Cafés Cash in on Cycling Trend

Mussette Caffee | BCBusiness
The cash counter at Mussette Caffe in Vancouver.

Savvy entrepreneurs are hoping that new bike-centric hangouts will entice the growing number of urban cyclists to hop off the saddle—at least for long enough to grab a coffee

The wheels continue to turn in the quest to make B.C.’s cities bike friendly, with cycling-centric cafés the latest to join the movement.

Hot on the heels of the announcement by the City of Vancouver that it had approved $3-million for new bike lanes, Victoria’s first cycle-specific restaurant, The Hub and Spoke, is set to open June 29—just in time for the Tour de France biking race, which the café will be airing in its entirety.

The Hub and Spoke owner Jeff George says the business is a way to connect all of his passions: bikes, beer, coffee and community. “These things seem to be of interest to a growing number of people, so bringing them together makes sense for a business,” says George. “More people are biking and whether that means being competitive or whether that means commuting to work, biking is absolutely becoming more popular.”

Thomas Eleizegui owns Vancouver’s Musette Caffe, a bike-friendly coffee bar located just off of the Hornby Street bike lane. There, cyclists mingle over coffee, energy bars and other baked treats assured that when they leave, their bikes will be where they left them (the café provides racks and locks). The walls of Musette, which also sells bike accessories and other items cyclists may need, are adorned with bike memorabilia that Eleizegui has collected over the years and equipped with two TV screens. Although, Eleizegui says, you won’t catch the Canucks here but, rather, bike racing. “I try to make it like my home,” says Eleizegui. “You step in and it’s like stepping in to my man-cave.”

Eleizegui says the city needs to make better use of the new bike lanes that are being built, by finding more ways to offer cyclists a place to go where they can safely store their bikes, and maybe even shower or change after a long commute. He says that while cyclists of all kinds can be found in his café, a lot of them are commuters. “The sport is building quite a bit, but with commuting I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” says Eleizegui.