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The Illinois Restaurant Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the restaurant and hospitality industry in Illinois, is celebrating its 100th year.

"We are thrilled to usher in the centennial year and have brought together a stellar committee of industry leaders to help us pay homage to Illinois' restaurant history as a whole and the role the IRA has played since its inception" in 1914, Sam Toia, IRA president and CEO, said in a news release. "We are enthusiastic about contributing to the industry's continued growth and look forward to the next 100 years of service!"

The IRA will recognize the milestone throughout 2014 in a variety of forums — including a curated display of artifacts in conjunction with the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef's Hall of Fame and an online photo and menu collection. Restaurateurs throughout the state are encouraged to submit memorabilia, artifacts, photos and more by contacting IRACentennial@gmail.com.

In addition, the IRA will feature historic restaurant profiles and contests all year via its Facebook and Twitter channels and, through the presentation of the Restaurant Industry Living Legend Awards, will recognize members whose lifework has "enriched the state's robust restaurant community." Recipients will be honored at the Association's Annual Meeting and Luncheon held on Feb. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

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