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).
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!!!
Nice place, and not nearly as crowded as the places on Argyle. I have been coming here weekly (at least) for about two years... BUT........... Today they just lost my business for good! On a whim, I stopped in for some snack food and picked up a bag of veggie chips (Aji "Fabulous"). Every bag on the shelf was marked $1.95. The register scanned at $2.49. I confronted the cashier (a young girl, not the usual guy who always checks me out), and asked me to pay first, signaling that she'd get the manager. While I waited, the manager discussed it with the cashier, went back to the shelf for a while, looked at the bags some more, scratched the price tags with her fingernail, scanned the item again, looked at me and said confidently "it's $2.49" I explained that they have to charge what it is marked... wheat they ALL are marked. She just stated that the price tag is wrong, it's $2.49. And proceeded to just stare at me. I looked around for my usual cashier (who has always been very helpful - including finding specific items many times over), but he was not around. Finally, the manager asked "You don't want?". I just took it anyway, figuring that it is "only $.50" -- but what really upsets me is the principle of the thing, and the sad part is that if this part is that for a mere $.50, any business should not hesitate to fix things for the customer. Not here -- I am completely appalled and offended that this woman basically made me feel like I was wrong! Sorry, you lost my business -- from now on I wait in line on Argyle.
We arrived an hour after opening on a Saturday and the line was already there. We were hoping that this was a sign that the food was that good. Unfortunately it was a sign that the payment systems were down, so cash only, the cooks were running late and the servers had no idea about the restaurant. 1)Sat by hostess and given menus, water and coffee. 2)Server comes with menus water and asks if we want coffee. 3)We are ready to order and the server has no clue about the menu. We even thought about ordering by number and she just could not get it. 4) They have whole wheat pancakes so I asked if I could have whole wheat waffles – the server looked at me as if I were speaking Greek. But said she would see. 5)Finally after painfully writing down every item, she submitted our order. 6)No coffee of water refills and 30 min later, the food arrives, but only half and the server behaves as if the missing portion is our fault. 7)A trip back to the kitchen and one plate of the remaining food 8)Another trip to the kitchen and the other plate of food. 9)Eating the meal was a lesson: thinking that just because the name Rosscoe’s is on the front does not mean it tastes anything like Roscoe’s in Cali. The waffles were undercooked and tasted like water and the chicken was overcooked – order plenty of gravy – but you may not get it until you leave. 10)Server brings the bill and tells us the cost will be 50% less since we had to wait so long, but wait, she comes back and says she is wrong – we have to have a coupon for that.
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...
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 !!!
We were so excited when Richie opened this bistro in Mt. Greenwood - we had been long-time customers of his Blue Island Pizza joint, Giuseppe's, and anticipated a more adult place to dine. Our first two or three meals here were delightful, an elegant departure from the typical casual offerings of the neighborhood. Business must have been good, because an expansion soon followed, but the quality of the cuisine began to slip. Were we becoming jaded? We found more to complain about - the menu seldom changed, and the ingredients seemed less fresh. The service suffered at times, and the overall experience simply not what it had been in those first heady months after opening. Richie recently renovated Giuseppe's, now called Richie's Too (see review) and quite frankly, we'd rather go there now. The homemade Italian dishes and sauces done so well at Richie's Too are almost absent here, and the bistro-style fare seems tired. Now that his little family place has grown into an elegant swan, the big sister seems tatty. After all, it is all about the food. We will continue to visit Richie's, in the hopes that improvements will come, and because there are simply so few choices in the area. But we are getting a little tired of settling.
The view and decor of this place make the dining experience highly memorable. For that alone, its worth trip. Take all that away though, and you have an very average Cheesecake Factory...minus cheesecake even being on the menu. I probably wouldn't dine here as my first choice but I would give a fair recommendation to anyone seeking to try it out. Drinks & Appetizers The drinks were highly over priced. I ordered one of their signature drinks and it tasted like sugar water. However, they happened to make a Lemon Drop Martini the exact way my wife likes it so they get a pass on this round. We also ordered crab cakes as an appetizer and I have to say that the Sam's Club brand of homemade crab cakes taste better. #KanyeShrug. Entrees I ordered the Shrimp Scampi and it was good. I'd order that again. The shrimp were seasoned to perfection and the pasta sauce was very flavorful. My wife ordered the Chicken Ravello and substituted the chicken for salmon. She was satisfied and enjoyed her meal, but not overly impressed. So if you take her drink and my entree, you have the perfect combination.
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.