Friday, July 19, 2013

“Tom Jones” rocks 94 West at dinner concert

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“Tom Jones” rocks 94 West at dinner concert

Celebrity impersonator and Tom Jones look-a-like John Truncali rocked the audience at a dinner concert at 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant Thursday, inspiring patrons to sing-a-long to popular tunes that also included the Temptations, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond.

The performance is a part of a summer series of concerts hosted by 94 West to celebrate the restaurants 10 years anniversary this year.

“We’re happy to have so many great friends and patrons who love to come to our restaurants and enjoy great steak and seafood,” said owner-operator Maria Sord.

“And nothing makes for a great dinner evening than to listen to a professional entertainer sign some of the greatest songs many of us have heard over the years.”

The Orland Park restaurant, 94 West Steak & Seafood, is located at 15410 S. 94th Avenue. It’s open every night until 10 pm, with a special popular brunch every Sunday from 10:30 am until 3:30 am.

“People come from all over for the food and the entertainment,” Sord said proudly. “We especially love John Truncali because his repertoire of music includes some of the greatest rock, soul and blues songs. The audiences love him and so do we here at 94 West.”

Truncali’s smooth voice captures the heart and soul of the songs. Even while enjoyignt heir meals, customers were clapping along and singing the words to “My Girl” by the Temptations, Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea,” and of course an array of Tom Jones songs.

A dead ringer for Tom Jones, Truncali has worked as a performing Lead Vocalist, Band Leader, Arranger and Guitarist as well as Radio Studio Announcer and Personality, Commercial Voice-over and Jingle Artist and Actor in Chicago.

In addition to the many impressions featured in his shows, John’s own singing voice has been described as an exciting blend of Tom Jones and Engelbert. Show reviewers have named him “The Italian Tom Jones” and 
“The One Man Legends Show”.
His vocal impressions mix with comedy and humor, and his evening bill includes songs from Tom Jones, Elvis, Engelbert, 
Neil Diamond, The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.), Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, 
Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Frankie Valli, Joe Cocker, and many more, interacting with The Godfather (Marlon Brando), Jackie Mason, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former President Clinton, 
Rodney Dangerfield, Sylvester Stallone just to name a few. New impressions are added daily.

You can read more on Truncali at his web site at

Sord said that Truncali’s appearance will be followed by many other entertainers and artists including the popular rock & roll band Legacy, appearing at 94 West Steak & Seafood on July 19 and 26, and August 16 and 30 on the outdoor patio next to the restaurant’s spectacular waterfall array each night beginning at 7:30 pm.

On August 8, 94 West hosts a tribute to Elvis with entertainer renown Bob West, and the Jazz Standandars Frank & Tim.

Maria’s in-laws owned the Candlelight Restaurant which was located at 55th and Spaulding on Chicago’s Southwest Side. It was opened in 1957. The Candlelight was famous for its Green Noodles.

“I learned from my mother, Mary, and father, John, that the key to a great restaurant is to serve great tasting great quality food as if you were cooking for your own family,” said Bryan Sord. “That’s what they did and that’s what we do here at 94 West.”

Sord said that they opened 94 West as a tribute to the culinary talents of his parents, who have both since passed away.

For more information on 94 West Steak & Seafood and on its entertainment schedule, visit them online at and find them on Facebook.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dave and Busters just got unfun; in Contrast Harrahs for Adults is a blast!

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Dave and Busters just got unfun: in Contrast Harrahs for Adults is a blast!

My son loves Dave and Busters in Orland Park. Dave and Busters is a kids hangout formed by two guys who loved to eat an delay video games, the promos claim.

But the reality is Dave and Busters is just another business and their goal is to make profits. Just this past week, Dave and Busters jacked up the costs of its prizes.

You see, parents purchase credits on a Dave and Busters credit card and the kids use the credits to play games. SOme games are just for fun. Others are for coupons in the form of tickets. When you collected a certain number of tickets, you could cash them in for prizes.

