Imagine an afternoon filled with demiglazes and braised shanks, pot stickers and forest mushrooms, red wine reductions and black bean quinoa salad. Are you hungry? Because Shirin Spangenberg, the owner of Park City Food Tours, wants to both feed and educate you.
The new business offers tours of the fine dining options and history of Park City's Historic Main Street. Whether popping into the Wasatch Brew Pub for a starter or checking out the latest creation at Zoom Restaurant, Spangenberg walks groups down the street, stopping in this or that business while providing a touch or perhaps an avalanche of local color. And at the heart of the business is a concept any Main Street merchant could stand behind: get more people to come back, spend money and support the local economy.
"I know a lot of people on the street, which made partnering with businesses easier. My whole goal is to bring recognition to the restaurants and businesses on Main Street. Hopefully, people will be so enthralled they will go back," Spangenberg said, "and they usually do."
But even locals are realizing the benefits of the tour, that there is more to Main Street than meets the eye. With more than 20 years in the community, Spangenberg delivers on stories, from the Old West days of Mormon pioneers to recent events such as the Tour of Utah and the most recent celebrity sightings at the Sundance Film Festival. If locals are inviting out-of-town guests to stay, it's the kind of tour they should take and commit to heart, embodying an air of a know-it-all guide to all things Park City.
"It's so funny," Spangenberg said. "The street is so dynamic. It changes all the time, and people take it for granted. I've always enjoyed coming on to Main Street, but starting this business has opened my eyes, to what there is, to how wonderful our business owners are, to spending a good time in our home town."
The tour even includes less obvious "food tour" merchants, incorporating galleries where owners highlight a new artist, understanding how to properly taste olive oil or a personal hand treatment at the Mountain Body Spa. In each location, a server or manager steps up to explain what the restaurant offers and what the group will try.
"This is an opportunity for people to sell their restaurant, their business," she said. "You have a captive audience. They are here for food, so this is a golden opportunity."
Spangenberg first had the idea to start her business in Park City after a trip to Orange County where she used an online coupon to take her first food tour. An admitted foodie, she saw the potential for expanding this idea in Utah.
"We have so much personality on this street," Spangenberg said. "I knew I could do this."
"The point is to have fun, get to know people, enjoy others' company," she added. "and that is on top of enjoying the food and getting to know the area better."
In December, she gave the first tour, and each experience is a little different, she said. Large groups treat the tour like a party, with perhaps a few more cocktails involved. Small groups become very intimate, people swapping stories and really getting to know each other. And there is something for everyone. The Park City Food Tours works with a variety of special dietary needs, whether kosher or gluten-free.
As the winter season continues, Spangenberg will continue to offer an apres ski schedule, targeting tourists who are just getting off the slopes. As spring and summer approach, she hopes to change up the schedule and offer deals to locals and the Wasatch Front for a dinner experience.
Park City Food Tours
Reservations can be made online.
Tour costs $64 per person.