Ann Arbor has increasingly become known as a foodie haven, and this November a food tour business called By the Sidewalk will begin offering newbies and townies a new way to experience the city's culinary destinations.
By the Sidewalk owner Aniruddh Gala moved to Ann Arbor from Raleigh, N.C., in July, but he had been making culinary excursions to the city with his girlfriend for many months before that. Gala had been working as a supply chain engineer but was looking for an opportunity to start a business of his own when he took his first food tour in Montreal.
"It struck me instantaneously that it was a good way to spend some time, get to know the area better, and eat a lot of good food," Gala says.
He chose to run his tours in Ann Arbor because the city had all the right elements to make a walking food tour a success.
"The food scene is thriving, there's a bustling downtown, and wonderful, energetic foot traffic. Conditions are ideal," Gala says.
The first few tours will take place at lunchtime on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and will focus on Kerrytown and downtown Ann Arbor. "Classic Ann Arbor" tours cost $47, all-inclusive, and last about two-and-a-half to three hours. Private and customized tours can be arranged as well. Once he grows his customer base, Gala says he'd like to expand to other areas and offer tours with other themes, as well as expanding tours to Tuesday through Thursday.
He says his tours will be appealing to first-time visitors as well as people who have spent their whole lives in the Ann Arbor area. Gala emphasizes that the tours are centered around food but are designed to give "a taste of everything Ann Arbor has to offer."
"We're going to include the history, architecture, culture, and trivia behind the Tree Town," Gala says. He plans to include both eateries and non-food-related Ann Arbor landmarks on the tour. Notable local food businesses including Zingerman's Deli, Argus Farm Stop, and Isalita are listed as "food partners" on By the Sidewalk's website, but in order to maintain the "element of surprise" Gala won't reveal tour destinations in advance. He says he hopes to provide "moments of unexpected discovery, even for local people."
Tours will be capped at 16 people so that everyone gets a bit of personal attention, and attendees should plan on walking one to two miles over the course of the tour. Most stops include both vegetarian and omnivore options. Food allergies and dietary restrictions can be accommodated if noted during registration, Gala says.
For more information or to sign up for a tour, visit By the Sidewalk's website or call (734) 548-9532.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Aniruddh Gala.