On Wednesday, September 16, the City of Highland Park hosted a virtual meeting for restaurants. City officials included Mayor Nancy Rotering, City Councilman Alyssa Knobel, City Manager Ghida Neukirch, Assistant City Manager Rob Sabo, and Community Development Director Joel Fontane, Business Development Manager Carolyn Hersch, Business Development Assistant Melissa Rosen, and Deputy City Clerk Ashley Palbitska. Jim Lederer, the owner of Bluegrass restaurant, co-chaired the meeting, focusing on the business operations segment of the meeting.
City Manager Neukirch overviewed restaurants options to enhance their outdoor dining for the fall and winter months, including the usage of tents, fire pits, and heating elements. Also, Manager Neukirch provided an update on steps the City has taken to assist restaurants in providing efficient curbside pick-up, including adding additional 15-minute parking spots throughout the Central Business District.
Business Development Manager Carolyn Hersch provided an update on the City's efforts to market Highland Park restaurants, including ads in Sheridan Road Magazine, social media posts, the Central Avenue digital kiosks, and the Business Development E-newsletter. Restaurants were encouraged to send their events to her at email@example.com, or to Business Development Assistant Melissa Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org to share on social media, the City's website, and other modes of communication. Manager Hersch suggested that restaurants like the City's Facebook pages, as well as Like and Share posts to boost their reach. She also encouraged them to sign up for the City's Newsletters.
Following updates from City officials, Jim Lederer and participants discussed industry best practices, lessons learned during the past several months of the pandemic, coordinating events, and marketing opportunities for restaurant owners. Several great ideas were discussed, some of which would also benefit retailers. The September 23, 2020 Business Newsletter will include a list of ideas from the meeting.
In conclusion, the City encouraged restaurants to work together and coordinate food and beverage events to keep Highland Park at the top of mind as a destination for dining. Restaurants were also encouraged to form a Highland Park Restaurant Association, which was well-received. The City will facilitate the first Restaurant Association meeting within the next two weeks.