5 Ways Real Estate Agents Save You Money When Selling Your Home

Real estate agent with couple shaking hands closing a deal and signing a contract

It’s understandable – after finally selling your home, it can be tough to fork over the commission fee to a real estate agent. But before you fall into the FSBO trap, consider one very important thing: real estate agents can actually save you money.

While a commission is due at the end of the deal, the cost will pale in comparison to how much you can save through the process. Here are just a handful of ways how agents can save you cash when selling your home.

1. They’ll Price Your Home Right

Who wouldn’t want to list their home for millions of dollars, regardless of what it’s actually worth? Everyone wants to get as much money as possible for their property, but buyers aren’t dumb – they’re probably working with their own agents who are telling them what they should and shouldn’t offer on a property. There’s this little thing called ‘comparables’, and agents use them to gauge what homes are worth in a specific area. And while buyers’ agents are using these comps, so are sellers’ agents.

Here’s the rub – price your home too high, and you’ll send buyers running in the opposite direction. That leaves your home sitting on the market for weeks and even months without a bite. And the longer your home remains unsold, the more it costs you in the long run.

The other end of the spectrum is just as ugly – price your home too low, and you’re basically leaving a ton of cash on the table. The goal here is to make as much money as possible, which means you need to find that sweet spot as far as a listing price is concerned. With an experienced real estate agent on your side, you’ll have the expertise and tools necessary to price your home perfectly to get you the most money come sale time.

2. They Give You Awesome Staging Tips

The look of your home can be totally transformed with a few key pointers from your real estate agent. If you’ve had the same set-up and decor for years, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your home shows well to sellers. A seasoned agent will come in to your home and objectively gauge the space, then (nicely) tell you what’s working, and what’s not.

He or she will make suggestions about what you should get rid of and what you can keep, as well as how your present furniture should be arranged to maximize flow and functionality. Rearranging furniture to its optimal visual appeal will make your home more attractive to buyers.

Real estate agents can even bring in a professional home stager to make major changes to the space. These pros bring in their own furniture and accessories, and can make your home look like something that jumped out of a magazine. It’s a fact that homes that are well staged sell faster, and for more money compared to homes that are left as is. So it’s totally worth it to listen to staging tips from your real estate agent or stager if you want more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

3. They’ve Got Ties With Other Pros in the Industry

The savviest agents are the ones that have an arsenal of experts on the back burner to help you in all sorts of ways along the home selling journey.

Need a few repairs to your home before you put it up on the market? An agent can set you up with a contractor. Apprehensive about the mortgage process? Your agent can put you in touch with a trusted mortgage specialist. And what about all the legal stuff that comes along with selling a property and transferring title? Agents have a lawyer they can recommend to you.

Trying to find professionals such as these that are both experienced and trusted can be a full-time job. Luckily, that’s a hefty chore that you can strike off your list when you work with a competent real estate agent. Forget about throwing money in incapable hands – the experts you work with will come highly recommended, and maybe even with a discount.

4. They’ll Negotiate More Money on the Sale Price

The art of negotiation comes in really handy at the home selling table. Real estate agents are masters of this skill, and will pull all the stops to help you get the highest dollar for your home. The more money you make on your home, the more money goes into their pocket, so you can be sure that they’ll do their darnedest to squeeze every dollar out of the deal possible.

Whether the strategy is to sightly under-price the home to stimulate a bidding war, or to focus on super-motivated buyers that put up a sizeable deposit and offer a quick closing, agents are there to help put the most money in your pocket. And when it comes to deciding whether or not to accept an offer, counter it, negotiate the closing date, or change the contingencies, your agent is there to navigate these negotiations to get you the best deal.

5. They Save You Time

You’ve heard the saying before – time is money. Well, this phrase doesn’t ring any more true than during the selling process. Those who are inexperienced with the ins and outs of selling a property have no clue about how incredibly tedious and time-consuming it can be. It’s certainly not as simple as slapping up a For Sale sign, throw up a few photos online, allow the heards of buyers to flock, then accept the first offer that comes in.

