LAMBERTVILLE, NJ — Liz Horvath, a downtown Lambertville resident, created a business with her sister in 2017 to celebrate the abundance of great local eats: Sister Cities Food & Shop Tours. Then, when business cooled off during the pandemic, Horvath collaborated with other food tour owners statewide to launch a coalition called the New Jersey Food Tour Trail.
She met her collaborators through Beyond The Plate Food Tours’ owner Alessia Aron, who runs tours in Jersey City, Red Bank, and Somerville. Rather than compete, they decided to support one another.
“We became instant friends and sounding boards for each other, and then she introduced me to everybody else, all the other women who are the food tour owners in New Jersey,” she said. “We’ve all had this network for a few years now.”
These women bonded over their love for the food scenes in their towns. For Horvath, that has always been about sharing a love of food with other people.
“I see a lot of people coming into town and not really having a plan,” she said. “I’ve even gone so far as to approach people and ask them if they need help.”
While New Hope and Lambertville have long had enjoyable ghost story and history walking tours, Horvath saw something to celebrate in the towns’ culinary scenes. Since starting Sister Cities, she’s built meaningful relationships with local spots and restaurants, offering all-inclusive private tours, group tours, and brewery tours to give guests a taste of the Delaware River towns.
“We focus on a lot of the smaller businesses, because they’re the ones that benefit the most,” she said. “If there are new businesses, we always like to introduce ourselves to them.”
She also feels that the tours let businesses have a more personal, specialized experience with their customers.
“They realize that it’s their opportunity to wow the customers and make them feel special for coming on this tour and coming to see them,” she explained.
Recently, Horvath was wowed herself when she began partnering with local bed & breakfast Aaron Burr House, the owner of which is a trained chef. In addition to a great meal, she got to hear all about the place’s history.
“She gave us the whole history, and as a Hamilton fan myself, it was so cool to hear that side of the story and a different perspective from what Lin-Manuel Miranda put out for the world,” she said. “I really appreciated that from them as our partners, because I could never in a million years learn that amount of information.”
This recent partnership excited Horvath, and makes her optimistic for new ventures yet to come as people leave their homes and get ready to travel again.
Fortunately for her, Sister Cities didn’t suffer too much in lockdown because running tours is not her full-time job — though she does hope that one day the “passion project” will be her primary focus.
“After living here, you realize how much there is to offer as far as the culinary scene,” she said. “I think sometimes that gets overlooked.”
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