Hosting Hell: 10 Things That Will Go Wrong - And How to Prevent Them »
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
If you're a guest at the season's events, make sure that you're part of the celebration, not part of the problem
Trimming and removing trees can be dangerous, if not deadly. Learn how to stay safe and when to call a professional.
6-5-08 Five Stars * * * * * TOTALLY COOL - THE PLACE IN CHICAGO IF THIS IS YOUR GAME: (If your in town and this looks like your style, just go and stop looking, your not going to regret this one, honest!). NOTE: The Crowbar address above is the main office, go to the club located on Kingbury just south of Weed Street just 1 1/4 blocks South of North Ave. in the party district. Any cabbie will know the area and its safe in the immediate area. If you are a traveler to our fine City, honest - just cab it both ways - plenty of cabs all about. Typically doors open at 10pm Friday and Saturday and check the web site crobar.com for current events. This is one of a hand full of 4am bars left in Chicago, so get your disco nap in. This is a great place to be impressed in what an upscale fun dance club can be. I travel allot and have been in many dance clubs and where most clubs lack in character and quality, Crobar just outclasses most others at several levels. The music is a funky house with good feel beat with a different twist - quite dancable. No childish hip hop. Good resident DJ's. There is a wide terrace/DJ level and additional seating table service areas surrounding the dance floor from the second level. The dance floor is open to the roof some 30 feet high, so you NEVER feel compressed by claustrophobic low ceilings. The lighting and sound system is totally first class and is a major attraction to international DJ's that tour through about once a month. The bar serves all classes of drinks and table service is professionally a quality experience. This is a place you can drink beer, cocktails, champaign, martinis and appeals to cool people ranging from 21 to 45 or so. There is also a private room they have a DJ for private parties that's got a touch of class. You can dress "as you like", it has that Chicago "three drops of sleazy for fun" appeal and "two drops of class" and "11 drops of just a fun experience". Crobar also has one of the few nitrogen drops in the City - a few times a night, when the music and the crowd mix feels like it hits the top - they blast this physically cool and totally emotionally cool triple cloud of harmless nitrogen down from 20 feet that is something you will remember forever! Expect to pay a cover charge at the door from $10 to $20 (special events $ check web site) and a call brand drink like 7&7 will be $10. The bar tenders take plastic too and can run a tab for you or your table. You are paying for the quality of the facility. I also find Crobar far cleaner, more comfortable and well maintained than most clubs, so its about "the total experience" and it is a place people stay once there. Its all together big and fun and decorating themes change regularly. Like all dance clubs with excellent sound systems, if you are over 30 or just real smart and have balls enough not to embarrassed, bring ear plugs. The professional attendants in the bathrooms have ear plugs, cologne, etc. Out of all the dance clubs in Chicago, it’s a great experience and probably in the top few if not the best depending on your own niche interests and tastes of music. I know people who travel back to Chicago and just won't miss it for the world. If I ever move from Chicago, it will be one of the characters of Chicago I will miss the most. I give it an honest 5 Stars ***** "JR Chicago" (if this is your cup of tea in music and style and venue $, just go, you really just won't regret it).
For those Chicagoans who think that all Mexican food is basically the same: YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO DON JUAN'S !! As a native of Glencoe who has travelled throughout Mexico on several occassions and who has been practicing law in Southern California for over 25 years, I promise that you will find the food here to be of exceptional quality and rare variety, with service that is family-friendly and knowledgeable. I have a very busy schedule, and I hate to waste time, so I wouldn't bother to write this review if I didn't passionately believe in what I say. One of the best features of the restaurant is that it caters to all palates, including the simple desires of children. You can get tacos (including vennison tacos for the discerning patron), enchiladas(including mole, which are fabulous) and a variety of tamales-all of which are decidedly superior to any I've had either in Chicago or Southern Callifornia (where the competition amongst Mexican restaurants is intense)-or you can "kick it up a notch" with a superlative chicken mole, where the chicken is (God forbid) never overcooked but always succulent ! The steak cubes simmered in a complex red ancho-chili sauce are so tender and the flavor is sublime, and the other beef and poultry dishes are of equal stature. Moreover, the seafood creations are both inventive and feature something still not tasted very often in Chicago: very fresh ocean seafood ! The appetizers range from deliscious clams and shrimp to traditional guacamole, and having lived for decades in the midst of the nation's avocado groves, I assure you that Don Juan procures only the pick of the harvest and knows how to let the rich and nutty flavor of the premium avocados speak for itself, eschewing the habit of other restaurants who have to use spices and hot sauces to mask the mediocrity of their dishes. The desserts are equally interesting and tasty, and the variety of tequilas, and availability of top-grade mescal, might lead you to drift off and believe that you're in a bar in Oaxaca or Vera Cruz rather than Edison Park. The prices are quite reasonable, ranging from rather inexpensive for the top-grade popular fare to higher for the beef and seafood, though still decidedly less than you'd pay for inferior quality dishes of similar ilk at a fancier place. I know many colleagues from Los Angeles who fly through O'Hare on business trips and actually hope they have a layover long enough to allow them to take a taxi to Don Juan for lunch or dinner, so the place is rapidly gaining a national exposure, and for good reason. Chicagoans: It is long past time for your taste buds to tell you what so many of us already know, which is something you will know forever when you walk out of the restaurant with a satisfied stomach and a big smile on your face: "Mexican" food and "fine dining" co-exist in perfect harmony in Edison Park- at Don Juan Restaurant !
