BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Theresa Nemetz

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:14 pm

Theresa Nemetz, owner of Milwaukee Food & City Tours
Company address: 2419 N. 62nd Street, Wauwatosa, WI 53213
Industry: Tourism
Number of employees: 18
Family: Husband, Wade; 1-year-old son, Enzo

What kinds of tours does Milwaukee Food & City Tours offer?
“Milwaukee Food & City Tours is a locally-operated, woman-owned company focused on showcasing the best Milwaukee has to offer in both food and sightseeing. Think of a food tour as a progressive meal, with a side of history. Guests arrive at a pre-determined location, are escorted to four to five restaurants and eateries, and enjoy generous portions that add up to a meal. Along the way, their experience is infused with historical commentary about the neighborhood and the restaurants we visit. Some of our most popular tours include the Bloody Mary Brunch, Pizza Bus, Brady Street walking tour, and Cedarburg ‘Sweets & Treats’ tour.”

How do you go about blending food, culture and history on your tours?
“From our tour guides, restaurant partners and most importantly, our attendees, Milwaukee Food & City Tours is based on a passion for food and a love of the city of Milwaukee. We have built our tours by looking at the city through the eyes of tourists seeing Milwaukee for the first time or locals rediscovering their old neighborhoods.”

When and how did you conceive the idea behind Milwaukee Food & City Tours?
“My inspiration for the Milwaukee Food & City Tour was twofold. First, I came across a food tour while on vacation with my husband and was instantly hooked on the culinary tourism craze, and second, my great-grandparents immigrated from Santa Flavia, Sicily, for better opportunity in the early-1900s and settled in the Brady Street area of Milwaukee. Growing up in a dynamic neighborhood, having a passion for the city, add in an appetite for great food… and our recipe for success was complete. Although this idea began as a hobby, it has now developed into a year-round, full-time operation with both walking and bus tours and positively supporting the local economy.”

How do you go about selecting restaurants and sites for your tours?
“In general, we try to build a story about a neighborhood or genre of food and compliment it with the restaurants we go to. For example, we recently launched our ‘Pre-Prohibition: Historic Bar Tour’ in which we built a story around the idea of visiting four of Milwaukee’s most historic and famous pre-prohibition bars. Factors such as location, hours of operation, wheelchair and restroom accessibility, and an ability to accommodate larger groups on a regular basis often impact the locations that we include on tour itineraries as well.”

How would you describe Milwaukee’s food culture? What sets Milwaukee’s food scene apart from that of other cities?
“Milwaukee’s food culture is ever changing, first influenced by the many German, Polish, Irish and Italian immigrant groups that came to settle Milwaukee in the 1800s, and continues to change with the influx of new immigrants and generations to the area. Milwaukee is unique in that our older food traditions, such as our German cuisine, remains a strong part of our dining scene today. On our Old World 3rd Street tour, we love that we can show off where Milwaukee’s old German traditions meet up with Milwaukee’s new dishes as well.”

Do you have a business mantra?
“We are always ready to change and willing to be flexible to customer requests. We look to our customers for feedback about locations and cuisine and make adjustments on a constant basis to our tour offerings. Over the years, we continually heard from customers requesting certain genres of food that they would like to see featured on a tour. As a result, we created the ‘You Asked For It’ limited-edition tour series to test out customer ideas and now are offering outings featuring Milwaukee’s most historic custard stands, a tour showcasing the Friday night tradition of a Fish Fry, a high-end coffee roasting experience, and a soon-to-be launched Racine Kringle & Bakery Bus tour for the Christmas holidays! We also launched a Hop On / Hop Off Sightseeing Tour Bus in which guests may get on and off the bus at any scheduled stop to visit some of Milwaukee’s most popular attractions as a direct result of feedback from hotels and event planners that saw a need for this type of tour experience.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“Having recently entered the world of motherhood, myself, I have an even greater respect for anyone that juggles being a small business owner and motherhood to young children. Some local mom entrepreneurs that I admire most include Sandy Murphy of Cold Spoons Gelato / Highlands Café, Maria Vella of Peter Sciortino’s Bakery, Julie Waterman of Indulgence Chocolatiers, Marisa Lang of Classic Slice Pizza, Lauren Schultz of Purple Door Ice Cream, and Angela Quigley of”

What was the best advice you ever received?
“Transferable not only in my business practices, the best advice received was, ‘never say never.’ Rarely will I turn down an opportunity – you never know where one opportunity may lead you next! Although we offer a full menu of standard public tours, we always are willing to create custom tour experiences. Because taking new opportunities has allowed us to expand our custom offerings, we have hosted individuals from around the world for local companies showing off Milwaukee to potential employees and clients, host many team outings on unique mystery trips and excursions, have developed several unique bachelor and bachelorette party options, and even purchased our own signature green buses that have allowed us continue to grow our company.”  

What do you like to do in your free time?
“Free time? With a growing company, marriage and young child, I haven’t been able to carve out a lot of free time over recent years! When I do have a moment, though, I enjoy peaceful late night shopping trips up and down the aisles at Target, attempts at creating Pinterest-inspired crafts, roadtrips around the Midwest to check out new pizzerias, and drives in my vintage Mini for a scoop of custard.”

What is your favorite Milwaukee dish?
“Truly, my favorite Milwaukee dish depends on what neighborhood I’m in, and what I’m hungry for at the moment!”

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