Before launching New Smyrna Beach's first and only walking food tour, Kelly Laub spent the majority of her adult life in sales and marketing. When she relocated to Florida from Maryland in 2013, she was working for a lighting distributor. She was a telecommuter that worked from home but, as Laub shared, she was more than ready for a change.
"I'd been unhappy at my job long enough and thought to myself, 'You only live once'," she said. "I love restaurants and NSB has a lot of great ones. I wanted to start a business that gave people an opportunity to experience these wonderful restaurants. I've done food tours in other places and thought, 'This is exactly what NSB needs'."
Planning started in the early part of 2018. Laub began by researching what other food tours did and studying their websites. From there, she built her own website and then met with local restaurants to get them on-board. According to Laub, most were supportive and embraced the idea of showcasing New Smyrna's culinary scene. With all the pieces in place, including an Eventbrite site where events are posted, the business officially kicked off in November of 2018.
Laub described the Eat NSB experience and what her customers should expect. "We'll meet at a certain location on or near Canal Street," she said. "I'll do a short introduction and from there, we walk to our first restaurant. We're usually at each restaurant for about 25 minutes and depending on the tour, we'll do three to six stops. Within about five minutes of sitting down, usually the chef or owner will come out to greet the group and tell us about the restaurant. The food is typically served as either small dishes or a few large appetizers that everyone can share. What's great is that some of the food served on our tours are things you can't even order on the menu. The chefs get creative and really gear the food towards true foodies."
Since launching in November, Laub shared that she's been very active with local organizations and getting plugged into the business community. She advertises on Facebook, Instagram, Visit Florida and Trip Advisor. She enjoys getting out the house and meeting new people. For Laub, being part of a community she loves and providing locals and visitors with the ability to experience some great food is one of the biggest payoffs.
Looking ahead, Laub is 100% focused on taking her business to the next level. She's considering other tours including a brunch tour, a Flagler Ave tour and possibly evening tours. She even wants to see about getting a mini coach bus bus to pick up people from Port Canaveral and drive them north to experience the blossoming culinary scene of New Smyrna Beach, along with other attractions including the History Museum, farmers markets, art galleries, paddle-boarding and dolphin watching.
What advice does Laub have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Besides, go for it because you only live once, I would say to find the support you need so you can take the risk," she said. "You'll never know until you try and you can't take your money with you when you die. Starting a business is scary, but it's also exhilarating at the same time."