By Sadie Seaman
*About this series: The Innovation District of Chattanooga is featuring businesses that were able to survive the challenges brought by Covid-19. Help your business, nonprofit, or faith-based organization stay ready for a crisis by visiting ResiliencyChecklist.org, a free tool from The Enterprise Center. *
In June of 2019, Briana Garza launched Chatt Taste, a company that takes participants on guided food tours in Chattanooga, stopping at different restaurants for courses, as an alternative to traditional dining. The business was off to a strong start, but the pandemic made these tours nearly impossible, and Briana knew it was crucial to rethink their operations. Though Chatt Taste could no longer take customers to various restaurants, Briana figured out a way to bring local food to customers instead. They developed The Taste of Chattanooga, a monthly subscription box featuring treats and products from local businesses and artisans.
“This allowed us to support local businesses, but also local consumer goods,” Garza said.
Navigating through the early stages of the pandemic was not an easy task for their business, as revenue was cut to zero for nearly three months, and they had to keep their employees paid.
“It was ambiguous and unclear how long we would need to sustain,” Garza said.
Customers wanted to support the business but weren’t comfortable leaving their house, and the new subscription box allowed Chatt Taste to reach their customers right at their doorstep. Pleasantly surprised by its success, they continue to offer these monthly boxes, even though in-person tours are back up and running. They now partner with 19 different local consumer goods businesses to build the box each month. The products change with each box, every month. Some products that have been included in boxes are Hoff’s Hot Sauce, Mad Priest coffee, and Southern Spooning chocolate sauce.
The Taste of Chattanooga subscription box never would have come to fruition without the challenges of the last year, but it’s allowed Chatt Taste to offer their service in a different way and ultimately take their business to the next level. The boxes have given Chatt Taste an opportunity to continue business while also supporting other local businesses.
“The city of Chattanooga supported us wholeheartedly,” Garza said.
Since then, Chatt Taste food tours are back in full swing, while they continue to produce The Taste of Chattanooga boxes. With the support of CO.LAB and River City Company they have expanded their tours and been able to utilize new outdoor spaces, while also exploring the implementation of green transportation for their tours. They recently launched their new Southside food tour and hope to develop more tour options soon!