For example, my son is a big baseball fan. Dave and Busters offers autographed baseballs and autographed baseball cards. The baseballs were 7,500 coupons and the cards were 1,000. Recently, though, greed pushed the prices up to 9,000 coupons for the baseballs and 1,500 for the cards.

It may not seem much but the difference between 7,500 and 9,000 tickets is about $35 in game play. Yes, my son enjoys it. Dave and Busters is basically teaching him how to be a degenerate gambler. Or is that me allowing him to be taught?

The Coin Push machine at Dave and Busters

The tickets you get when you win. You turn them in as they accumulate and they get credited on your credit card. Each ticket is now worth 2 instead of just 1.

Alison and I went to Harrah's casino this past weekend. We don't go often and we still had cards that were issued in 2000. We split $500 and each played and we played all night. I was willing to loss the $500 as long as we could play all night and have fun. It's the cost of doing fun. We actually came out a head and left with $980.

AT the first slot machine we played, I had no idea what was happening and I won $2,000. You don't get silver dollars any more as most of you know. You get a little paper coupon. My rule is simple. I don't cash in the coupons. I cash them out and pocket them and play whatever cash I have. At the end of the night, I played $420 but left with coupons totaling $980.

One of the big attractions at the casino is the buffet. Harrah's has the Paula Deen Kitchen, although I think they are dumping her after she admitted -- stupidly -- to being a racist and using the "N-Word." The N-Word should never be used. And if you have ever used it and are going to acknowledge, then you should also admit it is stupid. But she made it sound like it was an everyday thing. These days, the queen of southern food and recipes is imploding as everyone is dropping her like a hot potato.

Harrah's buffet was pretty good.

But I can't say the same about the restaurant at Dave and Busters. The food really sucked. ANd it was expensive.

I understand at Harrahs and other casinos, the games have become complicated. For example, the penny and nickel slots really soak up more money than the $1 slots. You may only play a Penny in the Penny slot but to win anything, you have to play 75 pennies at a shot. You might as well go to the $1 slots, play $3 and win 10 times more if you hit the jackpot, or, more likely,t he mini-jackpots that players often hit just enough to keep them at the one-armed bandits.

With the price of the tickets going up at Dave and Busters, my son has lost interest in going there. He recognizes that they're just greedy. And sometimes, that's all it takes to get him out of a bad habit, because that is exactly what Dave and Busters really is, a bad habit.

If you are going to play to win tickets, the best games are the SPin the Wheel. It takes 10 credits from you for each play, about 50 cents. You can easily win 60, 90 or 200 tickets on a spin, although sometimes you might just get 10 tickets. But you can easily win 1,000 tickets, which is the jackpot on the spin. Aaron did that several times.

There are other games like the coin push game where you drop a coin into the slot and it lands on a slide that pushes other coins over an edge that lands on another shelf and that pushes more coins over the edge. Each coin over the edge wins something like  9 tickets. (I'm not taking notes there so I'm just estimating. Could be slightly more or slightly less. But you get the point.)

If you play smart, you can easily accumulate 7,500 tickets in 2 hours of play and $60 worth of credits. Dave and Busters gives you a credit card and you slide the card to play the credits and buy credits that are automatically added to your card. The card remembers the total number of tickets. Dave and Busters uses a weight system to determine how many tickets you have. You bring them up in a clump and put them in a plastic bucket and the machine weighs it and tells you that you have 1,500 tickets for example. Aaron and I counted the other night and we claimed we had 3,240 tickets but the bucket which was packed, said we only had 3,150. That was a difference of 90 tickets. But who is going to sit there and count out each ticket -- which now is worth 2 instead of just one. Less paper.

I don't trust Dave and Busters anymore. And when you don't trust someone, you loss the excitement and the fun.

Dave and Busters used to be exciting and fun. But Aaron and I are looking for a new place to spend our money. SOmeplace where we feel a little more comfortable in the area of trust and fairness.

