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BusINess » Andrea Holecek

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Hot dogs to remember

Alex Kutanovski holds three of the many different style of hot dogs his Crown Point business, Maxwell Street Hotdogs, has to offer. (Photograph by Dan Shelton/The Times.)

Alex Kutanovski holds three of the many different style of hot dogs his Crown Point business, Maxwell Street Hotdogs, has to offer.
(Photograph by Dan Shelton/The Times.)

Maxwell Street Hotdogs serves the Vienna beef sausages in almost more ways and with more trimmings than you can count.

“There are 10 different types of hot dogs that all have different toppings, and with all you can get them Chicago-style,” said Alex Kutanovski, who owns and operates the restaurant.

The small diner-style eatery with a drive-through window opened Nov. 1 in the rear third of a family-owned office building on Main Street. Beside hot dogs, offerings include 16 types of sandwiches such as Polish sausages, prime rib sandwiches, Italian beef, hamburgers and patty melts, plus fries, chili, chili cheese fries and more.

The diner’s name is reminiscent of the former Maxwell Street area of Chicago, Kutanovski said.

“Maxwell Street and Vienna beef is kind of a generic name a lot of Polish Sausage,” he said. “I went to Indiana Secretary of State website and saw Maxwell Street was available in Indiana, and knowing people associate Maxwell Street with quality hot dogs and Polish, we chose it.”

An attorney by day, Kutanovski operates Maxwell Street Hotdogs on evenings and weekends and the Chicago Fire Juniors Northwest Indiana soccer club, where he’s part owner, in his spare time.

“They take up a lot of time, but I typically take care of them after work,” he said. “With the soccer club it’s a labor of love that keeps you going. It‘s keeping high school and college kids employed and 200 kids off the street and active. I’ve learned I enjoy my day job, but when I get out of there I think hot dogs and soccer.”
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Tequila Si Cantina expands into Lowell

Chef Casey Anderson prepares steak fajitas at the recently opened Tequila Si Cantina restaurant in Lowell. (Photograph by Tim Hunt/The Times.)

Chef Casey Anderson prepares steak fajitas at the recently opened Tequila Si Cantina restaurant in Lowell. (Photograph by Tim Hunt/The Times.)

Ron and Michele Burget recently opened the second in what they plan will be a long line of Tequila Si Cantina franchises.

Ron, who has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, opened the Lowell location Dec. 3 and is planning to open a third Mexican-themed eatery in Dyer during the spring or early summer. He envisions a fourth and fifth in Winfield and Valparaiso.
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It’s too good not to go

Nada Karas, co-owner of Good To Go by Lucrezia, shows some of the food baskets the store offers. The Chesterton business serves unique, gourmet, and healthy foods. Good To Go also serves olive oil and vinegar bottles that are refillable in the store. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Nada Karas, co-owner of Good To Go by Lucrezia, shows some of the food baskets the store offers. The Chesterton business serves unique, gourmet, and healthy foods. Good To Go also serves olive oil and vinegar bottles that are refillable in the store.
(Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

The Karas’ love of food mixed with job dissatisfaction put them on the path to opening and operating their two restaurants and recently their new Italian deli, Good To Go by Lucrezia.

Michael Karas is the president and Nada Karas is secretary of Karavan Restaurant Inc., the parent of Lucrezia Café in Chesterton, Lucrezia Ristorante in Crown Point and Good To Go by Lucrezia in Chesterton.
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IRS changes may not mean a taxing time

Tax preparer Dorothy Colvin organizes receipts at Precise Accounting and Tax Service in Hammond. Recent changes in the tax law have delaying the filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Tax preparer Dorothy Colvin organizes receipts at Precise Accounting and Tax Service in Hammond. Recent changes in the tax law have delaying the filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Recent changes in the tax law delaying filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions are affecting local tax preparation services as well as their clients.

CPA Robert Clausing, of the Lansing accounting firm of Robert Clausing & Associates, said the delay would be at best, “an inconvenience.”

“We will obviously not be able to file the returns as early as we like,” Clausing said. “We’ll have to hold on to the forms until the government programs are ready to handle them for electronic filing.”
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After tragedy, local woman takes over family business

Owner Beverly Barron Matovina stands in Ted Barron Furniture in Lynwood, which is celebrating it 60th anniversary. Matovina's mother and husband were both killed in an auto accident on May 24, 2009. Matovina was injured in the accident but took over store operations just a week later. (Photograph by Jim Bis/The Times.)

Owner Beverly Barron Matovina stands in Ted Barron Furniture in Lynwood, which is celebrating it 60th anniversary. Matovina's mother and husband were both killed in an auto accident on May 24, 2009. Matovina was injured in the accident but took over store operations just a week later. (Photograph by Jim Bis/The Times.)

Beverly Barron Matovina had expected to eventually take over her parents’ business, but she became owner of Ted Barron’s Furniture in a completely unexpected way.