It has now been two years since my love affair with Tecalitlan began. I moved to Chicago from San Francisco and was new to the area and so one day I went to explore my new hood. I walked by this building and saw a lot of people going and coming. I looked up to see that it was a Mexican food resturant, only my favorite type of food in the world! I walked in not knowing what to expect and was pleasently surprised by the decor and the homey feel to it. I was greated and seated in the front room with the spectacular ceiling that I want in my apartment!! I ordered the veggie burrito with cauliflower and broccoli and was hooked. The chips and salsa are amaizing and once you start munching away there is no stopping until you reach the bottom of the basket. I come from California and I have never had better mexican food than Tecalitlan. Sorry Tia Margarita's Mexican Restaurant you are still my favorite when I'm in town, but my new favorite all around and the new standard which I hold all other Mexican restaurants is Tecalitlan. I love it here! I have never been dissapointed and hope I will never be. There was only once time where I ate fast and got out as quick as I could. I sat at the bar to have a lunch special with a margarita on a wednesday. The whole time I was there, this really anoying customer could not keep his mouth shut. He was butting into everyone's conversations and almost screaming from one side of the bar to the other to get the end people to notice him. You could tell he was getting on everyone's nerves, even the bar tender. I guess he is a regular there because I have seen him a few times at the bar when I go, but had no idea how unpleasent he was. Never again will I sit at the bar if he is there! Oh well, it's not the resturants fault, there are always anoying peole everywhere! Go to Tecalitlan and enjoy the food, drinks and the atmosphere, its worth the money you spend!
I got about a dozen quotes. Roofers were knocking on my door when they saw my roof. Of the dozen or so estimates, 3 were the same price as Clearing. Checking BBB, etc, I found no concerns with Clearing. For 2800 sq. ft. the job was done in 1 day with 5 laborers. 2 roofs were torn off, bad wood replaced, used Timberline Architectural shingles (my choice). Painless, except for writing the check. I watched most of the job. Replaced my kitchen hood vent that did not have a flapper to keep cold air out. New lead stack. 1 trailer for scrap pulled by F150 truck, 2 vans. The crew did not even take a lunch break and had concrete for kidneys. I just wrote a check for about 1/2 when the crew and materials showed up and paid in full when they were done that day. I also did not sign a contract until they showed up to work so there would be no problem with a time line. Thus, I was in full control of the job. Nothing to complain about. Some of the material had to moved twice and the trailer would have to be dumped by hand. So I estimate they moved 13 tons of material. I figured I got my money's worth. I also paid $1,200 less than the highest quote. No up charges. To get a rating on BBB, the contractor has to pay $500 a year, so many don't join. Research Angie's List online and find out about it. You may be surprised . If you call, please mention Jim B at 6613. That will be my way of saying thank you to Steve, the contractor. He could not get a permit immediately because my town runs a back ground check on contractors that are new to my town. He passed with flying colors. I researched roofing, and I know how the job should be done. This job was done right with no cheating.
