If you’re looking for your next date night activity, a chance to taste new foods and drinks or an opportunity to learn more about local businesses, the Foodie Walk may be the event for you.
The Foodie Walk is a free experience hosted by the Downtown Business Association and 13 Old Town businesses on the third Friday of every month from 5-8:00 p.m. Participants lead themselves on a self-guided tour of food- and drink-based businesses in Old Town Fort Collins with the assistance of a map and punch card handed out at any of the 13 locations.
George Grossman, co-owner of Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, and Sean Godbey, co-owner of Old Town Spice Shop, created the concept of the Foodie Walk based on the First Friday Art Walk, which takes place in many cities across the country. The experience was crafted around the customers of many food-based, Old Town businesses.
“We have a common customer, and our common customers all appreciate the same things,” Godbey said. “So, specifically, they like to be educated on what they’re consuming; they like to try new things and they generally like to do things at home. So, culinary wise they’re going to make their own dishes, they’re going to brew their own cup of tea at home.”
Every business which participates in the Foodie Walk must have some sort of educational element — such as a demonstration, explanation or recipe — and a sensory element, which is usually a free sample of products. To Toby Gadd, the co-owner of Nuance Chocolate, the education element of the event is crucial.
“The Foodie Walk was a neat way for us to educate people and get them a chance to understand about cultivars, about fermentations methods, about varietals of cacao and how it’s actually made,” Gadd said. There’s so much more going on about chocolate than we all understood, so it’s a way for us to convey that and engage people and teach people about chocolate.”
In terms of sensory elements, Old Town Spice Shop samples their products by fostering business collaboration on Foodie Walk nights. “One of the things that we like to do his highlight other businesses that we work with,” Godbey said. “So, whether we wholesale to them or we have common themes. I love to be able to offer a spot and a place for people to come and have a space in Old Town for the night that don’t have a physical location in Old Town.”
On top of the free third Friday event, the Foodie Walk also offers a prize drawing of over $100 in gift cards and products every month, according to Godbey. Anyone who attends the Foodie Walk can have their guide card stamped or signed by all the businesses to enter into the drawing.
Despite the prize opportunity for visiting all the businesses, Gadd emphasized that there is no need to rush through the walk. “You know a lot of people think that they have to do all the stops in one night,” Gadd said. “So, my first suggestion would be slow down, take your time and enjoy the tour at the pace they feel comfortable doing. There’s a little reward at the end, and a lot of people feel really compelled to do all of the stops in one night. They don’t realize that to get that chance for the drawing they can get that card stamped literally all year.”
Gadd also commented on the name of the Foodie Walk and the connotations it may have for some people. “Sometimes I think the Foodie Walk has a snooty sounding name. It’s not snooty, right? It’s anybody who enjoys food which is pretty much everybody.”
Dean Hines, the co-owner of The Welsh Rabbit cheese shop and bistro, also explained why people shouldn’t be put off by the term “foodie.”
“The Foodie Walk is just a way to connect people to the small businesses in Old Town that have that value in others for food,” Hines said. “I mean other foodies, they’re passionate about the local food movement. It is a high experience, but it’s an experience. It’s not out of the reach of the everyday person.”
The businesses in the Foodie Walk stay relatively consistent from month to month, but they all offer different, seasonal items each month. This means participants can enjoy the event over and over without getting bored. “I think the Foodie Walk is a perfect place to experience new things, learn about new businesses and try things that you’ve never tried before,” Godbey said. “Even anytime that I do the Foodie Walk and go to all my neighbor businesses, I learn new things, I find out about new products, and that’s the essence of it. You can do it every month and you’re going to find out about new things.”