Madison business pivots, pedals forward with revamped food tours

MADISON, Wis.– It’s been a tough year not only for local restaurants, but for businesses that rely on those restaurants to run their operations, like food tour companies.

Since 2012, Madison Eats Food Tours has worked with locally-owned restaurants, chefs, and businesses to showcase the city’s eclectic food scene. But as restaurants shut down last spring, so did the touring company.

“After a year of running at full speed, I was stuck,” remembered Otehlia Cassidy, owner of Madison Eats. “I had to step back and think, ‘What’s next?'”

Like many small business owners, Cassidy made a pandemic pivot: developing take-home ‘Madison trEats’ boxes as a way to safely share food with families and support the struggling restaurant industry. It helped many local businesses get by, but it wasn’t the same. Even as many restaurants were able to reopen, Cassidy wasn’t able to relaunch her business.

“You can’t just say, ‘Okay, now we’re open and all our tours are running,'” she explained. “The restaurants aren’t staffed. That’s not possible.”

However, soon, it will be possible. Madison Eats is relaunching its food tours Sunday, April 25… on bikes!

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The Bike n’ Bites food tour will take riders on a six-mile loop around Madison’s east side, starting and ending at the recently-renovated Garver Feed Mill. Small groups of between 6 and 8 riders will safely stop for samples at five local businesses, while learning the history behind the food and the people who make it.

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Wisconsin-produced ice cream, beer, and pizza are all on the menu, as well as unique items like ayurvedic Indian food.

Cassidy is optimistic Madison Eats will be able to safely offer more in-person tours by summer.

So far, none of the restaurants her company regularly featured pre-pandemic closed permanently during it: a testament to not only how good their food is, but how successful businesses can be when working together.

Click here for more information on the Bike n’ Bites Food Tour or visit Madison Eats Food Tours’ website here.