There’s a lot more to it than that, and it can really suck the time out of your schedule. Who has time to take care of all the back-end stuff that comes along with successfully selling a home? Instead, leave it to a real estate agent to take care of all of that – after all, this is their full-time job, and they’re good at it.

Do yourself a favor – avoid the temptation to go the FSBO route in an effort to “save” some money. If you really want to save yourself some cash, work with an agent. Besides saving you money, real state agents will also save you a ton of hassle and headaches. That alone is well worth enlisting their services.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Embracing November and Upcoming Holidays!

Graphic of a young couple enjoying autumn leaves

As we embrace the arrival of November plus our next two holidays of the season, this weekend not only offers us some fun and exciting events before all the holiday hoopla begins, but it also gives us the opportunity to get a head start on this year’s holiday shopping!

It’s a perfect weekend for the Hot Chocolate Run this Sunday (7:30 a.m.) held at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop, especially after our first sign of snow this past Tuesday!  This annual race features a 5K (3.1 miles) and a 15K (9.3 miles) with each participant receiving an exclusive, race-themed full-zip hoodie, and a finisher’s medal that looks like a cup of hot cocoa.  But wait, there’s more!  The post-race party will have runners enjoying music as they receive their finisher’s mug filled with the best hot chocolate along with chocolate fondue and tasty dippable treats.  It’s the fastest-growing race series in the nation, and not to be missed!

For all the beer aficionados out there, the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers, more commonly known as FoBAB, takes place this Saturday (1 p.m.) at the UIC Credit Union One Arena (525 S. Racine Ave.) on the West Side in the Little Italy neighborhood.  This year, over 190 participating breweries from across the country, including local spots, will submit their most exciting wood and barrel-aged beer, cider, mead, and perry for judging by an expert panel awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as “Best in Show” across 12 style categories.  Two tasting sessions give attendees an opportunity to sample these entries from the craft breweries.  Plus, a Lager Lounge provides a reprieve from the higher ABV samples at the festival as well as the new Super Zero Lounge hosted by Revolution Brewing and showcasing their new Super-Zero Sparkling Hop Water.  FoBAB is North America’s largest and most prestigious barrel-aged beer festival and competition of its kind with Illinois being the crown jewel in the U.S.!

For all the wine connoisseurs out there, the Chicago Zoological Society will be hosting Wines in the Wild this Saturday (6 p.m.-10 p.m.) at Brookfield Zoo (8400 31st St.) in Brookfield.  The evening will offer guests wine or liquor tastings with representatives from wineries and distilleries across the U.S. in the newly renovated Discovery Center at the zoo.  Plus, delicious hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction with unique travel, wine, and Zoo-centric items, and up-close experiences with some of the zoo’s animal ambassadors round out the evening!

I’ve heard that it’s never too early to begin your holiday shopping so, here are two events to get you started:

Chicago’s favorite night market is kicking off the festive season with SAUCED Night Market this Saturday (5 p.m.-10 p.m.) on the second floor of the WNDR Museum (1130 W. Monroe St.) in the West Loop.  Dozens of the Midwest’s finest vendors will be selling handmade goods, vintage clothing, jewelry, prints, and more treasures as well as offering food from local eateries, drinks, and music from DJ Johnny Walker.  In addition, this market is free to attend with RSVP and open to guests of all ages!

Come explore, discover, experience, and celebrate the latest toys and games for this holiday season at the 2023 Holiday Chicago Toy & Game Fair this Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (5555 N. River Rd.) in Rosemont.  This fair is open to the public and features immersive events, interactive exhibits, giveaways, characters, and activities for all ages!  You’re sure to find some great additions for your collection of toys and games!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Flying the friendly skies at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

Travelers walk to gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport

Merry holiday season to one and all! Welcome also to the season of travel, which is also upon us. 

