Briana Garza started her ChattTaste Tours about a year ago, and her tours around the West Village and the electric bike Taco Tours around the North Shore have proven popular, so it shouldn't be a surprise that all four M.L. King Food Tours she has planned for Friday are sold out.
"People like getting out of the house and doing things," she said.
When looking for a way to create a tour along King Boulevard, she said, Juneteenth, or June 19, the date which commemorates the actual ending of slavery in the United States, made the most sense.
"It was important for me personally to educate and highlight this moment in time, and for me, the best way to approach a tough situation or topic is over food. The conversations flow a little easier," she said.
Each of the four tours on Friday will be conducted curbside and limited to six people, and even though the actual tours are full, you can still enjoy the food, just maybe not in person, and virtually join the tour.
The four participating restaurants — Uncle Larry's, Memo's Grill, Chatt Smoke House and Neutral Ground, located inside the Proof Bar & Incubator — will be serving tapas-sized plates of their signature dishes.
Garza didn't want to give the menus away, but the four specialize in catfish, chopped wieners, barbecue and Cajun food, respectively.
"It will be good," she promised.
It will also be educational and fun, she said. All four restaurants are within a few hundred yards of each other. While patrons are walking from Chatt Smoke House to Memo's, they will be listening to music via headphones provided by Privileged Chattanooga, a local business that does Silent Disco events.
So as not to disrupt the businesses' regular clientele, the tour patrons will dine curbside. Guides will share the stories and histories of the restaurants and the families that run them.
"I think it's wonderful," said Memo's co-owner Vic Williams. "It's a great opportunity to get some extra exposure."
Williams inherited the business from his father, Richard, along with his sister Mona Hammonds. His dad bought the business 54 years ago when Vic was 10. He said his father started in the food industry as a teenager at an ice cream place called Frozen Joy.
"They made him a manager when he was 15. He bought the place when he was 17 with a loan from my grandfather. After he bought Memo's, my mom ran [Frozen Joy] and Dad ran Memo's."
He said the tour on Friday will be about food, but "also history. And, the stories. The different human stories."
Proof will host a short finale at the end of each tour.
"We will be following the Tennessee Pledge guidelines," Garza said.
The cost is $55 per person, with tours taking place at 4, 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. Garza said several businesses have signed on as sponsors and provided goodies for gift bags and door prizes.
For those who weren't able to buy a ticket, you can still participate. You can pre-order the meals for pickup at Chatt Smokehouse by noon Friday. The deadline to preorder is 8 a.m. Friday. You can also follow along with the tours on Facebook as they happen live.
The cost is $35 for one, $60 for two or $105 for a family of four.
Garza said she will determine after Friday if more such events will take place, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis, but she also wants to make the Juneteenth event a regular one.
"I hope this becomes an annual event, and I also hope people leave full, learn something and meet a new friend," she said.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.