I live in an upscale building in Downtown Evanston and Peter had re-done at least three unit's in our building in the 8 years I've lived here (everyone was thrilled with their results, by the way!). I had never hired a contractor before and needed to update my master bathroom so needless to say it was an overwhelming experience having to shop around for a contractor, choose a design that would not only be something I like but that would add to my condo's value, and be something that was affordable. Peter (the owner of PCH Construction) was terrific!!! First off, his pricing was the lowest of the three estimates but more importantly, Peter's 20 years plus of contracting experience proved invaluable. Peter helped advise me every step of the way and even allows his clients to take advantage of the contractor discounts from suppliers. Peter always answers his calls promptly and worked with me to accomplish everything I was trying to do with this space. The job was scheduled to take 4-5 weeks and he finished in exactly 4 weeks as promised! His workmen are long-time employees and TOTAL PRO's as their work and also work with only top vendors for things like the stone fabrication (cutting and installing the vanity top and shower stall threshold), Glass, and vanity cabinet)!!! Everything from the tile to the cabinetry, glass and stone vanity counter top was expertly done. Also, Peter and his staff keep things as clean and quiet as possible during the job, so no worries there either. You will be so glad you went with PCH!!! I could not be happier with the results!!!
I hail from the Isles of the South Seas and had my 1st taste of jerk chicken/turkey/ribs at JAMAICAN ME HUNGRY on my very 1st visit to Chicago just in December. What an WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!! Simply amazing and delicious!!! The meats were soft and soo full of flavor!! The candied yams were just so tasty and ripened plantain on side was a really nice touch (reminded me of home, made the way I like). The staff and owner, Eddie, were very welcoming and friendly. I absolutely loved the reggae music playing in background! I totally LOVED IT!!! #MeLove #JamaicanMeHungry It truly is THEEE #BestJamaicanFoodInTown Trust this island girl, you will LOVE IT!!! That's right folks! Try this spot and taste the BEST JAMAICAN FOOD in town!! MENU: Jerk Chicken/Rib Tips/Shrimp/Catfish/Tilapia... Curry Chicken/Shrimp/Goat... Escovitch Red Snapper, Salmon, Turkey Tail, Oxtail, Brown Stewed Chicken, Candied yams, Plantains... **Sides: Red Beans & Rice, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, White Rice, Cabbage and Carrots... They have just added Jerk Tacos, Jerk Chicken Salad, Jerk Shrimp and a whole lot more. Stop in to see their latest additions. I recommend you call ahead and place your orders. Ohhhh and mention my review/name to get $2 off on a whole jerk chicken! Their hours of operation: Monday-Saturday 10am -10pm Sunday 11am - 7pm Phone (773)952-2121. Catering is available...
I stopped in to Bad Dog Tavern for a bite before a concert I was attending accross the street. I had just arrived from the Detroit area and was hungy! I found the place a little dark on inside from the middle of the bar back but was greeted by a friendly hostess and seated by the open windows at front of the bar. Could see much better there. The menue looked yummy and the drinks sounded great. My waitress came to take my drink and food orders and was very pleasant as well and was happy to help me select a drink. The food didn't take too long to arrive. Looked great tasted great! I ordered the Pesto Chicken Sandwich which had cheese and roasted red peppers on it as well. There was some of the seed/membrane on one of the pepper strips and could've used a bit more of the pesto but overall the sandwich was tasty. Tender chicken, plenty of cheese, fresh bread. The sandwich was served with yummy lightly seasoned fries that also had bits of (what I'm guessing was) parmisan cheese and a crisp dill pickle spear. My drink was delicious as well (got some kind of tropical mix - sorry I can't remmeber the name of it). Bad Dog Tavern is in a neat part of town so it was also fun to watch the people that were walking around the neighborhood. A nice mix of folks. Good, friendly service. Fresh, yummy food. Good seating. Very reasonably priced for Chicago!
My husband and I have been going to Cesars Restuarant for at least 10 years. The place is casual and with very good wait staff, they are very warm and welcoming. We personally have gotten to know Cesar, the owner. He comes out of the kitchen and welcomes and thanks his customers. They have a varity of music that they play, and if you are a sport fan, they have two or more big screen t.v.s. My favorite is the mini burritto's. My husband likes the huge regular burritto's. The complimentory chips and salsa is out of this world, they make their own homemade salsa and fry their own chips ( they are still warm when they come to the table). My friends have had there fajitas, the portions are so big ,you can share with someone or bring a very big appitite. They also have great soup and even a mexican pizza that is to die for!!!! The beef they cook is on an open flame and it is fabulous. Let's not forget what they are famous for....... The Killer Margaritas. They come in all flavors and frozen or on the rocks, what ever your fancy is. They have great views from their window seats, if you are a people watcher. I can't say enough good about this place, I go every chance I get. Try for yourself....you won't be dissappointed. Just a little warning..... they are very popular on the weekends. Susan and Robert Scott
My lady and I walked into the Girl & the Goat at 7ish on a Friday night with no reservation and were eating within 45 minutes, sure we were at the bar but it wasn't long after that that the hostess called our name for a table. We decided to stay at the bar and let a friend I'd bumped into take the table but, like I said, 7 on a Friday night and less than an hour wait is not something that can be complained about. The only thing I didn't love about this place was the space itself. I felt like the decor was a bit disjointed, exposed brick, charred wooden planks, reclaimed wrought iron fire place dealies gives most of the restaurant a rustic feel that much of the menu shares but the bar area did not. That being said, this place is amazing. I'm a big fan of the smaller shareable plates style of eating so that was a winner for me. My date and I started with a loaf of fresh baked bread with a Wisconsin beer cheddar and a plate of oysters that were light and delicious. From there we ordered a few plates to share; pan fried shisheto peppers, sauteed skate, wood roasted pig face, and a goat belly served with lobster and crab meat that simply melted in your mouth. Everything was perfect from the cocktails to the food to the service. Get here soon.
