DECATUR—The first eatery in Decatur to earn the designation, Paco's Sol Bistro has received Enjoy Illinois' Delicious Destination award.

The award, administered by the Illinois Office of Tourism, was established in September and recognizes local restaurants throughout the state that provide exemplary service to community members and tourists.

During the award announcement Thursday, Mayor Mike McElroy said the award reflects pride upon the Decatur area and speaks toward downtown business growth.

“What we have is quality in this downtown area,” McElroy said. “It is safe in this downtown area, and we have people that are in the service industry that want to serve you.”

Paco's, which opened in March 2010 and serves classic American cuisine fused with Southwest and Asian flavors, will receive a certificate from the state and a window cling to display the designation.

Restaurant owner Paco Greenwell attributed the award to the dedication and hard work of his staff.

“I think this award is truly a reflection of their level of commitment to put out the best product and best service that they can,” he said.

About 28 percent of leisure travelers reported that culinary experiences served a key role in their travel vacation in Illinois, according to a 2013 study by D.K. Shifflet and Associates, a travel research and consulting company. The culinary industry accounts for about 9 percent of the state's employment, north of 515,000 jobs.

“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 State Travel director Jen Hoelzle said. “The Enjoy Illinois Delicious Destination award honors those restaurants that are authentically Illinois, making a trip to the state unforgettable.”

The developing commerce downtown represents a revitalization of Decatur as a “warm and welcoming” destination, said Terri Hammel, executive director of the Decatur Area Convention and Vistors Bureau.

To be considered for the award, restaurants must receive a nomination from a convention and visitors bureau, community member or Enjoy Illinois social media fan.

“Paco's receiving the award is a feather in Decatur's cap, and restaurants such as these enhance Decatur and make it a better place to be,” said Carol Barnes, president of the covention and visitors bureau's board of directors.

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