RIVER GROVE – Governor Pat Quinn today honored the iconic Chicago area hot dog stand Gene & Jude’s with the first-ever “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” award. The new culinary designation celebrates local food establishments that are beloved stops for visitors and locals alike. The award also highlights the important role Illinois restaurants play in Illinois’ economic comeback.
“This award recognizes restaurants that are staples in the communities they serve and are unique to Illinois, such as Gene & Jude’s,” Governor Quinn said. “The state’s thriving restaurant industry plays a major role in our economic comeback by attracting visitors and creating jobs. I congratulate Gene & Jude’s on their history in Illinois and for being named our first official ‘Delicious Destination.’”
The Governor and tourism officials today also opened the nominating process for more unique restaurants around the state to garner the title as a “Delicious Destination.” In the coming months, Illinois tourism officials will travel around the state to present additional “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” awards. To be considered, restaurants must be nominated by a local Convention & Visitors Bureau, community member or an “Enjoy Illinois” social media fan.
Nominated restaurants must be unique to Illinois and an established part of its community and award winners will be chosen by the Illinois Office of Tourism. For more information about the state’s culinary offerings and “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” awards, visit www.enjoyillinois.com.
“From family-owned restaurants with long and storied histories to the hottest new cuisines in the world, Illinois has emerged as a premier culinary destination for both domestic and international visitors,” Illinois Office of Tourism Director Jen Hoelzle said. “Gene & Jude’s nearly 80 years of delicious history in Illinois and wonderful staff made it a great selection for the first ‘Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination’ award.”
The culinary industry accounts for 515,600 jobs in Illinois, or about 9 percent of the state’s employment. In addition, many travelers come to Illinois or extend their stay because of the state’s flourishing restaurant and culinary scene. According to a 2013 D.K. Shifflet & Associates Study, 28 percent of leisure travelers to Illinois report a “culinary experience” as a key part of their vacation. The study also detailed Illinois’ tourism workforce grew to 301,100 in 2013, adding 2,400 new jobs to the state. The numbers highlight the tourism industry’s vital contributions to Illinois’ economic growth, job creation and tax revenue.
Today’s announcement follows last week’s news that the Illinois unemployment rate hit a six-year low in August when it fell to 6.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since August 2008 and a continuation of an uninterrupted drop in the state jobless rate that began in late 2013. The number of people employed in Illinois remains above six million, continuing a 2014 trend that has seen more people working in this state than at any time since early 2009.
Gene & Jude’s Red Hot Stand was founded in 1946 on Polk and Western Avenues in Chicago, serving classic hot dogs and fries to loyal customers. The restaurant expanded and moved to its current location in 1950. Gene & Jude’s continues to amaze diners with mouthwatering dishes served with the highest standards of quality. The beloved stand has received recognition as serving the best hot dog and fries in the country by celebrity chefs, food critics and others.