This was my first remodeling project and to say I know absolutely, nothing about it is an understatement. I can confidently say that I know the very best contractor in Chicago: the owner of PCH Construction Company, Mr. Peter ! He deserve more than 5 stars! He was so patient and helpful to us, he spent an hour just going over all the things we want to do and answered all our questions. The whole time he's so sweet and pleasant so you don't feel bad asking at all. then he gave us a very detailed quote with very good price. Peter was always accessible by phone and would promptly accommodate our questions, concerns, and time frames for different phases of the project. He and his crew were very courteous and industrious; they arrived on time each morning and worked hard all day. They were excellent, trustworthy, very clean and respectful of the house. They set up the first day to keep things clean, like the floors and rugs, and then also cleaned at the end of every day and took the construction debris away. A pleasure and easy to work with, friendly to our dogs, professional from start to finish. We are very pleased with the end result of our kitchen and bathroom projects provided by PCH Construction Company. Highly recommended !!!
There has perhaps never been a better tool for do-it-yourself home handymen than the internet. With detailed instructions and videos explaining how to perform a number of common maintenance and renovation tasks around a house, an untrained homeowner might be surprised at how much he or she can accomplish with a quick search online. But even with all of this information, there are still many jobs that lie far outside the scope of most DIY enthusiasts. General contractors are there to fill in this gap.
A general contractor specializes in seeing a home remodel or repair project through from start to finish. To do this, the contractor works with the client - whether they are a homeowner or business - to nail down the scope of the work. Then he or she will turn to one or more subcontractors for specific tasks, like equipment operation, design, electrical work or whatever else is needed.
In essence, general contractors could be thought of as middlemen between a homeowner or business owner and any number of specialists. To get their money's worth, many assume they should just "cut out the middleman" and hire specialists directly, but this often proves more difficult in practice. General contractors won't be completing an entire project by themselves, but should have a long list of dependable experts who can work together and accomplish any task. They might also serve as the manager on the site of a construction project, overseeing workers and providing guidance and assistance when needed. For larger projects, though, the contractor might only handle administrative matters and employ a foreman or other professional for on-site supervision.
There are many general contractors who also specialize in certain tasks themselves. There is usually at least one general contractor on hand to organize the construction of an entire home, for example. But general contractors could also help a homeowner add an additional bedroom, build an in-ground pool or complete a major landscaping project. They could also work with a business to add or improve office space, whether that means making more room or converting a commercial building from a nail salon to a restaurant. Basically, if it's a job that involves building or repairing, a general contractor probably knows how to get it done.
No matter what the exact job may be, a contractor will probably need to accomplish several other essential tasks in pursuit of the ultimate goal, which may include:
Every general contractor performing any kind of work on a project must be licensed to do so in their state. The guidelines for the specifics on licensing vary from state to state. Some states might only require registration of contractors, which is different from licensing. Registration typically means that there must be a written record of what work is being performed and by whom, but it does not guarantee professional knowledge. Licensing, on the other hand, involves an examination process to assess professional competence.
Whether your state requires licensing or registration of contractors, there should be a record of most professionals willing to complete certain projects in your area. Check your state or county website for more information. In states that require licensing, every licensed contractor's contact information is available online or from another public source.
Not every project needs to be completed by a licensed or registered contractor. If it's just a minor job that won't take more than a day or two, and will cost less than a few hundred dollars, it's likely not necessary to find a licensed or registered contractor. However, anything bigger or more expensive, or a project involving plumbing or electrical work, needs to be completed by a licensed or registered professional.
