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Walking Tour Biz Promotes North County Foodie Scene

TOURISM: Two-Woman Operation Eyeing Regional Expansion

OCEANSIDE – Once known as a Marine town with a rough edge, Oceanside has opened so many quality restaurants, breweries and wineries in recent years that visitors and residents might not know where to begin. 

That’s where Carla and Linda’s Local Tours come in. 

“We love Oceanside,” said Linda Pina, who opened the walking tour with her wife, Carla Werts, nine years ago. “We want people to show how beautiful Oceanside is.” 

Pina said she first experienced a walking food tour in downtown San Diego about 15 years ago as a birthday celebration with a man who received a kidney she donated. 

While working as notaries a few years later, the two began noticing how many new restaurants were opening in their city, and they decided it was time for Oceanside to have their own food tour. 

“Barrel Republic was our first restaurant,” Pina said. “They had just been here for a couple of months. They said, ‘We don’t understand your concept, but you’re new and we’re new, so let’s do it.’” 

While Barrel Republic recently closed, more restaurants have opened, and so has the couple’s business. 

Changing Names 

The couple began including beer and wine stops as part of their tour, and last year they changed the name of their business from Linda and Carla’s Walking Food Tour to Linda and Carla’s Local Tours. 

The two also split duties, with Pina taking a group of about a dozen customers on a tour of four restaurants on a recent Saturday while Werts led another group to breweries and wineries. 

They also offer private tours and a tour of Vista establishments once a month, and Pina said Escondido has contacted them to begin tours in that city next year. 

Food and beer tours are $84 a person and are booked at www.ShoesandChews.com. Vegetarian options are offered if requested in advance, and wine tours are $99. 

“Our tour is special,” Pina said. “You take our food tour, and when you’re done, you’re not going to need dinner and you’re going to know so many things about Oceanside.” 

About 60% of their customers are locals and 40% are tourists, she said. 

Whether they’re local or visitors, their customers come away with some insight into the city’s heritage. 

“That’s the old AT&T building,” Pina said on a recent tour as she pointed to a residential complex. “And that’s Calvary Chapel. It’s been there since the 1800s.” 

The couple promotes the business through social media. An Instagram video of a tour stop at the restaurant Allmine has had 7 million views and 15,000 separate viewers, Pina said. 

Oceanside Welcomes LGBTQ   

The growing number of hotels, restaurants and other attractions in Oceanside isn’t the only thing that has changed in the city over the years, she said. 

“I have noticed a lot more LGBTQ people out and about downtown,” she said. “You see a lot more, especially Thursday nights for (the weekly farmers market) Sunset Market. I see a lot more people embracing than having to hide themselves. I have seen it change, and there’s a lot of young people who are not going to hide themselves.”

 

Carla and Linda’s Local Tours
FOUNDED: Late 2015
CO-OWNERS: Linda Pina and Carla Werts
EMPLOYEES: 2
WEBSITE: ShoesandChews.com
NOTABLE: The startup is Oceanside’s first foodie walking tour. 

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