Criss-crossing the country is commonplace these days. But before Midway and O’Hare International Airport, travel for the ordinary person or family was primarily by train, bus or car. While business  flights had been around since the mid-1920’s, it’s fair to say that the modern era of commercial flight in the United States started at O’Hare Airport.

Wait…that’s in Chicago?

O’Hare is situated at the farthest Northwest corner of the City of Chicago, between Bensenville and Rosemont, on land that was annexed from Western DuPage County and was largely fields prior to building O’Hare.


During World War II, the land  was home to a Douglas aircraft assembly plant. Over 600 C-54s were built there during the war years and flown out to various deployments. After the war, the plant was torn down and renamed Orchard Field. Its code has remained ‘ORD’ in reference to its original name of Orchard. 

Up to that time, the world flew to and from Midway Airport on Chicago’s Southwest Side. But constraints on building out or adding additional runway spaces caused Chicago’s City Council to look elsewhere for expansion.

According to Wikipedia sources, O’Hare International Airport was the first major airport planned after World War II. In 1945, Chicago mayor Edward Kellyappointed a committee to choose and negotiate the rights to the land. In 1949, according to FlyChicago.com, the Chicago City Council renamed Orchard Field to honor naval aviator Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, a Medal of Honor recipient from Chicago. When O’Hare opened, it had just four intersecting concrete runways, and was primarily used by the Air Force during the Korean War. 

As Wikipedia tells it, architect Ralph H. Burke devised an airport master plan based on the pioneering idea of “split finger terminals”, allowing a terminal building to be attached to “airline wings” (concourses), each providing space for gates and planes. 

Burke’s design also included underground refueling, direct highway access to the front of terminals, and direct rail access from downtown, all of which are utilized at airports worldwide today.

In 1955, according to FlyChicago.com, O’Hare officially opened to commercial air traffic; the airport served 176,902 passengers in its first year. In 1957, a fifth parallel diagonal runway was added to the west side of the airfield.

O’Hare’s first international terminal opened in August 1958, and by April 1959 the airport had expanded to 7,200 acres with new hangars, terminals, parking and other facilities. 

Two factors contributed to its ability to surpass Midway:  1) Midway Airport could not handle the new Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8, and the expansion in the use of jets. 2)  The expressway link to downtown Chicago, now known as the Kennedy Expressway, was completed in 1960.  Simpleflying.com recounts that by 1961, it was the second busiest airport in the US, with 9.62 million passengers that year. 


O’Hare’s innovative design pioneered concepts such as concourses, direct highway access to the terminal, jet bridges, and underground refueling systems.


O’Hare continues to be owned and operated by the City of Chicago. The airport is managed by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and is of the busiest airport systems in the world.

United Airlines’ Terminal 1 (dubbed “The Terminal for Tomorrow”), was designed by architect Helmut Jahn, as Wikipedia tells it…it was built between 1985 and 1987, and is best known for its futuristic curved glass forms and its connecting tunnel,  illuminated with a neon installation titled ‘Sky’s the Limit (1987)’ by Canadian artist Michael Hayden, which plays an airy, slow-tempo version of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.’

While you await your flight, they’ve made sure that you’ll have a taste of Chicago as well. Local, well-known restaurants such as Frontera, Billy Goat Tavern, and the Publican provide travelers a sample of Chicago’s diverse food scene. 

O’Hare flies non-stop flights to 214 destinations in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and the North Atlantic region as of November 2022, according to Wikipedia sources. As of 2023, O’Hare is considered the world’s “most connected” airport, and remains in the top five busiest airports internationally.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: A trip around the world at the West Loop’s Proxi

Two hands grabbing mini tacos off of a shared plate

“Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s varied menu reads like an Asian hawker market.”

Conde Nast Traveler

Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s companion restaurant to Sepia is a chic stop for, as their website describes, “global street food and cocktails in an architectural setting with dining room and lounge.”

Zimmerman’s creative direction in the kitchen earned Sepia a Michelin star every year since 2011. He has also been a James Beard Foundation Award finalist for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” from 2012-2015.

