Food tour company struggles to regain ground as restaurants recover
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Many restaurants took a hit during the pandemic, and some businesses reliant on the food industry are feeling the effects as they struggle to recover.
Megan Bucholz is the founder and chief tasting officer of Local Table Tours, a food tour company offering guided walking tours of restaurants in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado.
“We go to a restaurant, maybe paired with bartender’s choice tasting, and do that again in another place and another place, and we end with dessert,” Bucholz said.
Bucholz, who is an avid home cook, started her business in 2010. Over the course of a decade, she said Local Table Tours was steadily growing, building relationships with more than 90 establishments.
“I had different types of tours, private events, birthday parties, corporate gatherings, but it gave me no indication that that was going to go backwards after steadily growing for a decade,” Bucholz said.
But in March 2020, everything in Colorado closed, she said, and she refunded customers who had already paid for tours.
“I did have an incredibly slow year that was not profitable at all, so that put me back until the spring of 2021.”
When she decided to reopen her business for tours this year, Bucholz said it was difficult to hit the ground running. Many local restaurants were struggling to get back on their feet after losing profits and staff during the pandemic.
“Forty-five of my featured establishments had closed permanently,” Bucholz said. “So many others had changed their hours, they were short staffed.”
Bucholz said she was forced to pivot from properly planning her itineraries to allowing for flexibility in case a restaurant fell through.
“It was very much like, fly by the seat of your pants to give people the best experience they could have considering the circumstances that everything was so messy,” Bucholz said.
Bucholz said while tours have picked up, he’s still working to rebuild her business back to the profitability it was seeing in 2019.
“Currently, my numbers are nowhere near what they were in 2019, but I anticipate being about three-quarters of the way there, assuming nothing shuts down again,” Bucholz said. “I’ve just been taking it week by week, figuring out who can be featured and just trying to make it work without being a burden.”
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