Wanting to further the careers of other artists he knew, Jake Nickell set up a competition-based T-shirt-design company in his small apartment to give those artists a chance to make their art and get paid while doing it. Today, the small design startup has expanded into Threadless, a virtual boutique showcasing artsy apparel and accessories from designers all over the globe. Each week, guest artists and illustrators submit designs depicting pop-culture references, animals, folk art, and vibrant abstract works, leaving it up to the online community to vote on which entries will populate the shop’s menagerie of merch ranging from T-shirts and hoodies to bags, laptop cases, and umbrellas.
In addition to printing their work, Threadless honours artists with awards for designers in various categories, as well as a Made By program highlighting artists who've developed a following in the community or discovered the whereabouts of Van Gogh's middle-school diaries. Store staffers also award scholarships to hardworking designers and present Design Challenges to focus submitting artists on a central theme or aesthetic style. At Threadless Atrium, they collaborate with charities and other outside organizations to gather eclectic art submissions that currently benefit the American Cancer Society and Disney Villains.
The Chicago branch of Gray Line's global sightseeing operation organizes a wide variety of tours and excursions throughout the Windy City, from architectural tours that send passengers coasting on the river and lake for sun-drenched educational cruises to shopping odysseys at Chicago Premium Outlets, where travelers can zip through more than 100 stores and restaurants after being shuttled to the retail utopia. Blues outings treat music lovers to raw licks, soul food, and real tears at celebrated concert venues such as Buddy Guy's Legends and Rosa's Lounge.
Gray Line's cherry-red trolleys transport visitors and residents alike to famous Chicago sites. Just north of the river, the vehicles idle before the Wrigley Building's sparkling white terra cotta façade, which in the 1920s stood as the first major skyscraper outside of The Loop. From there, the trolley may motor north to the John Hancock Center, where elevators to its observatory sweep guests 96 floors in 39 seconds. The trolley could also steer south to the Willis Tower, which lost its maiden name of Sears after being charmed by a passing cumulus cloud.
Many things have been done for charity, but creating an entirely new restaurant to support a single cause is not usually one of them. From March 12 to April 14, however, Italian restaurant Ripasso is doing just that by unveiling Red-Headed Stepchild, a gourmet eatery that blends Irish and Italian culinary traditions in meals designed to serve a singular purpose: raise money for the youth rugby teams of Chicago. In service of this mission, the typically Italian chefs are creating a menu filled with staples of the Emerald Isle from scratch. House-cured corned beef and sausage and house-baked rye rolls mingle with the restaurants regular deliveries of local ingredients and Italian mandolin solos to create such progressive fusion dishes as corned beef sliders adorned with Carr Valley cheese and poached quail eggs. Craft breweries in the area are even creating signature beers exclusively for the restaurant's fundraising efforts.
Since a portion of all proceeds will be donated to youth rugby, diners who harbor a special fondness for a particular team may request that their money goes to support it. The fundraiser closes with Ruck for the Kids, a battle between celebrity chefs to see who can make a tastier dish and say "aioli" ten times fast.
With four locations speckled across Chicagoland, The Goddess and Grocer pairs the menu of a gourmet deli with the packed shelves of a specialty grocery store. Muffins, scones, and croissants are baked in-house, wafting the scents of melting butter and sugar over a sandwich counter reminiscent of a giant artist’s palette. There, custom sandwiches take shape from 11 breads and wraps, 7 deli meats, 9 cheeses, 12 vegetables, and an assortment of condiments that covers everything from cranberry-tinged mayonnaise to horseradish sauce. A few fixed staples are on hand to simplify decisions, however, including an egg-salad sandwich that Chicago magazine placed on its list of the 50 Best Sandwiches in Chicago, praising it as "a testament to the sheer power of simplicity."
The Goddess and Grocer also assembles bag lunches as well as picnic hampers for patrons looking to enjoy a bite by the lake or to bait a Yogi Bear. To round out these meals, the staff can include high-end, specialty items from the grocery section, including handmade chocolates, artisanal cheeses, mustards and dressings, and wine and beer. Alternatively, they can cater gourmet breakfast, lunch, or dinner for large gatherings and celebrations.
Since Esquire named The Drawing Room one of America's best bars in 2011, the subterranean den has undergone changes that have only added to its air of elegance and tradition. Chief mixologist Sergio Serna has ceded his mixers and martini glasses to apprentices Owen Worley and Will Patton, whose culinary cocktails evince a level of artistry that goes far beyond mere competence.
There?s no one secret to the bartenders? craft, but one might boil it down to an essential three: fresh ingredients, house-made mixers, and small-batch spirits. Whether crafting an MadHattan with Templeton Rye and Punt e Mes, or mixing a Hemingway daiquiri with the barrel of an elephant gun, they gladly walk guests through the process. Chef Brian Beverly shares his counterpart?s obsession with fresh ingredients, crafting progressive American dishes with seasonal inspirations. The bar?s d?cor lives up to the food and drink with its shaded chandeliers and velvet chairs that slide together to form cushy loveseats.
Danny Gabriner's first business model was a little odd: he wanted to bake 1,000 loaves of bread, and give them all away. It turned out to be a winning proposition, though, charming friends, neighbors, and strangers into supporting his newly proposed bakery, Sour Flour. In addition to crafting artisanal breads, Danny saw Sour Flour's mission incorporating education, whether it came through teaching people to appreciate good bread with a free loaf or instructing them in the process of baking some of their very own.
While he still doesn't operate out of a formal brick and mortar location, Danny shares the fruits of his labor in breadbaskets across the city. He sticks to his philanthropic roots, too, spearheading Bagel Monday at La Victoria Bakery, in which bakers gift fresh, free bagels to all comers. Classes at La Victoria are taught by Sour Flour Breaducator Cat Shimizu, who teaches students how to care for their wild yeast starter, bake rustic loaves, and figure out when a crust is ready to molt.