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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet the Guide: Bob (Part 1)

I met up with tour guide Bob in the Meatpacking District to chat about his involvement with Foods of New York Tours. This week: part 1 (wherein Bob tells the story of how he got started and the myriad of related things he enjoys doing in his retirement).

Bob relaxing under an umbrella at the corner
of Little West 12th Street and 9th Avenue.

How did you start working for Foods of New York Tours?

I had done a Foods of New York Greenwich Village tour probably 6 or 7 years ago. It was a Father's Day gift from my daughter, because by that point she wasn't giving me ties and sweaters anymore; she was sending me on these interesting things to do in New York because she knows I love New York City history. So I went with a friend, and we absolutely loved it.

I retired from the New York State Court system after a 30+ year career about five years ago. As I was getting ready to retire, my daughter called me up and just simply said, "Dad, I have a surprise for you. But you have to be interviewed."
And I said, "What are you talking about?"
She said, "Do you remember that Greenwich Village tour you took a couple years ago that you loved?"
I said, "Yes, of course!"
"Well I contacted the owner. And I told him all about you and that you were retiring and if he had anything related to his company that he could get you involved in, you would love to do it."

So I emailed Todd, and he emailed me back right away asking to meet. And we met, we hit it off, and he at that point had a project: the neighborhood guide that we use right now is a new guide, but the previous one for the Chelsea Market area and Meatpacking I wrote. I ate in all the restaurants, I did the descriptions.

And after doing that for a few months, one spring at a dinner he took me to, he said, "So Bob, are you ready to become a guide for me?" And I was thrilled.

I was already a Big Apple Greeter, I volunteer with the city meeting tourists from all over the world doing free greets. I knew I would be taking my licensing exam at some point because I knew I wanted to do this, and the rest is history. So it's now about five years that I've been doing Chelsea Market.

So Chelsea Market is the one tour that you do?

That's the one that I do because I'm trained in a lot of other stuff. I have my own website, I am licensed, I work with groups, and I have Japanese clients working with an interpreter, I do green tours for architects and engineers, I've been a tour director for student travel where I stay with them at the hotel, and then I also post my own tours doing historic walks through the city in various neighborhoods. Oh, and I'm on staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Of course, because all that other stuff wasn't enough.

No, it wasn't enough. And actually, I'm not done... but we'll leave it at that.

Yes, we will. For now. Come back next week for part 2 of Bob's interview, where he gives a bunch of great recommendations for places to check out in New York, a little taste of history, and an examination of all things cookie!


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