Tuesday, September 24, 2013


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The Fresh Fish Experts Bring Innovative Recipes and New Brunch Options to Orland Park

Local dignitaries celebrate the opening of the Orland Park Bonefish Grill with a ribbon cutting. (From left to right: (unidentified); Trustee Pat Gira, Orland Park; Trustee Kathleen Fenton, Orland Park; Nick Kapellas, Bonefish Grill; Mayor Dan McLaughlin, Orland Park; Ryan Rogers, Bonefish Grill; Trustee Ed Schussler, Orland Park; Orland Chamber Director Keloryn Putnam, Orland Park; Marc Lochow, Orland Park; Walter Krop, Tinley Park; and Kathryn Staniero, Tinley Park.)

ORLAND PARK, IL (Sept. 17, 2013) – Orland Park’s dining scene now has a new hot spot in town. Bonefish Grill opened its doors on Monday at the restaurant’s newest location at 15537 S. La Grange Road, Orland Park, Ill. The grand opening follows a charity event which took place on Saturday, September 14, benefitting Together We Cope and helping the group to raise $8,815. Proceeds from the event will support Together We Cope as they work to assist families in temporary crisis in 22 of Chicago’s south suburban communities.

“This weekend’s event with Together We Cope was the perfect way to begin our relationship with the Orland Park community,” said Nick Kapellas, Managing Partner of Bonefish Grill in Orland Park. “Together We Cope and their supporters welcomed us with open arms, and we look forward to welcoming the rest of the Orland Park community in the coming weeks to show them what we do best: attentive chef’s coat service that brings fun, inviting dining and a big-city bar to the area.”

The ZAGAT award-winning, polished casual restaurant brings its wood-grilled fish, seafood and chops, innovative sauces and indulgent desserts to the area’s top dining and shopping destination. Coupling great-tasting food with a welcoming bar that features an array of “bar-fresh” cocktails, extensive craft beer selections, and an adventurous wine list, Bonefish Grill will excite and delight guests.

The “fresh fish experts” will tantalize taste buds with signature appetizers and handhelds including Bonefish Grill’s famous Bang Bang Shrimp, Ahi Tuna Sashimi, PEI Mussels Josephine and “American style” Kobe beef burgers. Guests can choose simply-grilled fish with a choice of four signature sauces or truly indulge with market-fresh specials to offer guests a variety of seasonal flavors and selections from around the world. Happy Hour drink and food specials run Sunday – Thursday from 4 – 6:30 p.m.

Orland Park will serve Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., and diners can decide between the beloved Traditional Eggs Benedict and other new menu additions including Surf and Turf Eggs Benedict, Huevos Benedictos with crispy corn tortillas and chorizo, and Spinach and Mushroom Eggs Benedict. Other new dishes include “American Style” Kobe Beef and Egg Burger as well as the Cajun Shrimp Omelet, Garden Fresh Omelet, and Organic Whole Grain Oatmeal. For health-conscious guests, all omelets can be prepared with egg white substitute upon request.

The restaurant is open for dinner seven nights a week:  Monday through Thursday, from 4 – 10:30 p.m., 4 – 11:30 p.m. on Friday, 4 – 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Sunday.

While reservations are not required, they are available by visiting the Orland Park website, www.bonefishgrill.com, where a new online reservation system is offered (for select Bonefish Grill locations) or by calling (708) 873-5170.


Founded in St. Petersburg, Florida, Bonefish Grill specializes in market-fresh fish from around the world and other savory wood-grilled specialties. Guests receive “chef’s coat service” and are guided through an innovative, seasonal menu and specials featuring the highest-quality, fresh ingredients. Combined with a big-city bar, Bonefish Grill offers hand-crafted cocktails and an affordable list of 30 wines by the glass offering a great match for any food pairing. The restaurant provides a fun and lively place to eat, drink, relax and socialize on any given day of the week. The experience is based on the premise of simplicity, consistency and a strong commitment to excellence at every level. In thirteen years, the award-winning Bonefish Grill family has grown to 188 restaurants in 32 states. For more information, visit www.bonefishgrill.com, facebook.com/BonefishGrill or follow on Twitter @bonefishgrill.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

New garbage cans delivered today in Orland Park

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New garbage cans delivered today in Orland Park

Waste Management delivered new gray garbage cans today, to every home. They're larger than the blue recycling cans and way larger than the old garbage can, which is obsolete. It should automate the collection process without requiring someone to lift the heavy cans. I hope people are not losing jobs over this.

