Gettysburg reminds Lori Korczyk of Epcot.
Just like the Disney park’s microcosm of world cultures, Gettysburg’s downtown streets are dotted with eclectic and ethnic restaurants, from Thai to Mexican, Italian to Irish, plus plenty of American eateries that blend cuisines—like melting pots—with culture and history.
The Adams County town’s crossroads drew Union and Confederate soldiers together during the pivotal 1863 Civil War battle and sealed its role in American history. Today, “the most famous small town in America” continues to draw more than a million visitors annually.
Korczyk saw an opportunity to establish Savor Gettysburg Food Tours (SGFT) six years ago, to appeal to foodies and history lovers alike.
“I always tell people to make a food tour the very first thing you do when traveling, because it gives you the lay of the land, maps out paces to eat and visit, and answers so many questions a traveler needs to know,” said Korczyk.
Keep It Fresh
During Korczyk’s “Historic Downtown Gettysburg Food Tour,” which spans three hours and about one mile, attendees visit and sample dishes from six restaurants.
Tour-goers try some of the best specialty dishes from downtown bistros and restaurants. A winery shop pairs wines with local fruit and cheese; an ice cream shop delivers a sweet ending.
Along the way, Gettysburg’s historic backdrop provides the tour’s flavor. Korczyk explains what the town and its civilians experienced during the Battle of Gettysburg.
“I knew there were remnants of the war, but I had never seen the cannonball or all the bullet holes in the brick walls,” said Amy Boothroyd of Hanover, who took a tour last October with her husband Josh to celebrate their anniversary. “Our tour guide pointed everything out.”
It was history that drew the Korczyks to Gettysburg for their retirement years—now they’re both tour guides. With a background in the retail and food service industry, Lori developed SGFT. Her husband Larry, a lifelong history buff, is now a licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg National Military Park who also leads SGFT.
To keep it fresh, Korczyk occasionally shifts the tour lineup. But, she said, the Garryowen Irish Pub has been on the tour since day one, serving up shepherd’s pie and Magners Irish Cider.
Owned by Irish transplants Joanne and Kevin McCready, the Garryowen has racked up numerous awards and accolades, including “Best Irish Food Experience in North America” by Irish Pubs Global in 2017.
“Growing up in Ireland, we’re used to bars and restaurants being one thing, and that’s what we tried to do—not make an Irish bar, but to just make it a bar,” said Kevin, who was a carpenter in Ireland, then in Manhattan. “That way, it’s authentic.”
The couple, “together since we were both 16 in ’84,” said Kevin, moved to Gettysburg to be closer to friends and to open the Garryowen in 2007.
“It’s the longest I’ve ever had one job in my life,” Kevin remarked.
Tour-goers hear plenty of tales in the pub. Then there’s the authentic shepherd’s pie, Joanne’s mother’s recipe, and the extensive menu of 112 Irish whiskeys. And you may notice the hundreds of police and fire department patches tacked into the pub’s rafters.
“A guy who used to hang out here worked for the National Park Service,” McCready said. “He gave us a patch, and it snowballed from there.”
There’s Irish history, too. A wall mural pays homage to the 1916 Easter Rising leaders, who paved the way for today’s Republic of Ireland. The restaurant’s new courtyard showcases Irish-themed memorabilia, including a tin Titanic sign, a nod to Joanne’s great-grandfather, who worked on the iconic ship.
This year, a new addition to SGFT is the Hoof, Fin & Fowl, which features authentic seafood dishes by Baltimore native, chef/owner Jeff Jurkowski.
“We’ll feature one dish from the sea and one from land—our popular lamb lollipops,” said Jurkowski, who grew up in a family of Chesapeake Bay watermen.
After operating a popular roadside crab business in York for years, Jurkowski opened the Hoof, Fin & Fowl last September. His seafood experience guides his menu, which he describes as “adventuresome,” with fresh rockfish, pan-seared duck breast, authentic Maryland crab cakes and more.
He said that one of the best things about being on the tour is the personal connection with attendees.
“People always like to meet the owner,” he said. “The hope is people will enjoy their samples, remember us, and come back for dinner.”
Annually, about 1,500 people attend 120 SGFT events, April through November. In December, Korczyk offers Christmas-themed food tours. Additionally, her daylong, summertime “Field-to-Fork Agritourism Experience” has transported past attendees to the Adams County countryside to pet goats and sample goat cheese, pick mushrooms and apples, sample wine and cider, and meet farmers and makers along the way.
“I’m definitely a foodie,” said Korczyk, who began baking alongside her mother at the age of 8.
And she’s enjoyed food tours in Rome, Venice, Quebec, Orlando, Vermont and—one of her favorites—Savannah, Ga. Korczyk has gleaned techniques and tips from all of them, woven into SGFT. Her downtown tour script, written out, spans 45 pages of material—all memorized—from the local historical society, battlefield guides, plus restaurant owners and chefs.
“Food tastes so much better when you know the total story—when you can talk to the restaurant owner, learn about the business and recipes,” Korczyk said. “And that’s what gives you memories.”
For more information on Savor Gettysburg Food Tours, visit www.savorgettysburgfoodtours.com.