CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A couple of months ago, Gov. Roy Cooper lifted many COVID-19 restrictions that had been impacting restaurants for more than a year.
They included curfews, social distancing, capacity requirements and mask mandates.
As restaurants transition to working without restrictions, a Charlotte food tour business is keeping its operations on pause.
FEAST Food Tours & Culinary Events owner Kristi Martin managed her business mostly from home in 2019 following a bone marrow transplant.
In 2020, when the leukemia survivor was ready to return back to work in person, the pandemic happened.
She decided to stop the in-person tours in March of 2020 and eventually had to lay off her staff.
Martin continued doing virtual tours until December.
“Being shut down for so long, it became very clear that we were going to start all over again,” Martin said.
Since then, she has taken part-time jobs connected to the food industry. Martin said she is not ready to restart her in-person tours yet even though restaurants don’t have COVID-19 restrictions anymore.
“Now there are some labor shortages and food supply situations. Some of the restaurant owners and chefs are still trying to keep their feet under them,” Martin said. “I didn’t want to add one more thing, one more challenge, just yet.”
She said owners, chefs and key restaurant employees played an important role during her interactive tours.
“We had an opportunity to understand their why and their passion, maybe learn something, being enlightened in some way,” Martin said.
She added she wants to give restaurants time and herself time to find the best way to tell their stories.
“I’ve always enjoyed sharing the stories and sharing the passions of others. I hope I can find a way to continue to do that and at the same time provide a great experience,” Martin said.
Martin said she will likely resume the tours at the beginning of 2022.