first 10 weeks of the year, and the company had hoped to report its first positive sales at comparable stores in more than three years. Instead, it ended the quarter down 10%. The...

May 12, 2020
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