Reflections on Taste Carolina’s 5 Year Anniversary

It’s been five years since Joe and I launched our food tour business. I just looked through my 2009 Facebook posts, and I saw my status from March 17th of that year: “Lesley is launching a business…. NOW…” A group of five people signed up for our Durham tour that same weekend, and we were in business. A few weeks later I reported on Facebook that there were six tours booked in one week, and a few weeks after that I mentioned a record 49 people in a week. As reported that summer in a News & Observer article, I lost ten pounds from walking so much. Sure, I was eating a lot, but in small portions throughout the day. Yes, I gained it back when I started hiring tour guides!

We continually adapt to the changing landscape of dining out and the increasing popularity of foodie experiences. Running this business has gone from somewhat simple to really quite complicated, but that’s one reason why I love it. I’m proud to have brought over 15,000 people downtown, to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at downtown restaurants, and to have employed a dozen people.

What is my favorite part of owning this business? It’s the process of facilitating an experience during which couples, families, companies, and groups of friends can have fun together, enjoy lots of yummy food, and explore our historic downtowns with a friendly guide. I get to do this for a living, and I am indeed very lucky. I love showing off my favorite restaurants and their talented chefs over and over again. And I dig the fact that some of the coolest people around – restaurants folks – are really nice to me and my customers.

Thank you for being part of our five years. Thank you tour guides, past and present, for being gracious hosts and good friends. Thank you restaurant partners for treating our customers like VIPs… every week for five years. And thank you, Joe, for being a supportive business partner and friend.

My husband and my parents believed in this business from the start, and for that I am most grateful.



Joe and I during a Chapel Hill Magazine photoshoot. We’re at LocoPops with my dog, Marley, who is enjoying a pupsicle.

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