New pairing: River City Food Tours buys Richmond Brewery Tours

River City Food Tours’s purchase of Richmond Brewery Tours included the latter’s tour bus, which will be used to introduce new types of tours.

A local walking food tour company has acquired a brewery-focused competitor and its first set of wheels.

River City Food Tours announced last week its acquisition of Richmond Brewery Tours.

The deal, which closed in May with undisclosed terms, gives the food tour business a year-round brewery tour arm, as well as a 14-passenger tour bus that will give the food tour operation the added option of being motorized for the first time since its launch five years ago.

Brian Beard, co-owner of River City Food Tours, said the acquisition is in line with River City Food Tours’ long term growth plans, and was in the works prior to the pandemic.

A River City Food Tours group visits Charm School Social Club. The tour company has expanded beyond its walking food tours to include brewery and other tours with the recent acquisition of Richmond Brewery Tours. (Photo courtesy of River City Food Tours)

“We exclusively did walking food tours, and us adding brewery tours felt like a natural extension,” said Beard, who owns the company with his wife Erin.

The bus, which came as part of the acquisition, will allow food tours that cover more ground than with the on-foot model, though the company will continue to offer walking tours. It will also be used for a Christmas light tour.

Though the acquisition allows some consolidation of operations, Richmond Brewery Tours’ prior programs will continue to be offered, Beard said.

Tommy Miller, who owned and operated Richmond Brewery Tours prior to the deal, launched the company in 2013 and had been running it as a side gig.

“I realized I took it as far as I could. At the end of the day, it’s a side business and I have a full-time job and a family,” said Miller, who is a business manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “I picked good people (to run Richmond Brewery Tours). They will be able to take it to the next level.”

Looking forward, the plan is to create a single public-facing brand identity for River City Food Tours and Richmond Brewery Tours that’s still to be determined.

After putting a temporary stop on operations due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, the tour company started to get the ball rolling on tours in a limited fashion in the summer. Business on the food tour side of operations is about 20 to 25 percent of what it was this time last year, Beard said.

In other food-and-beverage tour news, RVA BBQ Tours launched a caravan-style tour concept focused on barbecue joints this summer.

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