Not signed in (Sign In)
    • CommentAuthortegnamo
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2015 edited
     
    My wife and I are considering a bicycle-oriented coffee shop. Something that would be relatively small, and offer a simple selection of coffee drinks and small snacks, while also being quite inviting to all types of cyclists. The business wouldn't necessarily need to bring in huge dollars, as my wife's acupunture/yoga/massage business would be in the same building (but separated) and likely be our main income source. I could always hang on to my engineering job for a bit longer, if needed.

    We have our sights set on a particular property in La Mesa, which is set on a major thoroughfare. Strava Heatmaps confirms that, at the very least, lots of cyclists who use Strava tend to pass by. There is only one other coffee shop nearby, and it's more of a study-hall for students, bloggers, or whatever. So perhaps this kind of bicycle-tuned coffee shop might see plentiful business, at least on weekends.

    I suppose my reason for inquiring with the great minds of SD Bike Commuter is to see what types of amenities might draw you to our little shop, versus any other place. Let's assume that the espresso we crank out is pretty damn good (but not quite Zumbar levels of excellence...let's be real, here). If we could become a weekend destination, that would be great, but ideally we're a daily stop for people on their way to work as well.

    In my mind, I would like to see a place that offers safe and efficient bike parking (how about a triathlon-style transition rack, wherein you hang the bike by the seat?), with good visibility no matter where you're standing. Maybe sell some spares like CO2 cartridges, tubes, tire spoons, etc. A fix-it station and bike stand, perhaps? You could roll up, grab an espresso, dink with your bike a bit, and then head out for the day's ride. Would anyone prefer an actual mechanic on staff? At the very least, I'd like to hire a barista who knows how to work on a bicycle!

    What else might be appropriate or enticing? Granted, we aren't prepared to take out a big loan or set up like a full retail shop. That's just not in the cards, especially given the size of the space. Imagine a big one-car garage with a long driveway in front. So, maybe some outside seating and shade, too?

    As far as food goes, I'd probably take some inspiration from the Feed Zone and their portable recipes. I'd love to offer discounts to cyclists, but that can be a slippery slope I think. At the very least, if you bring your own drink container we might drop the price a wee bit.

    Anyway, if ya'll have some input, that would be really helpful! I'm hoping to get this east-county gem off the ground some time next year.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2015
     
    All that sounds good.

    Most important for me when I ride - seeing as I don't carry a lock unless I have to - is that there is outdoor seating (sidewalk or patio), with nearby "lean-to's" for my bike so that I can keep my bike near and in sight while enjoying my caffeine and carb fuel. Ideally also, the counter would be located so that I could keep an eye on bike while in line and ordering.

    The open front design of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, private back patio design of DeMi Cafe, or outdoor seating with lean-to such as at Grant's Marketplace is inviting and ideal for attracting cyclists, IMO. In short - if a location doesn't offer me a chance to order and consume within near sight of my bike, I usually won't stop there.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbilld
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015
     
    Agree. An outdoor area where people can lean their bikes while sipping their coffee is a big plus for riders. Some places even have indoor bike racks or hooks on the wall for people to put their bikes. Basically, reasonably secure bike parking is good.

    A fix-it station is not a bad idea. I've seen a few of these with tools cabled to the stand with the cables long enough to use on your bike. An air compressor with presta and schrader heads is nice too but even a decent floor pump is good.

    Basic supplies like tubes and patch kits for sale at a reasonable price is good too. You don't need to have a full bike shop but just enough to help people who are otherwise stranded is nice.

    Being part of this might be good:

    http://sdbikecommuter.com/find_businesses/

    Cyclists tend to like coffee and carbs. You're on the right track.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015
     
    If possible, you may want to consider bike parking IN the facility. There's a juice bar in Santa Cruz that does that.

    I agree with the above. Obvious consumables like tubes, tires.

    I'll add one more idea. Healthy snacks. Trail mixes, veggie stuff etc.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015 edited
     
    bikingbill:If possible, you may want to consider bike parking IN the facility. There's a juice bar in Santa Cruz that does that
    Samba Rock Acai Cafe - so awesome.
    • CommentAuthortegnamo
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015 edited
     
    Thanks for the great responses so far!

