Centrally located in Illinois, about a two and half hour drive from Chicago, the city of Peoria has many exciting developments happening this year. Here are three to put on your radar.

1. The rustic-themed Bearded Owl Brewing opened in January with a variety of unfiltered beers ranging from stouts to India pale ales to sours, using locally grown ingredients wherever possible. While it doesn’t have designated event space, the brewery makes for a good post-meeting gathering spot for a round of beers and various homemade soft pretzels.

2. Restaurateur Tom Mathers has reopened Harvest Café in Peoria’s Junction City after closing its location in Delevan last year. The menu will include classic dishes and desserts, plus smoked meats and barbecue. A variety of private dining spaces are available, including the Vintage lounge and a 40-person conference center.

3. Opening late summer 2018 (at press time), the 323- room Four Points by Sheraton Peoria adds 12 meeting rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting space to the city’s inventory, including a 12,400-square-foot ballroom. The hotel is within walking distance of local museums, shops, restaurants and the Peoria RiverFront.  

An empowering approach to leadership makes Jill Torke, director of sales and marketing for The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, a superwoman in the city’s hotel scene.

 

Think creative F&B always has to be expensive? Think Again. We asked a hotel, a restaurant and a conference center to create three menus at three different price points - and they delivered. 

 

Lucky Strike served as the host venue for the third-annual Hospitality Fest, which gathered more than 750 meeting and event planning professionals for a four-hour evening event. With the goal of spotlighting options across Chicagoland for holiday parties, 74 table sponsors showcased ideas for F&B, event spaces and corporate activities. The teams and volunteers wore bowling shirts with presenting title sponsors’ names on the front to create a fun, laidback atmosphere.