Matt Zahora earned his first airline pilot's seat at the tender young age of 19, his lifetime of practice flying giving him the skill to navigate an aircraft even before he earned his degree in Aviation Management. With over 5,000 hours of flight experience in dozens of types of aircrafts under his belt, he decided it was time to open his own business, Chicagoland Aviation. Drawing on his wealth of knowledge, he helps groundlings become pilots and pilots to purchase their first aircraft.
The Grammy-winning outfit Switchfoot launches crowds into a layered rock soundscape that the band's three guitarists build during energetic live shows. At North Central College, the San Diego fivesome tours in the wake of last year's release, Vice Verses, continuing the new chapter the group began with Hello Hurricane, 2010's Grammy winner for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. "On this record," says frontman Jon Foreman, "we let a little bit more out." Some soul grooves and Motown flavors infuse several new tracks, including "Selling the News," in which Jon's spoken-word rap hopscotches over hip-hop beats. But the band doesn't stray too far from its SoCal rock roots. In "Dark Horse" it cranks out the tight riffs and poignant lyrics of a single destined to brew over time into a rock anthem that unites generations of people and centaurs. Downstate rockers Bottle of Justus open up the show, steering their melodies into the party-rock atmosphere in which they thrive.
Named in honor of local firefighters and police, The Department's restaurant and liquor lounge serve modern cuisine in a loft-style space outfitted with exposed-brick walls, gleaming wood floors, and an abundantly stocked bar. In preparation for the dinner rush, waiters flip crisp white cloths to hide tables’ risqué tattoos while chefs fire up the grill and stir marinades for gourmet steaks, pork loin, and seafood plates. House specialty dishes reflect the chef's meticulous attention to detail; the Cajun rib eye basks in a marinade for 48 hours, and the crab-stuffed tilapia offsets the rich seafood with a white-wine sauce. At lunch, a menu of gourmet sandwiches and burgers fosters casual meals. Fridays see live acoustic entertainment filling the air with quarter notes as bartenders work hard shaking potent cocktails and luring corks out of wine bottles with maraschino cherries. Those craving al fresco eats during warmer months may dine on The Department's tree-lined, second story balcony.
A sizeable beer list keeps the party going at Stone City Saloon, a sports bar and grill with regular karaoke nights and an outdoor patio for bags-tossing. The kitchen cooks up classic pub food, including a signature spinach artichoke dip, wings, burgers, and sandwiches, while bartenders pour tap brews from makers such as Dogfish Head, Bell's, Revolution, and Three Floyds. Eight- and nine-ball pool leagues gather around the felt several times a week.
Challenge Fitness whips bodies into shape with more than 30 cardio machines and a stable of Life Fitness strength machines. Members may pound muscle groups on the fitness-room machines by running, lifting, and fist pumping before washing off and entering the five-lane, 25-yard lap pool to cool off or reenact Wilford Brimley's scenes from Cocoon. A 10-person whirlpool whispers to lap-swimmers, inviting them to take a break in gently swirling, heated waters for the sake of soothing joint aches and stiff sinews. Challenge Fitness trainers facilitate aerobics and fitness classes to help to direct and refine body-sculpting efforts that would otherwise run wild (classes not included with this Groupon, but available for an additional fee). For days when the spirit of sportsmanship visits the gym, members may rent one of the seven tennis courts ($16–$21), the racquetball courts ($6/hour for the court), or the wallyball courts ($3/hour per player).
Kids and adults sound out their musical and rhythmic prowess with individual and group lessons at Allegro Music and Dance Academy. Led by experienced teachers and supplemented with at-home video instruction, music classes encompass an array of styles and techniques to establish a foundation for jazz combos and kitchen utensil bands alike. Group guitar classes teach picking, strumming, and shredding methods to 6–13-year-olds with weekly classes of up to eight students ($240–$299 per 16-week session). Groups form according to age, with older crowds also delving into songwriting and basic rock star moves such as windmilling, power sliding, and trashing an expensive hotel room. Group piano lessons also convene weekly, with up to 10 novices imbuing fingers with basic tickling techniques, as well as theory and repertoire ($240 per 16-week session). Songbirds aged 9 and older stretch their vocal chords with one-on-one voice instruction, while younger warblers learn in the company of a piano’s finely tuned tones. The music class schedule showcases all group meeting times, but private instruction in keys, strings, or vocal chords can also be scheduled Monday–Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.