Spoke Talk: Bike shop cafe trend could be inspired by Steamboat
August 30, 2013
Steamboat Springs — I was reading The Wall Street Journal recently and came across an interesting article about a trend among bike shops across the country. From major urban areas, including Denver, to small towns, the names of which I did not recognize, there is a trend among bike shops to have a coffee shop incorporated into them. Customers who bring their bikes in to have flats repaired or for minor maintenance can sit in an oversized chair and have coffee, read a book or connect to the Internet while they wait.
While this trend began with coffee, it did not take long for the concept to expand, and bike shops began incorporating bars, microbreweries, sandwich shops and other kinds of eateries. It seems similar to the evolution that bookstores went through starting about 20 years ago. Many of the shops tried the idea of the bike mechanics also being the baristas and vice versa. That concept, while novel, was not too well-received, especially on the food prep, serving and consumption side of shops.
As I was reading along in the article, I started to project the concept onto Steamboat. Before I got all the way through, I realized the idea does not need to be projected onto Steamboat because it is Steamboat. In fact, Steamboat could be the place where the idea was conceived because our great bike shops, bistros, coffee shops, delis, sandwich shops and watering holes are all within a stone's throw of one another. It is no problem to drop off your bike and then walk across the street or around the corner to get a coffee, sandwich or beer while you wait.
I guess the idea of combining a restaurant of some sort with a bike shop (a bike shop cafe) is a compliment to Steamboat (imitation is the most sincere form of flattery). So while creative bike shop cafe entrepreneurs have been able to imitate a part of our town's ambience, they can't replicate the proximity of our bike shops and cafes to our great mountain and road riding. They can't hop on their newly repaired bikes at the urban or suburban bike shop cafe and roll directly into a great trail or road ride.
For that, they still will have to come here.
Paul Matheny serves on the board of Routt County Riders. He can be reached at email@example.com.