INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Foodways Alliance launched in 2007 with a mission to promote locally-owned restaurants around the state. The nonprofit’s biggest initiative is the creation of 19 culinary trails, more than any other state in the country. One of the most popular trails is the Tenderloin Lovers Trail, which includes 72 stops and the IFA’s Lindsey Skeen says the trails are helping restaurants as they navigate through the impact of the pandemic.

Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman visited a few stops on the Tenderloin Lovers Trail. Patrick Rice, owner of The Tin Plate in Elwood, said they’ve taken a hit because of the pandemic.

“We are down about 40% for the year of 2020,” said Rice. “Through the help of Indiana Foodways, we have still been able to get people to come in from out of town.”

Gary Brammer, owner of The Bank in Pendleton, says his restaurant was built on the tenderloin, which is his number one seller. Like The Tin Plate, Brammer says COVID restrictions had a major impact on his restaurant.

“It’s been incredibly hard,” said Brammer. “In fact, one time, the only money in the bank was the government money and then when you take off 50% of your seats, that makes it tough as well.”

The Indiana culinary trails have been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Dylan Wickhersham with Mrs. Wick’s Pies in Winchester, known equally for their tenderloin sandwiches and sugar cream pies, says the culinary trails put them on the map.

“A lot of people really enjoy food tourism and it’s a cool thing to do to go and try different restaurants with these similar foods within our state,” said Wickersham. “It supports local businesses and it also drives some tourism to our area which really helps our community.”

Skeen says restaurant owners continue to tout the impact of the culinary trails. 

“Our mission is to support those locally-owned restaurants throughout the state and we feel like the Indiana culinary trails is the way to do that.”