9,000 tickets for a baseball. No way.

Trust them to weigh the tickets accurately, not so confident.

As for the food, it's just not worth eating any more.

Photos from Harrah's Casino. You definitely want to go back to Harrah's. The place is clean. We had fun winning, and losing but winning for a long time. It was well worth it. And the food at the Harrah's buffet was phenomenal, only $13 per person, and we got a discount on our Rewards Card for playing slots.

This happens a lot.

My favorite game is the Wheel of Fortune but the game doesn't play fair. You should be able to spin the wheel when the "Spin" icon pos up in each column but the slot machines only allows you to spin the wheel when they line up in a straight line or an up, down and up zig-zag. (Above is down, up and up which they say is not a winner. That sucks. Fix that machine!)

Read the instructions on the same machine. Seems a little misleading to me. But even staying away from the Wheel of Fortune Machine, we still had a lot of great fun at Harrah's in Joliet.


-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Steady and vibrant" 94 West Steak & Seafood in Orland Park Celebrates 10 years

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"Steady and vibrant" 94 West Steak & Seafood in Orland Park Celebrates 10 years

94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant celebrates 10th Anniversary
Owner says restaurant is "steady and vibrant"
Orland Park, Il -- Brian Sord is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his popular steak and seafood restaurant, 94 West, predicting the next 10 years will be even better.

Raised in a restaurant family, Sord opened 94 West Steak & Seafood in 2003 at 15410 S. 94th Avenue in Orland Park at a time when everyone said the economy would make it a real challenge.

But Sord said he used what he learned working side-by-side with his parents, and combined it with one of the best gourmet chefs in the Midwest to create a restaurant that prides itself on serving the best tasting prime steaks and seafood anywhere.

“My parents owned the Candlelight Restaurant which was located at 55th and Spaulding on Chicago’s Southwest Side and was opened in 1957,” recalls Sord, who notes that the Candlelight was famous for its Green Noodles.

“I learned from my mother, Mary, and father, John, that the key to a great restaurant is to serve great tasting great quality food as if you were cooking for your own family. That’s what they did and that’s what we do here at 94 West.”

Sord said that he opened 94 West as a tribute to the culinary talents of his parents, who have both since passed away.

“In addition to serving only the best, I also learned that a restaurant was not just about serving the best food. It was also about how you served the public. You respected them. You treated them like they are a part of the family. You make them feel like they are special and to me, they all are,” Sord said.

Sord said that during his nearly 50 years in the restaurant business at his parents’ side and now with his wife operating 94 West Steak & Seafood, he always took his business responsibilities seriously.

“That’s why I was so disturbed when it was wrongly reported a number of weeks back that I was having financial and mortgage problems at 94 West. It has nothing to do with 94 West. We don’t have any business or property issues there.  It was a financial issue involving another property in Will County and Marquette Bank. The bank didn’t want to renew the mortgage on that commercial property. That caused all kinds of rumors and stories about the restaurant 94 west,” said Sord, noting the issues are in the process of being worked out.

“People are asking me if I am closing my restaurants and the answer is no. We are not closing. I expect 94 West to do even better during the next 10 years.”

Sord’s restaurants have been recognized as among the very best by several regional news media.

“When people come to 94 West, they expect and they get the best quality steak and seafood anywhere. Our Sunday brunch is a phenomenal success because of the assortment of food and the quality,” Sord said of the brunch which runs every Sunday from 10 am until 3 pm.

“My wife, Maria, and I understand the concerns that might be out there but the rumors are not true. What is true is that 94 West is the best steak and seafood restaurant in Chicagoland. No one even comes close and the people who say that are our customers. We’re so grateful for their support and I promise that this next decade will be even better than the first.”

Sord says 94 West continues to host and book banquets and private parties, and he stresses bookings remain “steady and vibrant."

For more information on 94 West, visit their website at