By Kathleen Pierce
Bangor Daily News, Maine
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This month Pam Laskey’s “Maine Foodie Tours” was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Woman Owned Small Business of the Year for Maine. The award salutes locals who have scaled up by tapping the SBA’s Maine-based resources.
It started with a trip to Standard Bakery. Harbor Fish Market came next. Out of the loaves and fishes arose an entrepreneurial revelation: walking food tours around Portland. If new transplant Pam Laskey loved it, wouldn’t the masses?
The results speak for themselves.
This month Laskey’s Maine Foodie Tours was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Woman Owned Small Business of the Year for Maine. The award salutes locals who have scaled up by tapping the SBA’s Maine-based resources.
“When I came to Portland from Boston I was looking to purchase a business. I noticed there were not a lot of actual tours,” said Laskey. “Considering the amount of people coming here it made sense and I was falling in love with the food scene.”
Her culinary walking tours of the Old Port launched in 2009, the same year Bon Appetit published an article highlighting Portland’s emerging food scene. The plucky Laskey, who was reared in Old Town, started to approach Portland gelato makers, chefs and chocolatiers one by one. At first the reaction was mixed.
“I wasn’t a local. People didn’t know what I was up to,” she said.
After three years of pouring more into her startup than she was receiving in return, the tide turned.
“Social media and review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp helped my business transform overnight,” she said. “It’s a built-in, wonderful sales generator.”
Now Laskey employees around 30 people and has expanded to Kennebunk, Rockland, Camden and Bar Harbor. This summer she’ll add boat tours to South Portland to focus on newcomers like Foulmouthed Brewing. And new tasting tours of burgeoning culinary pockets of Portland, like Washington Avenue, will kick off soon.