Local food and drink touring company shifts business model due to COVID-19

Posted at 2:26 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 21:07:50-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It is safe to say the last several months of the tourist season in Hampton Roads and beyond have been impacted by the coronavirus.

"When they say this is unprecedented, it really is. We are trying to re-brand and adapt," said Lisa Hamaker, co-founder of Taste Virginia Tours.

Many tourists not only flock to the state for the beaches, but also for the food and drink.

"We have it all here: We have the history, the agriculture, the seafood wineries, breweries, distilleries - it's a celebration, and we call it 'the birthplace of American cuisine,'" Hamaker explained.

Hamaker and her husband, Rex, own Taste of Virginia Tours, which was founded seven years ago.

"We provide entertainment. Fun, tasty fun," said Lisa.

Fun that has come to an unfortunate halt for the tour company.

"We are 100% shut down," said Rex Hamaker.

The Hamakers are used to conducting two to three tours a week, but they have not done a single tour so far this year.

"We are bringing in zero for revenue," said Rex.

The tour company is facing a double whammy thanks to the coronavirus. The restaurants, breweries and wineries where they stop are partially closed for business. For them, the means by which they get there in a 12-passenger coach is firmly parked.

"With a 12-passenger coach, it is hard to sit six feet apart, no matter how much we clean and sanitize," said Rex.

Related: Local travel agency busy assisting clients modify travel plans due to coronavirus

But instead of letting their business lose flavor, they are whipping up a new idea - walking tours to fill the needs of foodies looking to entice their taste buds.

"We are kind of making it up as we go along, so many things are changing. It's a bit of a moving target," said Lisa.

Making the most of what is on their plate as they navigate through the pandemic.

"This is our passion. We love promoting the region as one of the top food sheds the entire country, and it is what started us to have the business itself," said Lisa.

For more information about Taste of Virginia Tours, visit their website here.

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