Indiana Foodways Alliance

Madison culinary entrepreneurs
selected for state food alliance

Alliance was formed to promote,
develop local food culture

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

Susan Haller

Susan Haller

(October 2008) – “Where is there to eat around here?”
That question has been asked countless times throughout countless communities in Indiana by both visitors and residents of the small cities and towns sprinkled throughout the state. The Indiana Foodways Alliance was created in 2007 to help both Hoosiers and tourists find and enjoy the varied culinary treasures that are available in the state.
Recently, several Madison, Ind., food-related businesses were evaluated and accepted into the prestigious alliance. The Madison Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau paid the annual fee of $500 to join the program this year and is helping to promote the program and encourage other food-related business in the community to participate. Tourism officials hope that in future years, participating restaurants can pay the fee to retain their status with the alliance.
The businesses that met the criteria were added to the list of culinary trails developed by the alliance. Madison businesses are part of the Scenic By-Ways food trail on the Indiana Foodways Alliance website, www.indianafoodway.com.
“We assess potential culinary sites but only take above average food that reflects well on Indiana culinary tourism,” said Indiana Foodways Alliance Director Susan Haller. “Madison has more of an inventory than most places and is actually one of the premiere culinary towns in the state.”

Madison-Jefferson County Indiana
Foodway Alliance Participants

• The Attic and Coffee Mill Cafe, 631 E. Main St.
• Hinkle’s Sandwich Shop, 204 W. Main St.
• Bistro One, 122 E. Main St.
• The Downtowner, 104 & 106 E. Main St.
• Lanthier Winery, 123 Mill St.
• Key West Shrimp House: 117 Ferry St.
• The Red Pepper, 902 W. Main St.
• Rogers Diner, 101 E. Main St.
• Cocoa Safari, 118 W. Main St.
• Shipley’s Tavern, 322 West St.
• Madison Vineyards Estate Winery
and Bed & Breakfast, 1456 E. 400 N.
• Mundt’s, 207 W. Main St.
• Thomas Family Winery, 208 E. Second St.

The Indiana Foodways Alliance was created by members of the I-69 Cultural Corridor Association in 2007 after a commissioned feasibility study revealed there were more than 68 authentic rural culinary tourism sites in eight northeastern Indiana counties alone. While it began with the I-69 corridor, the Alliance has rapidly expanded into a statewide organization dedicated to the development and promotion of the local food culture of Indiana.
“During a recent study on tourism, it was discovered that 30 percent of tourists visit a spot based on what is available in local food,” said Haller. “That is a tremendous percentage of travelers that can be enticed to communities who get the information out there about their food businesses; we help put those travelers and communities together.”
She said the Indiana Foodways Alliance is also working to help attract food related industry to the state. She is hopeful that the Indiana Foodways Alliance can do for Indiana what the Southern Foodways Alliance has done for the south. “Food related industry, such as Viking Range, has relocated to rural Mississippi towns from major urban areas because of the SFA,” said Haller.
The SFA has more than 800 members throughout the southern United States. The organization promotes preserves and cultivates the diverse culinary culture of the area through a variety of programs. “The SFA made ‘sweet tea’ and ‘biscuits and gravy’ household terms. We want that kind of success for Indiana,” said Haller.
In spring 2008, Haller made two visits to Madison to evaluate potential culinary businesses for the Indiana Foodways Alliance. Thirteen food-related businesses, including a chocolate maker, candy shop, two wineries and nine restaurants were invited to participate in the program.
“Many of the Madison businesses are off the so-called ‘beaten path,’ ” said Haller. “Our culinary trail is important because it lets visitors and residents know where these places are.”
All of the businesses in Madison that are now part of the Indiana Foodways Alliance are in downtown Madison. However, Haller was asked to return to Madison this fall to evaluate several hilltop businesses and others in downtown. She returned Sept. 24 to do that.
In order to be evaluated, businesses have to be locally owned and operated. Chain restaurants are not eligible for the program. “Culinary tourists are looking for an “authentic” experience they can only get in that particular area,” explained Haller.
The businesses have to be open for at least a year, and they have to be nominated by the area tourism department.
“This is going to generate business for anyone who participates,” said Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Lytle. “We know people travel specifically for cuisine, and we want to let them know what is in our community. We also want to let people that live here know what is actually available for them.”
Lytle said the CVB’s decision to pay to participate in the program was made to help local restaurateurs step up to a higher level of quality. “The No. 1 question we get is, “Where is a good place to eat?’ “ she told the CVB board at a recent meeting.
The Attic and Coffee Mill Café, 631 E. Main St., is one of the restaurants recently included in the Indiana Foodways Alliance. Owned by Julie Truax and Judy George, the cafe is known for its signature Dutch Apple Pie with Caramel Icing and its assortment of paninis.
“We are honored and excited about being included on the new food trail,” said Truax. “I anticipate it will help attract people to this area and to the shops that are included on the trail.”
Officials from the Indiana Foodways Alliance visited her cafe earlier this year, took pictures, asked questions and “did some thorough research,” according to Truax.
For the businesses in Madison that meet the strict Indiana Foodways Alliance criteria, the Madison CVB will give them a special decal. The alliance’s logo will also be added to the business’ listing on the CVB website.

• For more information about the Indiana Foodways Alliance, contact the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (812) 265-2956 or visit: www.indianafoodways.com.

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