by T. C. Mayfield, The Chicago Times

July 19, 2021

OAK BROOK, IL — Portillo’s, The Wiener King of Chicago, will soon be issuing shares on the open market.

The Oak Brook-based restaurant chain, which is owned by private equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC, announced Monday that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but no set date for the initial stock offering.

The company did not reveal the number of shares or the price range, but the Wall Street Journal reported Portillo’s is aiming for a valuation of $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Dick Portillo founded Portillo’s in 1963, when he sold hot dogs from a stand in Villa Park.

In 2014, Portillo sold the company to Berkshire Partners for nearly $1 billion.

Portillo’s has expanded to approximately 50 restaurants across Illinois, with additional locations in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.


By The Chicago Times Staff

July 18, 2021

FAIR LAWN, NJ — Residents of a New Jersey town were able to smell the sweet aroma of freshly baked Oreo cookies for the last time on Friday, as the community’s Nabisco plant closed after 63 years of operation.

It was the last day of production at the Fair Lawn plant, which has produced Oreos, Ritz crackers, Lorna Doone, and Teddy Grahams since 1958, according to parent company Mondelez International.

The plant’s 600 employees have either retired, been transferred, or are looking for new jobs, according to the company.   When the company announced in February that it would close two plants in New Jersey and one in Atlanta, production began to slow.

Local and state officials were disappointed by the plant’s closure in New Jersey.  Kurt Peluso, the mayor of Fair Lawn, described it as “disgusting.”  Potential buyers’ bids for the plant were being evaluated by the company.  The factory’s total assessed value is $29.3 million, according to records.


by The Chicago Times Staff

July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Officials at the White House believe that a recent spike in inflation may last for a while, but that it will eventually subside as widespread bottlenecks that have severely disrupted the supply chain begin to dissipate.

Prices for goods and services increased by the most in 13 years fueling fears that a rapidly recovering economy could lead to out-of-control growth.  Consumer prices rose 0.9 percent in May and 5.4 percent over the previous year, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and gas prices, increased by 4.5 percent in the past year, the highest increase since November 1991.

Consumer prices have risen in tandem with the economy’s faster-than-expected recovery from the pandemic, as Americans, flush with stimulus funds, eagerly begin spending again on everything from vacations to new clothing.

While the Biden administration believes that the price hike will last quarters, not months, until the supply chain bottleneck is resolved, it believes that inflation has already peaked in some sectors, such as used cars, which saw a 10.5 percent increase in June, the largest monthly increase since records began.

The rise in prices for goods and services has been mostly downplayed by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who blames it on supply shortages and a wave of pent-up demand among consumers as more Americans are vaccinated and begin their post-pandemic lives.

Powell has maintained that inflation is likely to be “higher and more persistent than we expect,” even though he has said it could be “higher and more persistent than we expect.”

Investors are concerned that rising inflation will force the Fed to hit the brakes sooner than expected and begin withdrawing its massive monetary support for the economy.

While inflation is rising, job growth has slowed to pre-crisis levels, leaving 9.5 million Americans unemployed.

Fed officials unanimously agreed to keep interest rates near zero, where they have been since March 2020, and to continue purchasing $120 billion in bonds each month during their two-day policy-setting meeting in June.

Even though policymakers raised headline inflation expectations to 3.4 percent for 2021 – a full point higher than the March forecast – the Fed gave no indication in June that it was considering scaling back its aggressive bond-buying program. 


by The Chicago Times Staff

July 13, 2021

CHICAGO (CBOT) — Coffee prices may soon rise as Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer, suffers from the worst drought in nearly a century.  Brazil’s total coffee harvest in 2021 is expected to drop by the most since 2003, according to the Department of Agriculture.  Brazil’s Arabica crop is expected to yield 15 million 132-pound bags less than expected in 2020.


by The Chicago Times Staff

July 11, 2021

OTTAWA — After a blaze destroyed the town of Lytton, British Columbia, and killed two people earlier this month, Canada imposed rail transportation restrictions in areas where there is a high wildfire risk.

According to a statement from the Transport Ministry, the order will require both Canadian National Railway Co and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd to take precautions against wildfires, including reducing train speeds.

On Friday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued a 48-hour rail halt in parts of British Columbia.  The new restrictions went into effect on Sunday morning and will be in effect until October 31st.

According to Alghabra, the order “will put in place interim measures while the department works with railway companies to incorporate these fire risk reduction measures on a permanent basis.

CP said it would follow the directive, while CN said it would continue to operate according to strict protocols and regulations.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced on Friday that teams of investigators would be dispatched to determine whether freight trains were to blame for two fires, including the one that ravaged Lytton.

According to official data, there are 297 wildfires burning in British Columbia, an increase of 97 in just two days.

Trains will have to run at reduced speeds across the country when there is a high risk of fire and the outside temperature is high.  In addition, CN and CP will be required to develop a fire risk mitigation plan and consult with indigenous communities regarding fire hazards.



ComEd uses goats to clear grass and brush under power lines – a safer and greener way to help keep energy reliable

CHICAGO (July 7, 2021) – ComEd’s four-legged employees are taking a break from eating vegetation under power lines in Pekin, Ill., for a boat cruise on the Chicago River. Twenty goats will join ComEd employees today to take in downtown views from the river and educate customers about ComEd’s goat vegetation management program.

“ComEd is excited to bring the goats to Chicago this year to show one of our innovative and sustainable solutions to ensure reliable power for families and businesses,” said Michelle Blaise, senior vice president of technical services at ComEd. “The goats work hard to clear vegetation in hard-to-reach places, helping us to prevent power outages in an environmentally-friendly way. If anyone deserves a break, it’s them.”

The ComEd goats will cruise the Chicago River between the DuSable Bridge and LaSalle Street Bridge on Wednesday, July 7, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Since 2019, ComEd has enlisted the support of over 200 goats to help clear vegetation in Pekin, Ill., in terrain that is difficult to access. The goats’ “work” helps ComEd avoid power outages and service disruptions often caused by overgrown vegetation near power lines. Using goats cuts the cost and time required to clear the vegetation by more than half, reduces safety risks to workers and is an eco-friendly alternative.

The goats are on loan to ComEd from goat grazing company Goats on the Go. After clearing 13 acres of land last year, ComEd’s goats are continuing the hard work this summer through the month of July.

To learn more about the goats’ #HotGoatSummer and track their progress, check out ComEd’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.