Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Signature Room, Observatory: Competitors in High Places

Chicago Tribune

July 14, 2010

By Melissa Harris

Rick Roman coasted down in the elevator — all 95 floors — from his Signature Room restaurant in the John Hancock Tower to the lobby. There, he stared at an ad for the building's observatory, featuring an electric blue cocktail and the slogan "Drink it all in at Chicago's highest cafe and bar."

Wait a minute, Roman thought, the observatory is on the 94th floor.

Roman assumed an outside ad agency didn't realize a restaurant occupied the two floors above the observatory.

But no mistake.

"We're a cafe and bar," said Daniel Thomas, general manager of the observatory. "They're a restaurant and lounge."

When I pointed out that the Signature Room has a bar too, Thomas responded: "We're not solely a bar. We're a 'cafe and bar.' … It's a simple fact that we're the only 'cafe and bar' at this height in the world."

Huh? And how is that different from a restaurant and lounge?

"It comes down to your interpretation of 'cafe and bar.'"

McKinsey alums merge

Aon executives dubbed their $4.9 billion deal to acquire Hewitt Associates "Project Twin Peaks," according to a regulatory filing. Aon CEO Greg Case initiated the talks by contacting Hewitt CEO Russell Fradin, according to Aon spokesman David Prosperi. Prosperi said Case has long-admired Hewitt, and the CEOs both previously worked at McKinsey & Co. (Fradin for 18 years; Case for 17). Their time at the global consulting firm overlapped for eight years.

National manufacturing strategy?

A bill designed to create a four-year "national manufacturing strategy" will get its first hearing in Congress on Wednesday, said U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, a Western Springs Democrat who is sponsoring the bill.

The proposal is modeled on the quadrennial defense review, a process in which top Pentagon officials analyze strategic objectives and threats. Lipinski's measure would require the president to form a similar team to assess the health of and threats to the manufacturing sector.

Bill Hickey, president of Lapham-Hickey Steel in Bedford Park, is scheduled to testify in support of the bill Wednesday.

Lipinski said the proposal, which he has been working on for a year, got the attention of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer after the Alliance for American Manufacturing conducted a poll showing overwhelming support for it. Lipinski said the bill — or a bill that contains the proposal — could be approved by the House before the August recess.

Personnel wrap-up

•Russ Smyth, the former president of McDonald's European operations, is returning to Chicago after resigning as CEO of H&R Block, the tax preparation firm, last week. An H&R spokeswoman said Smyth is becoming CEO of an undisclosed privately held Chicago company. A message left with one of Smyth's relatives was not returned.

•Brian Driscoll has left Northfield-based Kraft Foods, where he was president of sales, customer service and logistics, to become CEO of Hostess Brands, the Irving, Texas, maker of Twinkies and Wonder bread. Driscoll declined to be interviewed.

•Anne Sempowski Ward, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Publishing Co., the producers of Jet and Ebony magazines, resigned Monday before returning from maternity leave, according to a company statement.

The move comes after a string of changes in June: Amy DuBois Barnett was named editor in chief of Ebony, former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was hired as a consultant on a two-month contract, and the company decided to stop searching for a new owner or investors.

On Monday, company spokeswoman Wendy Sparks moved to stomp out speculation that Rogers would succeed Ward.

Rogers "is not being considered for president and COO," Sparks e-mailed.,0,482910.column


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