But at Proxi, he expands the concept of ‘world cuisine,’ mixing and matching cultures and flavors as if they were fabric swatches for a quilt. For diners, it’s a quick trip around the world…of food. 

Take, for example, the restaurant’s Tasting Menu selections. For $75 Per Person, $45 Wine Pairing, you can start with sharing your choice of three starter plates, including an Asian-inspired Wood Grilled Yuba (dried tofu skin) with Szechuan peppercorn, and sweet soy, or an Indian-inspired Sweet Corn Chaat (seasoned fried dough) with tamarind chutney, cilantro, mint, and sweet yogurt, or a Poached King Salmon Salad, served with young coconut, trout roe, and peanut. Course II may include the Italian-inspired Toasted Masa Cavatelli with chestnut mushrooms, esquites, (Mexican street corn)  and poblano cream, Asian-inspired Grilled Eggplant & Caramelized Miso with furikake, bubu arare, and  umeboshi, and Swordfish Kofta Kebab with a tomato pickle bbq, andbeluga lentils. For Course III, your choices could include Lentil Dumplings palak dal (spinach, lentils, spices and herbs)and preserved lemon chutney, Thai Yellow Curry with black cod, shrimp, and mussels, or a Grilled Berkshire Pork Collar nahm prik pao (Thai chile jam) lemongrass, Thai herb salad. Dessert could be a family-style presentation of Dark Chocolate Marquise withTurkish coffee ice cream, sesame halvah, and cardamom, or a Thai Tea Namelaka, with butter mochi and toasted milk meringue.

Proxi’s Michelin Guide reviewdescribes the West Loop restaurant thusly:Chef Andrew Zimmerman seems intent on presenting his diners with a culinary whirlwind that blows from Thai beef salad to coal-roasted oysters with ssamjang butter and beyond.”  

Theydescribe the dining room as  “effortlessly cool and sleek, with blue-tiled columns set beneath the white-vaulted ceiling. It also features an open kitchen and myriad seating options for everyone—from solo diners to large groups. A front lounge is ideal for lingering and waiting for your party to arrive.”

Proxi and Sepia are located at 565 W. Randolph Street. They are open Monday-Thursday for seatings from 5pm-9pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm-10 p.m.  Happy Hours are Monday-Friday 4pm-6:30pm. For reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Extending your healthy life

Doctor showing tablet screen to an older female patient

During the last century the average life span has increased from 50 to 80 years. A whopping 30-year difference! Better sanitation along with antibiotics, vaccines, and other advances allow us to survive diseases that killed many of us in childhood 100 years ago. Even with the covid pandemic reducing the span by 3 years we are still light years ahead of our forebears. Unfortunately, healthspans do not always match longevity. Healthspans are defined as the period of life that is free of chronic disease or disability. Right now, an American might expect that their last 15 years could be lived with a serious disease. Aging is a large risk factor for cancer and heart disease, not to mention Alzheimer’s and dementia. For years, we’ve been focused on treating specific diseases which can extend our life but not the quality of that life. Now, medicine is starting to focus on extending your healthy life not just the length of your life.

The pillars of aging include the aging of individual cells, stress responses, inflammation, and DNA damage. The variations in these can mostly be the result of environmental differences, but our genes play about 25%. Some people just age slower than others. Some who age faster will suffer more from disability and disease. Scientists are studying ways to clear out cells that no longer divide but linger in the body. These are called senescent cells. But these studies are years away from giving us any treatment, so what can we do in the meantime?

Of course, we all know the four basic steps to better health. They are nutrition, sleep, exercise, and social connections. All are equally important for good health. These steps alone can give you a healthier 10 years because they moderate the biology of aging,  similar to how regular moderate exercise can prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. But one of the best ways to extend our health span is through regular checkups. Think of it as preventative maintenance for your body! Watching cholesterol levels and blood pressure along with lean body mass and bone density can go a long way. So, there is no magic bullet but if you haven’t seen a doctor in more than a year it might be a good idea to make an appointment.