The funny thing is we have way more recycling these days than garbage. The new can is so large, sometimes we only have one bag each week. We recycle everything. 

They said they will be collecting the recycling each week instead of every other week in Orland Park. That does make sense. I wish we could swap and use the blue ones for garbage and the gray ones for recycling.

Truck delivering the cans house-to-house in Orland Park all day today. You can hear the "thud" as each can is dropped on the street and then rolled onto the driveways of each home. Each can is numbered and the delivery person has to log in each new number with each home.

Go out and cook a Mediterranean meal. It's fun, easy and healthy

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Go out and cook a Mediterranean meal. It's fun, easy and healthy

Ziyad Brothers Importing offers the best in Mediterranean food ingredients so you can make some of your favorite, or first time, Mediterranean recipes.

It's not hard. Go to Ziyad.com to get ideas or just do it on your own.

This is roast lamb on a grill, with basmati rice with browned walnuts slices, and tabouleh salad on the side.

Enjoy it.

Put the lamb leg on the barbecue grill, or roast it inside the oven. To keep the juices in it, cook it quickly, high flame on the broiler for 45 minutes. You want the inside to be tender and outside grilled so it keeps the juices inside.

Make the rice. It's easy. Ziyad Brand basmati rice comes with directions, but maybe you have your favored recipe or methods.

When you are ready to serve the rice, brown sliced walnuts to add as a garnish to the rice.

Now, make the tabouleh salad. Click here for a recipe from Ziyad Brothers web site. You'll need medium Crack Wheat (you can buy it from ZIyad Brothers or ask for it at your local ethnic store). Put it in a large mixing bowl. Add Lemon Juice, White Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil to your liking. (The cracked wheat absorbs the juices while you dice the remaining vegetables: tomatoes, parsley, green onions, cucumbers

 With the diced parsley on the cracked wheat as it soaks.

Add the cucumbers

Add the diced tomatoes

Dice the green onions

Mix it well. Add lemon juice, olive oil and spices (salt, garlic powder, etc) to your liking.

It's that easy.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The trials and tribulations of banking for the poor

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The trials and tribulations of banking for the poor

I have a friend who is handicapped slightly physically and slightly mentally. She's a good person but she has to have someone serve as her "Designated Payee" for her disability payments.

So they asked me to help.

She set up her own account at TCF Bank on Archer Avenue. It's close to where she lives and uses an ATM card to access funds. That makes life a little bit easier for her to buy food and other necessities each month.

As the Designated Payee, I have to receive the checks, put them in an account set up for her benefit and then manage the funds each month so she doesn't give the money away or lose the money. She's done that before.

One time I took her to Jewel to buy groceries. We were at the cashier's register and she was with the basket of bagged food as I was busy paying for it. When I looked over, Is aw that she was giving food from her basket that we just purchased to another homeless man. She was helping him shove the food into his coat jacket.

I asked her, "What are you doing with your food?"

She turned to me and said, "Ray, he doesn't have any money and he needs food."

I told her, "You don't have any money and you need food."

The handicapped, homeless, the poor and the disabled are always very generous, but I had to make the point what she has, she needs.

That's why it's good to have a designated payee.

To make life easier, I figured in this world of computer technology, I would set up an account at TCF Bank and then connect it online to her bank account to help expedite the movement of money. For the poor and disabled, getting their money and disability checks efficiently makes their lives more comfortable and easier.

