I was invited on the Booze N Brunch tour by Jersey Girls Food Tours on August 25th, 2016. I haven’t been on a food in a very long time and decided why not. This tour was special because it was sponsored by The Beacon and we were able to be shuttled around Jersey City. I also got to see the main plaza in The Beacon and now have friends (the residents who came on the trip) to visit and see the beauty that is inside. It was also cool because it was a mix of their Best of Downtown Tour with a little farther reach.
We made our way to Hamilton Park starting at Hamilton Pork and then on to GP’s Restaurant. We went downtown to Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Co. and Departed Soles because ice cream and beer obviously go great together. Then we went closer to downtown (and the 2016 Pride Parade) and had amazing Mexican food at Orale Mexican Kitchen (I learned it is pronounced ora-lay). Finally, to end the afternoon we went to Maritime Parc and had a feast on the water.
I hope the mouth-watering photos will show you how awesome the tour was. We learned about the restaurants, the owners, and more about the area from Alessia and the restaurants themselves. You can tell how invested both Jersey Girls Food Tours and the restaurants are in each other. This is because Alessia and Janis, the owners of JGFT, have cultivated and continue to grow the relationships with these restaurants.
Jersey Girls Food Tours was started when Alessia met Janis and decided she wanted to make her own food tour. Alessia was able to take her experience from previous tour companies, corporate food companies, and working in the restaurant industry; and with Janis, they joined forces and created a great product. The Best of Downtown Food Tour is there primary tour highlighting the “culinary renaissance” that has happened in Jersey City over the past few years.
As you can see, Alessia had been working in the food industry for a long time. She first got hooked on food tours when she did the Savor Seattle Food Tours at Pike Market in 2009. The concept stuck with her and in every city she goes on a food tour. She always thought “why isn’t anyone doing this in New Jersey and doing it the right way - bringing people to the area to showcase all the great chefs and the great city we are in.”
Her love of food brought her to Yelp, but it was not for her. So she did like anyone else would do and backpacked through South America. When she came back, she worked in the restaurant industry getting the behind the scenes perspective. “It was really nice to see how hard chefs work and bust their butts to put an amazing meal in front of us. I am glad I got that side of the experience.”
She then found Dish Crawl, which is how she met Janis. Dish crawl was a company based out of Los Angeles doing food tours. It was great marketing experience and learning how to sell tours. She headed the Jersey City tours. Janis was supposed to go on a food tour and on that day Alessia decided that she didn’t want to work for Dish Crawl any longer. They exchanged information and “after weeks went by we reconnected and realized we both had the same ideas and wanted to work toward the same thing.” So they joined forces along with Garden State Food Tours as a 3rd partner. It didn’t work out with so they rebranded in a month and become Jersey Girls Food Tours.
What is so awesome about Janis and Alessia is that they are both total foodies. They met and got along from the get go; exchanging ideas. “It is cool that the friendship and business partnership happened simultaneously. I think that is is kind of rare for people.” To make you even more jealous, their family backgrounds have some serious street credit in the food industry - Alessia is Israeli and Argentinean by the way of Sicily and Janis is Cuban and Chinese. I can only image the food that goes on during the holidays.
Project in the works:
One huge project that will be up from September until the January is the Portrait Project with Tatsuro Nishimura, a local and amazing photographer. They had met at an eightymag party and a few months later Tatsuro reached out. He told Alessia, “I am looking to expand my photo portfolio for chefs and food. You have the contacts. This is a win win for both of us. Can you help me do this?” They said of course and it has turned into an awesome partnership. They currently have 20 chefs photographed and they want to do more. Eventually they want to make a coffee table book with the jersey city food scene - hard cover, beautiful photos, recipes, endorsements. Right now it is going up in the atrium in the Mack Cali building (1 Harborside) downtown. It will be up for 5 months from Sept to January. Reception will be happening right before JCAST weekend and it will be a stop on JCAST.
And they have huge future plans:
They are looking to make a name for themselves and really make their core product, The Best of Downtown, what they are known for. They have also applied for a grant with the State Tourism office and “we hope this will help us with marketing and advertising, so we can build that following for downtown Jersey City.”
Along these lines they are considering working with Elizabeth, NJ as they are really into food tours and supporting it. And if they can build a model of a city supporting the tourism product then “we can take it to other cities. Look at these results we got from working with x city, let’s bring it here too!” They have Hoboken, Montclair, and Rutherford on their minds as well. And as ever the entrepreneurs, they would like to hire some local tour guides because “getting some people jobs is always a good thing.”
Check out Jersey Girls Food Tours and sign up for one of their great tours.
Also stay tuned because once they get back from their food tour trip through Italy we will be planning a Growing in Jersey City Tour.
Want to learn more about the food tour and have your taste buds tantalized? Check out my article on Have a Night and get the scoop on every dish we ate.
Photos were taken by Jenna Firshein and Alessia Aron of Jersey Girls Food