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Clever Moving Tips to Cut Down on Time and Hassle

A young father having fun with his daughter while pushing her in a moving box

Just the mere thought of having to pack the entire house and move it all to a new destination can seem like a daunting task. And it can be if you don’t plan ahead and use simple yet effective strategies to ease the burden. Here are 8 savvy packing and moving tips to make the haul a cinch.

Throw Junk Out – Don’t Pack it

Keep this golden rule in mind before you pack certain items: if you haven’t used it over the past year, you most likely never will. If that’s the case, there’s no sense in packing these never-used items and moving them into your new home, only for them to just take up precious space for nothing.

Most likely, the home you’re moving out of has accumulated quite a bit of ‘stuff’ since you’ve lived there – odds are, a lot of it doesn’t have to be dragged along with you. Instead, create a pile for donation, and a pile for the trash. Getting rid of unused things will drastically cut down on the time and effort needed to pack and move all of your belongings on moving day.

Wrap Your Delicates in Clothing or Towels Instead of Bubble Wrap

Any fragile items – such as glassware, dishes, porcelain figurines, etc – will obviously need extra care and padding when storing them for the big move. But rather than using bubble wrap for this purpose, consider using clothing instead.

First of all, bubble wrap can get pretty expensive, especially with the hoards that you’ll be needing. Secondly, your clothing and linens need to be packed anyway – why take up extra space with bubble wrap when your clothes can serve a purpose?

Use Bags Instead of Boxes

How much space do boxes take up in a moving truck? A lot. How expensive are they? Very. Consider using durable bags instead of boxes when possible.

Not everything in your home is square-shaped and fits perfectly inside a box. Rather than counting on boxes for all of your belongings, throw some bags into the mix. And if you’ve got any suitcases, use these to pack large and bulky items, like your comforters, pillows, and sweaters, which tend to take up a lot of space.

Use Clear Bins For Essential Items

Think about all the items that you’ll need the first day and night that you’ll be in your new home. Things like your toothbrush, shampoo, phone charger, laptop, and other items will be needed within hours of moving. Skip the frustration of looking through every box by storing these must-haves in a clear plastic bin to help you find things a lot easier and faster.

Take Photos

You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll forget how certain shelves were arranged, such as your glasses and dishes. Your shelves may be stacked and organized so perfectly in your old home, but this arrangement will be tough to copy after you’ve taken everything down and stuffed them into moving boxes.

The same can be said for your electronics – taking photos of the cords on the back of your TV and other gadgets will make it a lot easier to remember where they all belong. This will save you both time and hassle.

Don’t Leave Important Documents With the Mover

Crucial papers, like your passports, birth certificates, bank statements, purchase agreements, or any other paperwork with sensitive information on it should be kept with you, and not the movers. These are the last things that you want to go missing during the move.

Leave the Garage Empty

You’ll probably be tempted to fill the garage or attic at your new place with all your boxes that you moved from your old house. Do yourself a favor, and resist this temptation. While your intention may be to deal with them ‘at some point’ in the near future, this usually tends to turn into ‘never.’

Just like we said earlier – if you can go months – or longer – without using certain things, it’s safe to say they can be discarded. If not, you’ll be parking your vehicle on the driveway.

Color Coordinate Your Boxes/Rooms

Labeling boxes is a classic moving trick, and it’s an absolute must. But you can make things even easier on yourself by color coordinating the boxes for each room in the house.

For instance, assign blue for the master bedroom and orange for the kitchen, and so on.

Use colored stickers on each box near the number you’ve designated for each. Once you get to your new home, place a matching sticker on each room’s door. That way the movers will know exactly where each box goes when they finally get there.

Moving isn’t exactly glamorous, nor is it simple. But you can definitely take steps to make it as stress-free and easy as possible so you can spend more time enjoying your new digs.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Be Afraid! Be Very, Very Afraid!!

Happy Halloween graphic with violet fog clouds, bats, and pumpkins

One of Chicagoans’ favorite holidays is being celebrated this weekend with a host of Halloween parties that are not for the faint of heart.  In fact, all should be very, very afraid given Chicago’s haunted history!