When they have no money, they just don't eat. I've seen her where she looked malnourished and scrawny. I'd go get her some chicken sandwiches from White Castles or Wendys -- these fast food restaurants are not the most nourishable places, but you just don't have much choice. Good restaurants are just too expensive and they take forever to make food. She already eats all the time at Subway.

So, I went to TCF Bank and opened an account to have her Social Security Disability checks deposited there under the Designated Payee name given to me by the Government.

Seemed simple. I could have the checks automatically deposited in the account, now that it is set up, and then go online when she needs money and transfer funds so she can get food if she runs out of money before I can see her.

They told me I could connect the new accounts to her accounts, once everything was set up.

It sounded great in theory. TCF Bank boosts that it gives you free checking. I set up a checking account and a savings account for her deposits.

The next day, I went online to transfer funds. Of course, it didn't work. I waited a few days and tried it again. Again, it wouldn't work.

Turns out I can't connect the accounts I set up with her accounts, unless I give her access. That defeats the purpose of a designated payee. She would just take out all the money and give it to people she thinks are needier than her, and she would starve to death.

Then i discovered the most disturbing part of banking at TCF Bank.

The employees are all courteous and good people. So nice. Believe me. This isn't about them. But their system sucks. TCF Bank requires an 18 day hold on all deposits into the Savings Account.

Now you tell me!

So for the past 18 days, I have been paying her rent and her food bills from my pocket because once we deposited the Disability check into the new account, we couldn't touch it for 18 days. We did it on the 5th, so the bank said I probably have to wait until Sept. 23 to access the funds.

They'd let me take a little.


That's NOT a solution It's NOT helpful.

I was at the bank and saw all these poor people bringing in cans of coins they were processing through the coin counters int he lobby and wondered how much the bank must charge to convert their pennies, nickels and dimes into dollar bills. It made me feel sad.

I drove to Harris Bank and within a few minutes, set up a new account so the disability checks can be deposited automatically when they are issued on the 3rd of each month.

Guess what? Harris bank said the money would be accessible ON THE SAME DAY it is deposited. And they gave me a free overdraft policy to cover any overdrafts.

Last month she over drafted a check for $2 and had to pay a $37 fee to TCF Bank. Yikes! That's why I have to help her. And then she told me each time she withdraws money using her ATM card, she has to pay a fee, too.

That's what needy people need. They need it right away. There is no 401 K savings, or stock market investments or long term CDs with high interest rates for them. They don't have any money. They need to be able to use what little they have to cover their expenses and put food in their mouths.

The past month has been insufferable as I wait for the disability money to become available so she can use it to cover her expenses. It's been so frustrating, I had to share this experience.

I'm not mad at TCF Bank. But clearly, they really don't understand the people they service, especially those who live on accounts measured in pennies, nickels and dimes.

Later this week, I will be able to start depositing money into her account, to manage it so she spends it properly and doesn't feel at one moment like she has so much she can give it away to other needy people. I divide it by each week of the month so she will only have that portion she needs after her rent is paid. (The rent payment check for last month bounced because TCF Bank said the money wasn't available yet.)

Understanding the people you serve is important.

But I think society needs to do more and start thinking about the people out there who are poor and on limited, fixed incomes. They should have to pay $37 when they overdraw their account by a few dollars. That's immoral.

We need to help the poor. Banks should give them free accounts and make the money available immediately, not make them wait weeks.

And they should eliminate fees for ATMs on designated accounts belonging to the poor and indigent.

It just seems like the right thing to do.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

I feel like I'm Dan Calandriello's "political clout" -- or at least helped get his political career running

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I feel like I'm Dan Calandriello's "political clout" -- or at least helped get his political career off the ground

Mayor Dan McLaughlin this week named Dan Calandriello, 28, as the successor to fill the vacancy of retiring trustee Brad O'Halloran.

I feel like I played a major part in making that happen, indirectly, of course.

No, Mayor McLaughlin didn't consult me when he made the appointment. I didn't write a letter of recommendation for Dan to apply for the vacancy either.

