Sisters Michelle Lien and Amanda Olson had taken guided food tours on their international journeys. Closer to home, Nick White came away impressed after participating in the Hudson Food Walk.
Roughly a year ago, the three formed Three Foodies LLC in Eau Claire. The company is now offering the Downtown Eau Claire Food and History Tour. Two test runs have been completed, and the first public date is a sellout with 12 guests.
“I just thought, if Hudson can do this,” White said, “there must be a market for it in Eau Claire.”
It’s a guided walking tour of 1.2 miles that lasts roughly three hours. Participants will start at The Local Store before moving on to The Lakely, Northbound Supply Co., The Informalist, The Rev (a new wine bar at 204 S. Barstow St.), Houligans and Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor.
The ticket price includes food and often beverages at each stop, as well as historical information about the locations visited (The Local Store building was once a confectionery, and The Oxbow Hotel location originally opened as the Edwards Hotel) and other sites along the walk.
White, born and raised in Eau Claire, and the sisters, who hail from Barron, will rotate serving as guides. The target audience, White said, is visitors to the area and residents who want to learn more about downtown Eau Claire.
The food offerings will vary. At times the fare will be made up of items that haven’t yet been available to regular customers.
“We asked restaurants to showcase what they want to showcase,” White said. “Sometimes the items will be something you wouldn’t typically order.”
As far as the historical perspective, the team worked with the Chippewa Valley Museum and other sources to fine-tune their knowledge about the city center.
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Three Foodies LLC earned the 2017 Idea Challenge grand prize of $5,000. Northwestern Bank sponsors the Eau Claire Area Economic Economic Development Corp. program, which accepts entrepreneurial entries year-round.
“One of the unique things about Eau Claire is our strong and growing entrepreneurial community,” Christina Wasson, EDC project and marketing manager said in a news release. “Every year the Idea Challenge partners and the Eau Claire Area EDC enjoy working with these individuals who have innovative ideas.”
The four other finalists in the competition’s latest installment were:
• College Admissions Planning Calendar by Lessa Scherrer: A tool that is part calendar and part college admissions guide to help make the college admissions process easier.
• GIF Skin by Adam Shilts: A self-powered, wireless and customizable digital sticker.
• Ketch by CeCe Ketcham: A modern luggage line for an active lifestyle that includes a multi-functional bag with 35 features.
• Kid’s Hand Buddy by Traci Lashley: A product that offers a fun and interactive way to hold hands.
Previous success stories that came out of the Idea Challenge (theideachallenge.com) include Chip Magnet Salsa, Earthbound Environmental, Gorilla Dumpster Bags and the Kinsel System.
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White said interest in the Downtown Eau Claire Food and History Tour has been strong, but the group already is looking to the future.
Three Foodies is in the process of forming a food and history tour in Chippewa Falls. It also envisions Eau Claire haunted and music tours in the future.
The timing for Chippewa Valley Tours probably couldn’t be better. The Pablo Center at the Confluence is scheduled to open this fall and will only add to the arts-related activities available downtown.
“Eau Claire culture-wise and food-wise has really taken off in the past few years,” White said.
Contact: 715-833-9215, firstname.lastname@example.org, @marlaires on Twitter
• A ribbon-cutting event for Chippewa Valley Tours (chippewavalleytours.com) will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Volume One Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St.