Come experience a night of frightful thrills at Chicago’s biggest Halloween costume party, the Haunted Halloween Ball this Saturday (9 p.m.-2:30 a.m.) at the Congress Plaza Hotel (520 S. Michigan Ave.) in the South Loop.  This 122-year-old hotel, which has been classified as one of the most haunted hotels in the world, is being transformed into an abandoned hotel run by zombies in their massive 20,000 square foot ballrooms.  Guests will be entertained by world-renowned DJs and recording artists as well as the hotel’s zombie cocktail servers, the vampire bellmen, and performances by costumed go-go dancers.  Plus, costumed partygoers can enter the Ball’s costume contest and compete for the most outrageous, bizarre, and risqué costumes to win $2,000 in cash and prizes!

Come celebrate Halloween at the 2nd annual Nightmare on Wacker Drive this Saturday (8 p.m.-12 a.m.) at LondonHouse Chicago (85 E. Wacker Dr.) in The Loop.  This lavish party offers partygoers a venture into a captivating, haunted carnival with three spectacular venues consisting of LH on 21 Lounge, the mystical Etoile Ballroom, and LH’s panoramic rooftop each offering a distinct carnival experience.  Plus, attendees can enjoy a premium open bar until 12 a.m. along with live DJs, and a costume contest at midnight where the 1st place winner will walk away with an overnight stay and 2 NYE tickets with 2nd place receiving 2 NYE tickets!

This Saturday (8 p.m.-3 a.m.) is your opportunity to step into the haunting world of a decaying mansion at the Godfrey Hotel’s Haunted Manor located at 127 W. Huron St. in the River North neighborhood.  The hotel’s fourth-floor rooftop is being transformed into a haunted manor filled with dark secrets, ghostly sights, eerie encounters, and more!

The world’s largest rooftop is transforming its expansive space for its Haunted Shipwreck this Saturday (8 p.m.-12 a.m.) at the Offshore Rooftop (1000 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This haunted, sunken pirate ship offers its guests a four-hour premium open bar, passed appetizer bites, a costume contest, plenty of music and dancing, and a night filled with giveaways!  Are you brave enough to walk the plank and get shipwrecked for Halloween?

Have you ever attended a Japanese Horror Halloween party?  Well, Izakaya at Momotaro is back again with their annual Japanese Horror Halloween party this Saturday (7 p.m.-1 a.m.) located at 820 W. Lake St. in the West Loop.  Izakaya is transforming its space into a haunted cinema this year with spine-tingling vintage horror movies and featuring Izakaya bites, special cocktails paying homage to the classic films, and an array of hauntingly delicious desserts.  Don’t let this night of horrors slip through your grasp!

Don’t forget the 26th annual Haunted Halloween Night Parade kicking off from Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street at 7:30 p.m. this coming Tuesday in the Lakeview neighborhood.  Here you will see some of the best Halloween costumes in the city, dancers performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and possibly partake in their spectacular costume contest with hundreds of entrants (sign up is free) vying for $4,000 in cash prizes!

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: A Haunting Legacy at the Loop’s James M. Nederlander Theatre

Photo of James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago

The James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 West Randolph Street, stands on the shoulders of the two theatres that preceded the Nederlander at that spot. And rumor has it…the ghost of one predecessor haunts the theatre to this day.

In recognition of both Halloween and Fire Safety Month, it seems appropriate to mention the history of the Nederlander, which recently made Condé Nast’s list of the “42 Most Haunted Places in the World. The Nederlander, according to Secret Chicago, sits at number 12 on the list, just after The Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Most of the local ghost tours take you to this spot for its long, storied history.

Currently, the home of the touring company of ‘Hamilton’ through December 30, this ornate theatre opened November 23, 1903 as theIroquois Theatre.  It was hailed as being fireproof.