Dan Calandriello graduated from Marquette University and holds a law degree (almost a necessity for politics these days) from John Marshall Law School. According to the Village of Orland Park press release, Calandriello served in Washington DC, as a staff assistant for the U.S. House, according to the village. McLaughlin also said he did some work at Cook County, too.

He's a lifelong resident of Orland Park and has been an assistant state's attorney since 2011.

He also used to be my neighbor. His father was a good friend who I knew from the "neighborhood," although in the suburbs the term "neighborhood" isn't the same as it is in Chicago where homes are closer together and you can "know" families in homes within a 5 block radius.

In today's suburbs and large  home land plots, you're lucky (or unlucky) if you know your next door neighbor.

Dan's father worked as a salesman at a big car dealership where I purchased a car. (He's the second neighbor who worked at a car dealership where I purchased cars. Friendships make for confidence when spending the big bucks on vehicles that are very costly these days.

Great family. Nice people.

I remember when Dan was a young kid still in grade school and then later high school at Sandburg. He came up to me one day and asked me about politics and journalism. I had worked for years as the City Hall reporter for the old Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper, which today is an ethical shell of itself. And I published The Villager Newspapers which were very popular for many years in the mid-1990s until I sold the chain to the Messenger Press which was bought up by Liberty Publishing years later.

Dan Calandriello had a sparkle in his eye. A bright young kid. He was really interested. So I spoke with him and told him about how exciting politics would be and then introduced him to Mayor McLaughlin. I suggested, properly, that he approach the Mayor and express his interest. He should just reach out and get involved.

Local government is the perfect place to begin.

Clearly on his own initiative, Dan has done well. It's commendatory that his career has done so well. He wasn't just a lawyer, but an assistant prosecutor targeting crimes.

I haven't talk to him since his family moved from the neighborhood. Back in the mid-1990s, several homes flooded and his dad's home was one that the village purchased, refurbished and resold. It was a terrible time for flooding victims. But since then, the sewers and water pipes have been expanded significantly and flooding is no longer an issue.

I hope the new trustee will do well to consider the needs of residents. Politics is important but honesty is more important.

Good luck Dan Calandriello. Of course, I know if something goes wrong, I'll be the first to get blamed. But I have confidence this young man is going to do well. His father was a great role model and raised him right.

It's amazing to see these young people grow and become productive members of our society.

Instead of locking Calandriello into the vacancy for the remainder of O'Halloran's term, Dan Calandriello will have to run for election in the April 15, 2014 elections. O'Halloran, who has been a board member since 1993, was just re-elected but resigned int he wake of the shakeup at the METRA Board where he had served as chairman, appointed by the village. O'Halloran was a great politician and public servant and his loss is a loss for Orland Park.

But Mayor McLaughlin said in a village release, "I know Dan will do a great job, and he is excited about this opportunity. I am very happy to find somebody younger who will bring some new ideas and enthusiasm to the village government."

He also wrote, “I knew Dan when he was in grade school with one of my sons and remember his extremely upbeat positive attitude. After not seeing or talking with him for years, I find he has not lost that positive attitude, which in itself is noteworthy. After talking with him I find his enthusiasm and interest in serving Orland Park commendable and one of the many reasons I kept coming back to him. If we are to continue trying to make Orland Park the type of community that attracts and retains citizens of all ages, we need younger voices with new and different ideas on the board.”

I couldn't agree more. We do need more new blood on the village board. There's too much old, stale politics there. And despite some positive changes, the village still has some challenges including the increasingly annoying traffic that seems unsolvable and instances of crime that are disconcerting.

Mayor McLaughlin has always had an open administration and has done a good job as mayor. Hopefully he can pass along some of that in the Calandriello appointment.

I also feel good that I had a great influence in the life of another young man, Billy Healy, a young man who studied at Georgetown University, St Ignatius College Preparatory school and Northwestern. He had a great interest in journalism and I helped him get into journalism. He has done very well, too. Here's a link to some of Billy Healy's work. Click here.

And of course, I am not claiming any credit for their success. They did it all on their own. But I am glad I played a small roll in helping two great young people.