When Bethia Woolf and her husband started shuttling Columbus residents around the city to explore ethnic eats and taco trucks in July 2010, they weren’t quite sure what they were getting in to.
“It was a new concept for Columbus so we really had no idea how it would go,” Woolf says.
And how it has gone is really, really well.
Over the past five years, Columbus Food Adventures has expanded from three tours to 11, and just Woolf and her husband to 10 foodie guides.
Running five to 15 tours a week depending on the season, Columbus Food Adventures introduces diners to locations and cuisines across the city.
There’s neighborhood-centric tours in Short North, Grandview and German Village. Participants can indulge their sweet tooth on the All Desserts adventure, and on the opposite though not mutually exclusive end of the spectrum, carnivores will enjoy the Meat Lover’s outing. Guests will be left buzzing after the Coffee adventure. Foodies can learn from knower of all things Columbus breakfast, Nick Dekker on Breakfast and Brunch tours. And finally, Alt Eats, Taco Truck and Food Truck tours cater to the more adventurous eater.
Each of Columbus Food Adventure’s tours hits five to six stops where tour-goers taste eats from each while learning more about the business and its cuisine. Walking tours also often include some tidbits on the history and architecture of the neighborhood, and ethic food tours provide an opportunity to learn about different cultures.
“There’s definitely sort of an educational undertone, but we like to keep the tours very relaxed and fun,” Woolf says.
The main goal is for people to learn, try something new and enjoy some delicious eats.
Along with their business, Columbus Food Adventures has watched the city’s restaurant scene grow, marked by opening after opening. It’s not necessarily the city’s overall interest in food that’s meant growth, “I feel like the appreciation for local has been there the whole time,” Woolf says. It’s eaters’ palates.
“I think that there’s a bit more appreciation for the diversity in Columbus,” Woolf explains.
More and more people are becoming interested in exploring lesser-known cuisines through tours like the Alt Eats that’s featured food from over 40 ethnic eateries. Food trucks were also just starting to become a thing when Columbus Food Adventures launched. Now, people see eating at food trucks or taco trucks as commonplace.
More than trends about food, Woolf has also noticed a trend about giving that’s brought more guests their way.
“I think that people now, there’s definitely a trend in giving experiences,” Woolf says.
Sales of tour gift certificates have risen dramatically over the last few years.
2016 is shaping up to be another successful year for Columbus Food Adventures. They’re working on making the guest experience even better – touting a new van early in the year, as well as an updated ticketing system. An expanded customer base is already in the works, too. The organizers are exploring more corporate tours and events like progressive dinners and food scavenger hunts.
And, while the Grandview Avenue, Breakfast and Brunch tours are newer to the agenda, “We’re always coming up with plans for new tours,” Woolf says.
For more information, visit columbusfoodadventures.com.