A Haunting We Will Go…

If the name sounds familiar, the Iroquois Theatre was the ‘fire-proof’ building that became the site of the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history. As Smithsonian Magazine recounts it, there were more than 1700 people in the theatre that day, 600+ standing room…mostly women and children enjoying winter break. According to the magazine, “During a performance of the comedy-musical ‘Mr. Bluebeard,’ on December 30, 1903, as the show began its second act at 3:15 that afternoon, a spark from a stage light ignited nearby drapery. “Attempts to stamp out the fire with a primitive retardant did nothing to halt its spread across the flammable decorative backdrops” recalled The Smithsonian Magazine. “Chicago native and actor Eddie Foy, dressed in drag for his next scene, attempted to calm the increasingly agitated audience. He ordered the orchestra to continue playing as stagehands made futile attempts to lower a supposedly flame-retardant curtain, but it snagged.”

Windy City Ghosts picks up the narrative. “People were rushing out of the seats. This did not do much good though because they could not easily find any exits. The exits of the theatre were not labeled. Plus, the doors had used what is known as a bascule lock. These locks are popular in theatres in Europe but not in Chicago. The people could not figure out how to unlock the doors to escape.” 

As a result, hundreds of people were trampled, then burned in the commotion. Others lost their lives when they jumped off the fire escapes off the upper gallery.

Tragedy spurs change

Just as other fires inspired safety changes, the Iroquois fire prompted widespread implementation of safety features that we take for granted today, according to Wikipedia sources. These include the panic bar, asbestos fire curtains, and doors that open outward. The exterior of the Iroquois was intact, so the theater was rebuilt, renamed and reopened as the Hyde & Behman’s Music Hall in September 1904. In October 1905, it was rechristened as the Colonial Theatre. It remained active until the building was demolished in 1925, and the new Oriental Theater began operating. The Oriental Theater operated, in various forms, until 2019, when the Nederlander Organization took over the building through its Broadway in Chicago connection.

Death Alley and its legacy 

The fire’s recorded death toll reached 602. Legend has it, according to Choose Chicago, that it took more than five hours to retrieve the bodies, and the alley behind the theatre, known now as Couch Place, functioned as a temporary morgue. Today, Choose Chicago says, “reports of faint cries, apparitions, and feelings of being touched or even pushed by invisible entities have been reported in that same spot — hence the nickname “Death Alley.” Also, the Chicago Loop Alliance reports If you travel down this alley, pay attention: You could experience a cold breeze over your shoulder or hear whispers of your name called by those who died in the fire.

Other Ghostly Images 

According to American Ghost Walks,paranormal activity related to the fire continues to this day. Apparitions have been observed plunging to their deaths.  Fire has been observed bursting outside the back of the theater. The smell of smoke is not an uncommon occurrence. But according to iHeartRadio blog, of its spirited sightings, “the most well-known ghost is the Woman in White, a spectral figure said to appear in the balcony area, dressed in white attire. She is often spotted watching performances from the back rows before disappearing. Nederlander Theatre’s legacy as a cultural gem is matched only by its mystifying tales, offering theater enthusiasts and those curious about the metaphysical a chance to experience history that extends beyond the footlights.”

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Farm to table began at Logan Square’s Lula Café

Farm-to-fork concept - social movement which promotes serving locally grown small farm foods at restaurants and schools

Opened in 1999, Logan Square’s Lula Café predated the ‘farm to table’ movement in Chicago. And for 24 years, Co-owner/Executive Chef Jason Hammel and his wife, co-owner Amalea Tshild have building some pretty impressive street credibility. They’ve been twice-nominated as a finalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes. 

They were at the top of my list for researching outstanding brunches in the city. 

Some of their moderately priced breakfast and brunch farm-to-table offerings include a SMOKED TROUT SCRAMBLE Arugula, dill, cream cheese, house potatoes, and toast. NUT AND DATE GRANOLA pairsseasonal fruit and  house-made yogurt. Their CLASSIC LULA BREAKFAST BURRITO hasavocado, tomato, potato, cheddar, green chile soffritto, and soft scrambled eggs. A SMOKED SALMON RILLETTE boastsaKlug farm apple, radish, boiled egg, and a seeded rye cracker. But the presentation defies these simple ingredients. Each plate seems artistically designed. Lula’s ROYALE” (LULA BREAKFAST SANDWICH SERIES) boasts a griddled pork loin, marcona almond romesco, arugula, paprika aioli, and a ‘sunny’ egg. 

