Local business tours are an excellent way to introduce community members to the people behind the storefronts they pass every day. Through the door of each restaurant, market, insurance office, or repair shop, lies the stories of the people who work hard to serve the needs of the people in their towns.
At “Taste of 27th Street,” on March 22, Lincolnites got to meet the owners of businesses in one of our city’s most diverse neighborhoods. It was an exciting opportunity to not only get introduced to stores and shops they hadn’t visited yet, but also to hear the stories of how the proprietors of these businesses came to call Lincoln home and what they appreciate about growing a business in our community.
“The business owners are excited to share their culture and work with people,” said Nebraska Appleseed Welcoming associate Lee Kreimer. “They’re proud of what they’re doing, and they’re usually doing it by themselves. It’s so special to share that pride with everyone, especially people who didn’t know about these businesses or had never been there before.”
The businesses visited on “Taste of 27th Street” centered around restaurants and markets. Attendees visited Pho Factory, Little Saigon Asian Grocery, Kahramana, and Banhwich Cafe. The tour was organized by local partners the Asian Community and Cultural Center, North 27th Street Business and Civic Association, Neighborworks, and Nebraska Is Home.
“People rally around food,” Kreimer said. “I think they’re really cool because it connects people who’ve never been to these businesses with the business owners who want more community members to come. Business owners are really excited to share their story with people.”
For example, Arkan Abood, owner of Kahramana, a market and bakery at 850 N. 27th St., came to the United States as a refugee from Iraq. Abood greeted visitors on the tour and told his story of how he arrived in Lincoln and started Kahramana. At the end of his stop, he was beaming as he shook the hand of Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, and the two posed for a photo.
Business tours like “Taste of 27th Street” create special occasions that might not happen on their own. Nebraska Is Home Coordinator Christa Yoakum said that while it might not otherwise have occurred to Lincoln residents to seek out new shops and restaurants, bringing community members together in a group creates an energetic, fun atmosphere.
“This provides a way to start relationship,” Yoakum said, “and really expand the guests experience to new flavors and foods, new products and to better know their neighbors.”
Plans for future business tours in other parts of Lincoln and other Nebraska communities are in the works, building on past successes! Previous business tours in Schuyler, Lincoln, Columbus, Crete, and South Sioux City have introduced community members to immigrant-owned businesses that are part of vibrant, strong local economies.
“There will be more opportunities!” Yoakum said. “More Taste of 27th Street events will be scheduled. But watch for other opportunities with other partners across the city because there are many opportunities in Lincoln to experience new restaurants, visit immigrant-owned businesses and meet neighbors.”
If you would like to learn more about being involved with future events to bring community members together, email Nebraska Is Home Coordinator Christa Yoakum, and follow Nebraska Is Home on Facebook and Twitter.