Mmm, chocolate! Few can resist the decadent confection, which is what The Morton Tourism Association & Friends were hoping for when they organized the first round of this year’s Indulgence Tours on March 23.
Fifteen Morton businesses offered chocolate and discounts to visitors. The tour began at 3 p.m., and continued until around 7 p.m., depending on the shop’s usual closing time.
Places like Schooner’s and Kemp 208, of course, keep later hours.
Others, such as Great American Popcorn, So Chic and Lulu’s, generally close earlier, but stayed open later for the event.
“The Indulgence Tour went very well, and all of the businesses were very pleased by the response,” MTA board member and volunteer Sharyl Nuske said. “The patrons, of course, loved all of the chocolates, but, also enjoyed finding out more about the businesses in town.”
Lulu’s owner, Carol Davis, served fresh chocolate dip by Gourmet Creations, a line of products she sells which, along with dessert dips, includes veggie, barbecue and pickle mixes.
Paddy O’Flaherty’s on Ashland Street served chocolate martinis.
So Chic Boutique prepared Easter Pretzels for the occasion, and Baked Blessings by Lisa provided mini chocolate chip cookie cups stuffed with icing.
“There are little hidden treasures here in town, and a lot of people say, ‘How did I not know this was here?” Nuske said. “We’ve done the same events over and over, and we wanted to do something different and engage more businesses to participate. This event clearly did that.”
The Village of Morton has worked in tandem with agencies like MTA, the Morton Chamber of Commerce and the Morton Economic Development Committee to draw new business to Morton, and attract a continually growing customer base.
In 2011, the village adopted a downtown redevelopment plan, Morton Chamber of Commerce Director Leigh Ann Brown said. That project included concept drawings created by design firm Houseal Lavigne, a company hired MEDC.
“That plan really drove redevelopment through the business district,” Brown said. “Those projects, the facade, the streetscapes, they created a walkable, vibrant downtown. It’s a great place for people to bike, walk, park, shop and dine.”
Indeed, the face of downtown Morton has changed significantly in the past decade. Buildings have been demolished and replaced with sleek, new construction on the 100 block of Jefferson Street, which includes retail and residential space.
Morton also now features three coffee shops, Leaves n’ Beans, Eli’s Coffee Shop and Breaking Grounds. Seasons Gastropub features sushi, craft beers and open air dining – in good weather.
“We’re involved in the Tazewell Art Loop and we have the Morton Fine Arts Association,” Brown said. “It’s a unique way to connect.”
A participant in the Tazewell Artloop, Jefferson Street Studio & Gallery paired chocolate and wine for the Indulgences Tour. Nuske said the March tour date was slated for the Artloop’s Fourth Fridays Event, but the coming tour dates will occur on Thursdays.
On June 6, the Indulgences Tour will feature berries, followed by pumpkins, of course, on Oct. 4. Peppermint will be showcased December 6.
“We all, as residents, want the shops and enjoy doing new events in town,” said Nuske.
Maps of all participants will be available for each tour date, including a list of offerings and discounts. For more information on Morton events, visit www.mortonchamber.org.
— Indulgences encouraged on Morton monthly tours to showcase businesses —