Chamber lunch feeds fifty

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Terry Dove

The Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce met Tuesday, May 11, for lunch at Vitale's new location in downtown Aledo. There was a tremendous chamber presence with more than 50 members and guests in attendance.

One special guest introduced by Aledo City Administrator Janice Green was the city's interim Police Chief Terry Dove.

Dove lives about four miles from Aledo and is a retired police chief from the city of Rock Island 2001 - 2005. "He'll be here until the city decides to hire a permanent chief," said Green.

Chamber business included approving a motion to have two chamber representatives (Lance Meyer and John Hoscheidt) address the Aledo City Council in a positive manner about what a great place Aledo is and how the city needs to move forward in a positive fashion.

The guest speakers were Colleen Nation and John Kesinger, talking about the topic "Dreams."

Colleen Nation is in the process of realizing one of her dreams. She and her husband are owners of Vitale's Pizza in downtown Aledo. On Tuesday the restaurant served its first banquet customers at the Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce meeting. She and her husband John bought Vitale's four years ago. "We wanted to own our own place," she said.  She said it didn't work out for them to buy the old location, so "we decided to buy another one."

"We were hoping to open this week," said Colleen.

The restaurant will be serving take out starting tomorrow evening and in a week will open up with a salad bar and pizza buffet. The restaurant can be contacted at (309) 582-5550.

John Kesinger, owner of The Livermore restaurant, addressed the chamber about his newest dream -- "Pope Creek Chocolate Factory."

He hopes to make Aledo a destination for outsiders to come and enjoy, with the Chocolate Factory serving up every kind of candy known to man. Adjacent to the chocolate factory will be a children’s store.

Kesinger's vision is to put Pope Creek Chocolate Factory at the current Knox Heating and Cooling building on Main Street, just around the corner from his restaurant The Livermore. "It's going to be the biggest candy store in the Midwest," he said. He is hoping to draw 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a year.

He has visited with a lot of people about the project. One such person questioned whether Aledo could support any more restaurants.

"He's right," said Kesinger.

Kesinger then went on to talk some sober possibilities -- I don't think Aledo wants to have 18 percent unemployment, a bunch of vacant buildings or send its best and brightest young people away from the area, he said.

"There's not enough customers in Aledo,” he said. So Aledo needs to figure out how to draw people here. “Our biggest fear is complacency and lack of vision."

More than 50 Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce members had lunch at Vitale's in downtown Aledo, testing out their banquet facilities.