Get Paid to Do What You Love, in Love.
Last Updated February 07, 2017
Love inspires many incredible things in our world: music, poetry, movies, and even food tours! Reid and Jessica Surface are partners in life and business, running the popular Chow Down Charleston Food Tours in South Carolina. To find out more about their unique story and challenges, our Director of Partnerships, Ben Montgomery asks the couple to chow down on how it all began and where they’re going next.
BM: So you’re married! How long have you two known each other?
We met 13 years ago as lab partners in college, so we’ve basically been partners since the very beginning. We’ll be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this summer!
BM: Jessica: Many say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Would you say the same for Reid?
For Reid? I’m going to have to say YES. Unfortunately, he didn’t marry a good cook, so I just have to woo him with a good dinner reservation or take out.
BM: Reid: What about for Jessica?
Travel/Adventure – She hates the mundane. She lives to plan our next adventure. Whether it be a vacation, a home remodelling project, or starting a business; there needs to be something for her to look forward to.
BM: What inspired the idea to start a business together?
We were looking to do something different, something for ourselves. Reid was working long days and long hours for a company that didn’t appreciate all the hard work he was putting in. Plus, we had just filmed an appearance on a home improvement TV show that gave us the opportunity to meet some inspiring people who were all doing what they loved and getting paid for it.
BM: Some people might think that starting a business together could put strain on a relationship. What advice would you offer anyone else that might be considering the same?
We have found a balance in trying to keep things separate. It was hard at first to make time for our relationship and not always talk about the business. It gets easier over time once things turn routine and you find your specific role. However, there will always be something that happens to keep you on your toes!
BM: What would you say is the biggest challenge you faced when starting out?
The hardest thing in the beginning was getting our name out there. We knew we had a great product, but we were the new kids in town and two other companies were already doing something similar. We had to show not only who we were, but what we did that was different.
BM: Aside from taking a Food Tour, what would you say is your ideal date night?
Eating. With so many restaurants to choose from in Charleston, we’re always trying to find a new go-to. This city always hosts amazing art as well, so we love to follow up a good dinner with a play or improv show at a theater downtown.
BM: Charleston is World famous for its incredible food scene, and having been to Charleston (and a very satisfied guest of your Downtown’s Local Flavours Tour) I certainly understand why. As Charleston foodies, what would you say is the best part?
We can always find great food without having to wait in line somewhere. We don’t always think months ahead to make reservations, so those last minute dinner dates can be just as fun and delicious. There are so many hidden places scattered throughout the city that very few know about. It’s so fun to have that close connection with the city through food.
BM: You recently expanded and opened your second product: the “Upper King’s Off the Map Tour”! What advice would you have for other Food Tour Operators who recently started out and are considering their first expansion product?
Do your research and trust your gut instinct. Our biggest challenge was deciding on whether to add more tours for our first route, or develop a new product entirely. It took a lot more work, but we love to show off different parts of Charleston that visitors may never experience on their own.
BM: If you could take a Food Tour in any other city across the Globe, where would it be?
Probably Paris. We visited several years ago for a few short days and never got to truly immerse ourselves in the food culture. Although now a days, anytime we visit a new city, we usually start with a food tour!
BM: Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with us! We can’t wait to get back down to Charleston soon to check out your new tour!
Chow Down Charleston is a Food Tour Company based in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. You can check out more about them and read about their tours here: http://www.chow-downcharleston.com/
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