Popularity of Libertyville’s First Friday keeps growing
Owner Tim Kelly creates salsa bites in his Libertyville store. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:10AM
Sergio Vazquez sipped a glass wine and enjoyed conversation with friends while a jazz band performed at the Parkview Gourmet in Libertyville last Friday.
Vazquez and his wife Kristin Burke of Grayslake are regular visitors to downtown Libertyville during First Friday, where participating MainStreet Libertyville merchants stay open late the first Friday of the month, hosting events such as wine and food tastings, live music and other entertainment and offer special discounts or in-store promotions.
“First Friday is a great event. We get to meet a lot of new people and get back together with some of our regular members,” said Vazquez, a native of Libertyville, who heads up a Lake County wine meeting group along with his wife.
During most First Fridays, Vazquez said he and his wife typically start the evening at the Parkview Gourmet on East Cook Avenue and then head their way down Milwaukee Avenue to other shops and restaurants such as How Impressive!, Wisma and Serendipity.
“Sometimes, we’ll stop in the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory because chocolate goes really well with wine,” said Burke.
First Friday was started by MainStreet Libertyville about three years ago, and its popularity appears to be growing.
Charley Colette, who owns Parkview Gourmet with his wife Pat, said his store always hosts a jazz band and does wine tastings on First Friday.
“It’s a very popular event, as you can see,” said Colette, as a large group of customers mingled. “It’s something different to do on a Friday night. People can walk around and enjoy the whole downtown.”
Someone’s in the Kitchen on Milwaukee Avenue offered free food samples of roasted tomato salsa and goat cheese dip during last week’s First Friday. Susan Edmondson, the new owner of the business who has worked there since last September, thinks First Friday is a great way to attract customers to downtown Libertyville.
“It brings people out on the streets and supporting local businesses,” she said. “MainStreet does a great job on these events, bringing people out for the good of the community.”
Mark and Pat Clauss of Libertyville visited downtown Libertyville for First Friday last week, stopping for dinner at the Picnic Basket before visiting the shops and doing a little wine tasting.
“We’re enjoying it,” said Mark Clauss. “We’ve never done this before. I grew up in Libertyville but I don’t usually get a chance to wander around and see all the shops.”
First Friday runs the first Friday of every month, from 6 to 9 p.m., between March and December.
Pam Hume, executive director of MainStreet Libertyville, said typically between 20 to 25 businesses participate each month in First Friday.
“It’s like a party atmosphere,” she said. “People go up and down the street seeing what’s going on in the stores. The stores are not always open every Friday night, but they are on First Friday.”