Two local newlyweds hosted the first official Gainesville Food Tour on Saturday, followed by another on Sunday, attracting a full crowd and introducing a new dining trend to Gainesville.
Another three-hour guided tour will be at 10:45 a.m. Sept. 27 in downtown Gainesville.
Ryan Earls and Caroline Chance Earls, the tour’s founders, will offer cultural and historical facts about the city while stopping tour-goers by five local food spots to sample some of their best dishes.
"(We look for) a good representation of Gainesville — somewhere with good food and a good history to it," Ryan said.
Food tours have become popular activities among tourists in recent years and — according to Ryan, a 33-year-old software operations manager and entrepreneur — it’s the fastest growing tour segment.
Ryan and 29-year-old Caroline, a licensed marriage and family therapist and director of the Partners in Adolescent Lifestyle Support program, decided to turn their passion for good food and meeting new people into a delicious experience that will introduce some of Gainesville’s hidden gems.
The couple cooked up the idea for the Gainesville Food Tour while attending food tours in places such as New York, Las Vegas and Italy.
"The best part about doing this is getting to meet new people, getting to showcase Gainesville in a positive light and having fun while doing it," Ryan said.
Eight restaurants are currently partnered with the food tour, including Vellos Historic Brickstreet Grill, The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops, Liquid Ginger and The Sweet Tea at the Sweetwater Branch Inn. Each tour will feature five of the restaurants.
Cornelia Holbrook, the owner of the Sweetwater Branch Inn, has lived in Gainesville most of her life and feels very rooted in the community.
"It’s a new concept, but hopefully it’ll catch on," Holbrook, whose restaurant was featured last Sunday, said.
She said a food tour across downtown is a great way to introduce oneself to the culinary arena in Gainesville.
"People do (food) tours in Europe all the time, why not have a tour in Gainesville?" Holbrook said.