Local restaurant owners cited by tourism group

CHAMPAIGN — A Rantoul couple has been recognized by Visit Champaign County as among the Tourism Impact winners.

Lauded were Cameshia and Curtis McGhee, owners of C&C Kitchen in Rantoul.

The McGhees started their restaurant in 2014 with $200. It is now a destination serving southern-inspired American cuisine.

They use fresh ingredients and bake everything from scratch, including sweet potato waffles with praline butter and red velvet waffles with cream cheese butter.

VCC President Jayne DeLuce said they’ve drawn visitors to Rantoul from Chicago, St. Louis and Wisconsin.

Esquire cited
When tourists come through town, they often stop at the Esquire in Champaign.

When they do, Jessica Basalay often helps them figure what to do in Champaign.

“They’re always wondering where to go next, and what’s in town, and where’s good food, and I always send them to local places and recommend them local beers,” Basalay said.

As a bartender there for 11 years, she is on the front lines of the tourism industry and was recognized by Visit Champaign County on Wednesday as one of five Tourism Impact award winners.

“We feel Jessica would be a great candidate for the award, due to her unique ability to make people visiting from out of town to feel like they are home when they come to the Esquire,” said DeLuce, reading from the nomination by her bosses, Jackie Simpson and Paul Higgins. “She recognizes repeat visitors, makes recommendations about things to do in town and has a general warmth of spirit that makes people feel comfortable from all walks of life.”

The other winners include:

— Noel C. Dicks, a volunteer for Arthur Area Tourism. Dicks created the first Arthur business directory, ran Dicks Pharmacy for 35 years and kept the pharmacy’s old fashioned soda fountain. He’s also written a book about Arthur and is considered “the source” for local history.

— Rod Lovett, athletic director for Parkland College. While AD, Parkland has won four national championships. Lovett used to serve on the Champaign County Sports Commission and represents Champaign County nationally on the National Junior College Athletic Association board.

— Dawn Van Buskirk, who works for Berkshire Hathaway Snyder Real Estate and previously with Horve Hospitality Management, the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Willard Airport. “Dawn has been devoted to selling and promoting Champaign County for many years,” DeLuce said.

The winners were recognized Wednesday at Memorial Stadium at the fifth annual Toast to Tourism event, which coincides with National Travel & Tourism Week.
Illinois Tourism Director Cory Jobe also spoke at the event, which more than 200 people attended.

bzigerman@news-gazette.com





 

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