Lunch items include THE “TINEKA” the classic Lula spicy peanut butter sandwich with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, and sprouts. I would never have thought to put any of these ingredients together, but they work. Their CHICKPEA AND FENNEL TAGINE hasgreen harissa, golden raisin, preserved lemon, arugula, and grilled bread.

Dinner entrees include PASTA YIAYIA, withbucatini, feta, garlic, brown butter, and cinnamon, GRILLED WILD ATLANTIC MACKEREL with a confit rosette potato, and carmen pepper sott’olio. GLAZED DELICATA SQUASH has Italian black rice, Klug farm pears, black olive, and matsutake.

Google reviews were nearly perfect. 

“Fantastic gem of a place that stands out in spite of all the other amazing spots in the Logan square area,” wrote one.” The restaurant has a very cute ambiance and décor. Food and drinks were extraordinary. Very attentive service as well. We had to wait for over an hour for a Sunday brunch but our experience exceeded expectations.”

“Sometimes places are over-hyped. Lula is not one of those. The meals are well balanced, just right, and everything you want. I will be dreaming of this breakfast burrito for a while, crispy tortilla with cheesy eggs inside. The side sauces are incredible. French omelette was creamy and side salad was very fresh. The trout scramble was also insanely delicious. Not a crumb was left behind! Wait was 1.5hrs on Sat morning for a table of 5 at 10am. Wait on a Monday (holiday) at 9:30 for a table of 4 was 30min. They bring a super cute postcard with the check. Hostess was friendly and helpful, all staff was very attentive. They kept the coffee flowing and the food came very quickly.

A note about their service fee…

Prices may be a bit lower on food for this reason: As their FAQ sheet notes, a 20% service charge is added “to pay employees a fair living wage and benefits. A service charge model helps us provide a consistent income for all members of our team in a way that the old tip system did not.”

Lula Café is located at 2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard. They are open Wednesday-Monday, 9am- 3pm for breakfast and lunch, then re-opened from 5pm-10pm for dinner. They are closed on Tuesdays. Reservations are only available at dinner. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Fall tasks

Worker cleaning gutters on a customers home

Summer is over and winter will soon be here. Now is the time to make sure your home and landscape is ready for the cold months ahead! Around the Chicagoland area we’ve had relatively mild temperatures along with moderate rain. So, take advantage of this decent weather and take care of the many tasks that need to be done. 

All bush and tree trimming should be done by now, so make sure you have enough mulch around for the winter. Make sure to leave several inches clear around the tree trunks and the bases of bushes. Continue with weekly deep watering with the hose trickling till the ground freezes. Trees and shrubs need a good supply of water to get through the winter and to really take off when spring comes. 

Make sure all of your drainage systems are in good working condition including gutters and downspouts. If you don’t have gutter covers, make sure the gutters are free of leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters and downspouts will cause ice damming in the winter and can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. If you don’t feel safe on the ladder or it’s simply too high, hire a professional. If you do get up there do a cursory check of the roof. Look for loose shingles, especially around openings like vents and chimneys. Check the drains around the house also. They tend to get full of leaves and dirt this time of year with fall rains. The point is to divert all water away from your foundation. Walk around the house checking the foundation and making sure it is all clean, with no piles of mulch or leaves up against it. 

The grass you planted last month should be getting established by now, but remember it will still need to be watered if mother nature isn’t providing enough. An inch a week is sufficient. The new grass can be hand watered. You want it grown enough to survive winter and take off in the spring. Bring in any plants you brought out for the summer and put them in a sunny room. 

Do you have any other fall tips for the home and landscape?

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago