Part of the adventure of traveling is sampling local eats, and food tours are popping up in destinations around the world as a way to bring visitors closer to the cuisine that makes up the fabric of each locale.
St. Thomian Alexander Querrard and business partner Ayla Shaw, a registered dietician, have paired up to bring this experience to St. John with the founding of Love City Food Tours, whose first official Cruz Bay food tour happens today.
Querrard and Shaw work together at Schneider Hospital, where the idea was born in November. The duo set up agreements with St. John restaurants and ran practice tours in preparation for today’s launch.
“We spent a lot of time on St. John, going from place to place and pitching our idea to the restaurants to find several that were interested in being a part of the tour,” said Querrard.
The tour that’s currently being offered begins at the Cruz Bay ferry dock. Participants are led down Cruz Bay Beach to the first stop at Lime Inn, followed by a stop at Woody’s Seafood Saloon. The tour then goes to the Tap Room in Mongoose Junction before a final stop at St. John Scoops for dessert.
The restaurant stops are woven together with background information on the history of Cruz Bay. Shaw and Querrard are considering adding a fifth stop to the tour, and they’re hoping to add some local food restaurants as well.
“As we grow we can add and subtract, mix and match,” said Querrard. “We do want to focus on adding a more local option. We’re constantly looking to expand and modify our restaurant offerings based on who wants to partner with us.”
Shaw will lead most of the tours as Querrard’s hospital job keeps him busy, but he said he will likely lead tours on the weekends. The two opted to conduct food tours on St. John rather than their home island because there are already multiple food tour businesses in operation on St. Thomas, and the Love City Food Tours owners were familiar with St. John after frequently visiting the island.
“Ayla and I were always on St. John, and I think the St. John culinary scene is a little more rich and diverse than St. Thomas,” said Querrard. “St. John really hits the proper demographic for what we’re aiming to accomplish. We hope tourists and also locals will enjoy the tours.”
Love City Food Tours can accommodate participants with various dietary restrictions, including those with diabetes, vegetarians and vegans, and those with health conditions that necessitate gluten free or dairy free options.
“We have menu items that are easy to prepare but very delicious, and we incorporate some of the locally sourced foods like fresh codfish or produce grown at local farms,” said Querrard.
Tour groups max out at 12 people, and Love City Food Tours also offers private events for those celebrating special occasions like a bachelor or bachelorette party, wedding or birthday, and they offer tours for corporate team-building as well.
“The options are limitless with who we can cater to,” said Querrard. “We just want everyone to know that this isn’t only for tourists. It’s for anyone and everyone. We want to bring something new to the table.”