The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its 10th annual International Marketplace Taste & Tour along Independence Avenue. The afternoon of Friday, Sept. 16 will be filled with delicious snacks, treats and drinks from 14 international restaurants and coffee shops that call the Northeast home.
Begin your journey in Italy at the American Sons of Columbus, where you will receive a passport and map, and board the trolley that will take you to each stop.
“I’m really excited that the 2022 Taste and Tour, which is our 10th annual Taste and Tour, is back on the road again,” said Bobbi Baker-Hughes, President and CEO of the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “Last year we had a great Taste and Tour at a stationary outdoor location because, you know, Aunt COVID came to visit, and the year before we did a great tour of the avenue, going to the various restaurants.”
Historically, the Chamber had the restaurants set up in a central location.
“People came there to visit the restaurant proprietors and taste the foods, but it’s just not the same as when you are riding down the avenue on the trolley, hearing the stories of bygone way of life and hearing the stories of these immigrant and refugee businesses that are literally living the American dream on Independence Avenue,” Baker-Hughes said. “That’s truly an experience to be able to walk into a place that they call home, and they invite you into their home to break bread. That’s what Independence Avenue really has to offer in our International Marketplace.”
She thinks the Taste and Tour being back on the road will attract visitors who want to get a real taste of the flavors of where the business owners come from. The Chamber is excited to share the authenticity and the diversity that are apparent throughout the community and showcased by local restaurants.
“[We’ll have] everything from coffee shops who serve cannolis and Italian ice to Somali sambusa, a little bit of tacos – not just Mexican tacos, tacos from all over South America.”
Just like regional favorites found throughout the U.S., Baker-Hughes shared that, depending on the country or region, recipes for empanadas or tamales can change from restaurant to restaurant on the Avenue.
“We have the Vietnamese restaurant, we have the Mexican ice cream, that will be a fine dessert,” Baker-Hughes said. “A bit of everything from breakfast to dessert, and coffee that helps make it all go down, on the Avenue. You can travel the world on the Avenue, taste food and see products from around the world, and never have to get off the Avenue.”
Past Taste and Tours have included trolley rides throughout Northeast, and are always a favorite attraction.
“Every year we’ve had a trolley, even when we had our locations where the restaurants came to us, we still did a community tour, so the taste was in one building and then the tour was a larger footprint of the Northeast,” Baker-Hughes said. “This time we just want to really help people experience the Avenue. You know, the Avenue gets a lot of bad press, and I think that this is what the Avenue really is, it’s small businesses trying to eke out a living and celebrate their culture and their heritage all in one space.”
Baker-Hughes hopes to attract visitors both from Northeast and from around the metro area.
“I think our folks inside Northeast are very often just able to walk out their front door and walk to their local restaurant,” Baker-Hughes said. “People from outside of the Northeast don’t have any idea what hidden gems are in different pockets of the community, so we just want to take them down that one street and give them a taste so that they’ll come back and do it again.”
Northeast has been described as a melting pot as cultures from across the world have blended here for decades, but for this particular tour, it’s more like a potluck.
“Those who have been there for a long time start to meet and greet the new restaurant owners, and part of building a great community is that our restaurants and our shops start to know one another,” Baker-Hughes said. “I think for a long time they didn’t know one another, but now they can wave to one another, they shop and eat at one another’s stores. It’s not unusual to walk into one of our coffee shops and see one of our business owners, one of our restaurateurs, in there having a cup of coffee and just kind of relaxing and taking a break from building their business for generations yet to come.”
Baker-Hughes is excited to try the new Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Bowl, but is also looking forward to the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce stop with Sambusa, history and information on Northeast, and beer and wine.
“Everybody has an opportunity to come out and just sit back and enjoy the ride, and fill up your bellies with some of the greatest food in the city, and the greatest food from around the world,” Baker-Hughes said.
The International Marketplace Taste and Tour will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting and ending at the Sons of Columbus, 2415 Independence Ave. Taste and Tour tickets are available online at www.eventbrite.com/