We sat down with Angela Shen of Savor Seattle Food Tours in Seattle, WA to learn all about her business. Angela is a “food evangelist” who grew up working in her family’s restaurants and countless others. Her commitment to excellence has earned Savor Seattle Tours a 5-star rating on Yelp! Read on to hear Angela’s story.
Why did you decide to start your business? Tell us your backstory!
I have always had an incredible fascination with the power of food. My family owned restaurants all throughout my childhood, so I knew how to ring up a take-out order and chop vegetables before I knew how to ride a bike. Food is so powerful. It transcends all boundaries, be it geographical or native tongue. Everyone speaks food and I just love that it can bring perfect strangers together. And with my family’s roots in food, I know how passionate the people in the kitchen are! It is so meaningful to me to bring their stories to life, giving their “raison d’être” center stage.
I started Savor Seattle in March 2007, so we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year! We started with just one tour, the food and cultural tour of Pike Place Market and it still remains our most popular, and flagship offering. Each year following, we’ve launched a new tour each season and today offer seven different food and cultural walking tours, plus culinary getaways including 3-day/2-night gourmet kayaking expeditions in the San Juan Islands, WA and 9-day culinary tours to Italy!
Why do you love doing business here in Seattle?
Seattle is so cosmopolitan and multi-faceted. From breath-taking views of nature as our backdrop (think snow-capped mountain ranges and evergreen trees), with an unwavering commitment to FLOSS (fresh, local, organic, seasonal, and sustainable) food, wine, and beer, I think visitors are just floored by the unexpected diversity of this place. We are a humble city. We at Savor Seattle think of ourselves as city ambassadors, so we aren’t shy about shouting our city’s virtues from every hilltop!
What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?
Time is money! And with travelers who are actively trying to pack in as much as they can during their short vacations, they appreciate that our tours are short in duration, typically 2 hours long. We joke that our food and drink tasting tours are a carefully choreographed food ballet. Each of the 45 different restaurants and food artisans we work with knows in advance exactly what time we are arriving at their location, headcount, and any dietary restrictions that need substitutions. This means that when our guests arrive, our tastings are served within 1-2 minutes of sitting down. This means that we save a lot of time not having to wait in long lines or twiddling our thumbs waiting for food to be made. You have places to go and things to do! By working with the operations of each restaurant so closely, we are able to keep our tours to two hours typically, all while still visiting 5-7 different locations and not feeling rushed.
What’s your advice for other business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?
I liken starting a small business to shopping for clothing. You won’t ever know if it’ll fit until you try it on. Window shopping is what 99% of the world does. Instead, be the person who rocks that dress everyone else has been staring longingly at! Don’t wait for the right moment to come your way. Just do it!
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