Story and images by MEGAN GILSON
After days of searching for a new job, unable to meet the required qualifications, a frustrated college student decided he would create his own.
The 22-year-old Utah State University student, Austin Jensen, is the founder and owner of Logan Food Tour, a culinary walking tour in the heart of downtown Logan.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a food tour, Jensen described it as “the best way to experience the city and its local restaurants. We dive into the food scene, visiting restaurants and trying their best menu items. As we walk around, we share the history of the downtown area, creating a unique, and delicious experience.”
Logan Food Tour features four of Logan’s best local restaurants — Pollo Azteca, Stacked Pancakes, The Factory Pizzeria, and The Crepery. Ranging from authentic Mexican cuisine to traditional Sicilian-style pizza, each restaurant serves quality, made-from-scratch dishes.
Many ask Jensen if his idea was inspired by his passion. He always replies, “I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about food, or about historical tours, but I am passionate about fulfilling the needs of the people around me. In the end, I think that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.”
In the spring of 2018, Jensen noticed a vast amount of students with a shortage of fun things to do on the weekends. “Logan is a small town, and frankly, there is a lack of local events and cool activities,” he said. “I wanted to build something that would solve the age old question ‘what should we do tonight?’”
A few months later, Jensen was caught up in the frustration of trying to find a job that would give him some relevant job experience for his future career. “I found that every job that sounded remotely interesting and helpful for my future required experience and a degree. So finally, I realized that if no one was willing to give me the experience I need, then I’m just going to gain it myself.” A few weeks later, Logan Food Tour was born.
The road to building any business isn’t easy, and Logan Food Tour was no exception. Jensen put in countless hours building the website, studying up on historical facts, and finding great restaurants to work with.
After all the logistics were in place, Jensen spent weeks advertising the tours. He handed out fliers and cards on campus and started advertising on social media. After a few weeks, he finally saw his hard work pay off when he booked his first tour.
“On the first tour, I was a ball of nerves,” Jensen recalled. “I was worried about guiding the tour, remembering all of the facts and stories, making sure the participants got enough food and keeping people entertained. It turned out I was nervous for no reason. I felt totally in my element, telling stories and cracking cheesy jokes, and the restaurants absolutely delivered with huge samples of delicious food.”
Jensen felt great after his first tour and couldn’t wait for the next ones. He loved helping his guests create new memories, while introducing them to great, local food.
“One of the most rewarding parts is helping local business gain more traction, and attract new customers,” Jensen said. “We have deals with each of the restaurants, they prepare a sample plate of food for our participants, and through our own advertising efforts, we promote their restaurant. It’s mutually beneficial and allows each of us to succeed.”
Alicia Lopez, owner of Pollo Azteca, said, “When the food tour group comes in, people on the street notice my restaurant. They look in my windows and wonder what is going on and why there are so many people. This encourages them to come in and try the food.”
It is seeing the positive impact that Logan Food Tour has on restaurants like Pollo Azteca, the first stop on the food tour, that motivates Jensen to continue working hard and building his business.
Food tour participant Kyle Horton said, “It’s like the ultimate date night! It takes dinner and a movie to a whole new level. We learned cool stories and facts about the place we live, tried new delicious restaurants we had never been to, and left absolutely stuffed.”
When asked about his long-term plans for Logan Food Tour, Jensen said, “I don’t expect to stay in Logan running the tours for the rest of my life, though it would be the funnest career ever. Ideally, in a few years, I will pass down the business to another USU student. At the end of the day, I want to be able to provide someone with valuable experience and give them the chance that no one gave me.”
Jensen has learned more about business in the past three months than he has learned his entire college career. Jensen said the experience has been “eye-opening and invaluable.”
He offers this advice to other students: “Don’t wait until things seem easy, because I don’t think they ever will be. Gaining the experience you need is about doing challenging things now.”