Tollway sign, new website meant to attract diners to Libertyville

With the Bristol Renaissance Faire done for the season, Libertyville on Tuesday reclaimed its advertising spot on northbound I-94 for its "Get Your Forks Out!" dining promotion.

The village on Friday also launched, a new user-friendly website that consolidates information about 86 dining establishments, from the local bar and fast food to more elegant fare.

Both are meant to increase visibility and ultimately business for the village's eateries.

The sign is located on the exterior of the Lake Forest Oasis south of Route 176, the first exit into Libertyville. It was in place from April 1 to June 30 and now will remain to Dec. 2.

It has been slightly altered for greater visibility, although a big fork remains a key element.

The website features an interactive directory, offerings by category and, for the undecided, a restaurant roulette.

"If somebody is not sure what they're eating today and want to give fate a chance, they wait for the image to scroll and hit pause," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator.

The information also can be accessed via the village's municipal webpage, but the new site is more colorful and can offer more flexibility in what information can be provided and accessed by visitors.

"We wanted something that looked a little different from our website, not just a municipal page," Rowe added.

The design and features were created by Libertyville-based Bee-line Communications, Inc., which has been working with the village on the concept since the beginning.

Village officials last year authorized $30,000 for a coordinated promotional campaign highlighting dining, including the sign rental and other work. A similar amount has been approved for the current budget year, which is going toward website work and other pending elements.

The village's traditional printed dining guide, which was introduced in 2010, will continue and is available at 150 locations, including 100 hotels.

With its historic look and feel, Libertyville's downtown in recent years has become home to a diverse assortment of restaurants and businesses, creating an atmosphere that has become a selling point for the community.

"The trend in the industry, in any shopping or entertainment district, is restaurants," Rowe said. "People want that experience."

The village's share of sales tax from drinking and eating places grew from $730,861 in 2015 to $825,198 in 2018, an increase of nearly 13%.

A "Get Your Forks Out" display inside the Lake Forest oasis is part of a village campaign to attract more diners to its restaurants. Courtesy of village of Libertyville
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