General contractors also must be covered by an insurance policy. This should include liability coverage for any property damage that could be inflicted in the course of a job. It should also include a worker's compensation policy in case anyone is injured on the job. Before hiring a contractor for anything, ask for written proof of this insurance to see exactly what is covered.
A number of trade associations for contractors in the U.S. exist. Some of the biggest include:
Most trade associations for general contractors will provide references for anyone looking to hire a contractor for a specific project. They may also provide a number of benefits for their members, including assistance with licensing, training, insurance and business development.
No matter what you need accomplished, you want to choose a contractor who can get the job done right at a reasonable price. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure you find a trustworthy general contractor.
The first, and perhaps most reliable, way to find a general contractor is to ask friends and family members for a recommendation. If you know anyone who has had major work done on their home, particularly if it's a similar job, ask them who they hired and if they were pleased with the result. You could also ask neighbors about who they've hired if you notice work being done on their house. Many remodeling contractors post signs in front of homes to advertise their services. As a general rule, it's rarely a good idea to hire a contractor who solicits work by going door to door.
If you are considering hiring a contractor without a personal recommendation, ask the contractor for references from past clients, and do as much background research on them as possible. Look for any complaints (or compliments) online to get a better idea of their track record. There are a number of websites specializing in connecting contractors with people or businesses who need work done. These sites may also allow past clients to submit their own reviews of the contractor.
Before hiring a contractor, make sure you are both in agreement on the project's budget. It's normal for most contractors to charge clients a premium not only for the labor expenses and zoning expertise, but for acquiring the materials as well. Be as clear and concise as possible regarding what you'll be purchasing yourself and what you will be paying the contractor to complete. Homeowners may be able to find a better deal on raw materials when they purchase these directly, but they first need to be sure they aren't buying the wrong things.
Don't forget to discuss how the project will be finalized and what will be done about cleanup. Plans for how the work site will be cleaned at the end of each day as well as at the conclusion of work need to be put in writing. An experienced general contractor should make every effort to keep the workspace clean and prevent dirtying or damaging any other area. Even so, talk with the contractor about the daily schedule, the logistics of transporting workers and equipment, and how cleanup will be handled.
As previously mentioned, you need to make sure to follow any state and local regulations regarding construction work, which includes hiring a licensed or registered general contractor. Ask the contractor for proof of their certification before signing anything, as well as their proof of insurance. You should also check your homeowners insurance policy to see if they offer coverage for contracted work. You may want to call your insurance provider and ask for more details on what your plan will and won't cover.
Perhaps the best way to feel safe about a contractor and the work being done is to hire a contractor you trust. This is why relying on personal references from friends and family is so important, and will often provide a great deal of peace of mind. If you aren't able to obtain a reference, work to conduct extensive research on the contractor as well as the work you are hiring them to perform. This should bring everyone's expectations into alignment and result in a safe work environment.
Before any money changes hands, there should be a contract to sign. Make sure the specifics of the work to be done and all costs are listed in the contract, right down to the most precise details. If you forget to have something included in the contract after signing it, there's rarely a chance of recourse.
Once the specifics of the job are nailed down, be sure to discuss the payment schedule with the contractor. This is important because paying too much up front offers the homeowner minimal leverage if the quality of work does not meet expectations or contractual specifications. Try to establish a reasonable pay schedule with the contractor, such as paying 10 percent of the total cost for each 10 percent of the work that is completed. It's a good idea to include this payment plan in the contract as well.
Finally, look into getting a lien release signed before work begins. If there is ever a dispute regarding payment over the course of the project, a contractor or subcontractor could place a payment claim, or lien, on your property. This can trigger a long legal process that may be frustrating. To avoid this, ask the contractor to sign a lien release, which is a legal agreement that states that any payment accepted is final. This can come in handy if a contractor has his or her own payment issues with their subcontractors. Signing a lien release form certifies that any payment made by a client to the contractor is enough to pay for any goods or services rendered. A lien dispute could also be prevented by performing due diligence prior to picking a contractor, as any contractor with good credit and a long track record of satisfied clients should have no trouble paying for materials and labor once all contract conditions have been met.
Once work is underway, it's never a bad idea to check up on the progress of the job, either by staying in touch with the contractor over the phone or visiting the site in person. If you work with a trustworthy professional, it's probably best to keep your distance and allow everyone to stay busy. If you want to keep an eye on things, make sure workers wear the right safety gear and that everything looks to be moving along according to schedule. Finally, once work is finished and you are satisfied, be sure to thank your contractor and tell friends or family members about your experience.