In 2008, Jeff Swedarsky launched a popular culinary-based tour company in Alexandria, Virginia. Since then his company, Food Tour Corporation, has expanded into D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, and Swedarsky's hometown of Indianapolis.
In 2010, the company tastefully guided approximately 10,000 customers on its various tours.
Next up, says Swedarsky, is Cleveland.
"I believe the way people can learn the most about a culture is through its food," the owner explains.
Heading up the Cleveland outpost will be Sarah Parker, Food Tour's business development manager. The professional tour guide grew up in Sandusky and says that Cleveland makes a natural destination into which to expand.
"One of the great things about Cleveland is that there are still a lot of locally run, mom-and-pop places that many other cities no longer have," explains Parker, who is already in town mapping out upcoming tours.
First up, she says, is the West Side Market, which will blend historical info, conversations with vendors, and numerous food samples.
"We try and focus on understanding a neighborhood through its food, venues, history and atmosphere," she adds. "These are tours that both locals and tourists will learn from."
Future tours likely will include Little Italy, Tremont, Slavic Village and E. Fourth Street. Specific-interest tours like Polish foods and brewery tours are also in the works.
Tours are generally of the walking-and-noshing variety, with groups in the 10- to 15-person range. Prices are approximately $50 per person.
Parker says that she is on the hunt for local guides. "Anyone who loves Cleveland, loves food, and loves people" is welcome to apply for one of the part-time posts.
Look for the first tours to roll out before June.