Her mother, Irene Barron, who owned the store, and husband, Thomas Matovina, a part-time sales associate there, were both killed in an auto accident on May 24, 2009. Matovina was injured in the accident but took over store operations just a week later.
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Local retailers hope Black Friday turn sales golden

Sean Charles, left, and Mark Atchison organize merchandise Thursday that will go on sale on Black Friday at the Schererville Walmart. (Photograph by Tim Hunt/The Times.)

Sean Charles, left, and Mark Atchison organize merchandise Thursday that will go on sale on Black Friday at the Schererville Walmart. (Photograph by Tim Hunt/The Times.)

Holiday shoppers could find better-than-average Black Friday bargains when they begin their hunt early—very early, when retailers are expecting eager crowds.

“We have better pricing than last year,” said Tony Marzilli, manager of the Best Buy store at the Crossings of Hobart. “We definitely have lower prices than last year on similar merchandise and better financing deals than last year.”
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Turkey prices stay flat despite rise in wholesale costs

Lowell resident Julie Otis browses through frozen turkeys Monday at the PayLow grocery store in Merrillville. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Lowell resident Julie Otis browses through frozen turkeys Monday at the PayLow grocery store in Merrillville. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Competition for the consumer dollar has most local grocers keeping Thanksgiving turkey prices significantly below their wholesale costs.

The retail prices of whole frozen birds are comparable to their 2009 price despite a 20 percent year-to-year increase in wholesale cost.

“Turkey production is down 2 percent from last year,” said Purdue University Agricultural Economist Corrine Alexander. “Any time you see production down, you see prices go up.”
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Nick’s Liquors keeps customers in mind

Nick Kikalos Jr., left, and his sister, Liz Kikalos, own the six Nick's Liquor locations including the one recently opened in Merrillville at 8103 Taft Street. (Photograph by The Times.)

Nick Kikalos Jr., left, and his sister, Liz Kikalos, own the six Nick's Liquor locations including the one recently opened in Merrillville at 8103 Taft Street.
(Photograph by The Times.)

Nick Liquors has expanded to six liquor and two tobacco stores give its owners’ children the same opportunities their parents and grandparents gave them.

Nick Kikalos Jr. and his sister, Liz Kikalos, own the six Nick’s Liquor locations including the one recently opened in Merrillville. They also own and operate two Nick’s Cigarettes stores, one in Hammond and the other in Dyer.

“My grandfather came from Greece and opened restaurants that gave my father an opportunity, and my sister and I want to give our children the same opportunities,” Kikalos Jr. said. “From my parents there are 21 grandkids. For any who want to get involved and show an interest, there’s an opportunity.”

His father, Nick Kikalos Sr., and mother, Helen, opened the first Nick’s Liquors in December 1971 at 4702 Calumet Avenue. Now retired, the elder Kikaloses expanded to a second Hammond store in 1982 and to a third location in the city that same year. Other locations followed.

“We built on our success,” said Kikalos Jr., president of Nick’s Liquors.

The Times readers have selected the business as The Best of the Region in 2010 and in the previous nine years. Kikalos says his customers voted for Nick’s Liquors because of its commitment to service and pricing.
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50-year-old seller of leisure items named Illinois Retailer of the Year

Bob Jones Jr., left, and Bob Jones III stand in the Merrillville location of American Sale, which has been in business for 50 years. The seller of adult leisure products, recently named 2010 Illinois Retailer of Year, got its start when Robert "Bob" Jones Sr. was in his teens working as a barber in his father's South Chicago shop. In his free time, he sold flags and balloons on street corners. (Photograph by The Times.)

In the past 50 years, Robert “Bob” Jones Sr. has guided his business as it changed, expanded and became the area’s home recreation superstore, American Sale.

The business, recently named 2010 Illinois Retailer of Year, got its start when Jones was in his teens working as a barber in his father’s South Chicago shop. In his free time, he sold flags and balloons on street corners.

After getting married in 1958, Jones took a three-month rental on a small shop in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood to sell toys for the Christmas season. He used old 5-cent orange crates and plywood to make shelves and a discarded door as a checkout counter and bought toys from Chicago distributors.
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As recession lingers, more people making hardship withdrawals from retirement funds

Christina Rybolt talks about the Hammond house she is trying to sell after moving into her husband's home in Crestwood. "We got married in September, and we've combined two homes," she said. "I can't sell my house. I've been trying for about a year, and I'm still paying the mortgage on it." (Photograph by The Times.)

Like tens of thousands of others, Christina and Keith Rybolt felt they had no choice when they tapped into their 401(k) retirement accounts in 2009 and again this year.

“We got married in September, and we’ve combined two homes,” said 44-year-old Christina Rybolt, who moved to her husband’s residence in Crestwood from Hammond, where she made her home for 17 years. “I can’t sell my house. I’ve been trying for about a year, and I’m still paying the mortgage on it.”

Fidelity Investments, which accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. employers 401(k) plans, recently reported that more than 62,000 workers—2.2 percent of its active participants—initiated a hardship withdrawal from their retirement accounts during the second quarter, an increase of 15,000, or 2 percent, from the same period in 2009.
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