    Yes, I too understand wanting to keep one's bicycle in sight. I would hope to have a fenced in area that discourages passersby from meddling, and which also provides dense bicycle parking. As I said, I think something like this might work out: http://www.altilityartstudio.com/fabrication/commercial/portland-triathlon-bike-racks/

    Is there any hesitation against hanging one's bike like this, off the saddle? I think modern saddles are pretty sturdy these days, but I don't rock a saddle with carbon rails. I should say that leaning bikes up against walls, etc seems to block in the inner-most bikes, and sometimes they can suddenly topple over, get tangled, and so forth.

    The indoor parking might be tricky. It's really just going to be a one-car garage as far as I can tell. So we'll have to save that space for some seating and the coffee making. There is a good chance of having a back patio however. Ideally with umbrellas at the least, and a more permanent lean-to style roof at most. We could punch a door through the back of the garage if there's not already one, so you can walk straight through to the back. If you want your bike back there as well, I think wheeling around the side of the building to the back patio might suffice. More bike racks back there, as well.

    Yes, healthy, smaller snacks would be ideal. We aren't going to do full plates of things. I don't even want to get involved with big sandwiches, either. But there could be small, wrapped snacks like PBJ+banana in a small tortilla, tiny egg muffins, some bars, etc. Really, just ensuring that it's conducive carrying on a bicycle or even taking on the go if you're stopping by in a car. Again, we don't want to be a "breakfast cafe" or anything. Mainly coming for the coffee, a quick snack, and then heading out. We likely can't support involved kitchen operations. I mean, if you want to hang out, go for it! But it's not gonna be like Lestat's, haha!

    One additional question: What exactly is La Mesa's cycling community like? Does anyone in here live out there, or ride out towards that area? Are Mt. Helix, Lake Murray, and Mission Trails the most popular cycling areas around there? I've mountain biked down in Sweetwater, so I know that's kind of cool. But I don't have the most experience road biking out that way.
    • CommentAuthorJSnook
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015
     
    I would guess some percentage of cyclists pass through La Mesa on their way to/from rides in east county. does the Strava heat map give you time of day resolution?
    •  
      CommentAuthormarkphilips
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015 edited
     
    In north county I enjoy stopping by the Global Grind at the Encinitas Library. They have a small cart that fits in a small storage area behind the cart when they're open. They serve hot and cold (simple and fancy) beverages, small snacks like pastries, bananas, cliff bars. There are concrete benches to sit on, folks lean their bikes against a wall but most lock up there bikes on the bike rack far from the door. There is also an outdoor coffee cart at the RIDE Cyclery out on the patio overlooking PCH (too noisy for me though).

    To have some small stock of parts like inner tubes, brake pads, etc and a repair stand would great to have. Of course, you will need to cater to customers on foot and or stroller. Is the space near main street or at least other local businesses?

    • CommentAuthortegnamo
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2015 edited
     
    JSnook:I would guess some percentage of cyclists pass through La Mesa on their way to/from rides in east county. does the Strava heat map give you time of day resolution?

    I think you can pay for that sort of data. I'll look into it. The free map just shows general intensity of cycling, otherwise.

    markphilips:In north county I enjoy stopping by the Global Grind at the Encinitas Library. They have a small cart that fits in a small storage area behind the cart when they're open. They serve hot and cold (simple and fancy) beverages, small snacks like pastries, bananas, cliff bars. There are concrete benches to sit on, folks lean their bikes against a wall but most lock up there bikes on the bike rack far from the door. There is also an outdoor coffee cart at the RIDE Cyclery out on the patio overlooking PCH (too noisy for me though).

    To have some small stock of parts like inner tubes, brake pads, etc and a repair stand would great to have. Of course, you will need to cater to customers on foot and or stroller. Is the space near main street or at least other local businesses?


    Sounds nifty! Yes, we'd like to offer that sort of experience with more emphasis on convenient bike parking. We do also want customers on foot to have an easy time accessing our business. I would say it's on a relatively convenient thoroughfare in that respect, with some other businesses nearby (including a more typical coffee lounge for the studious bunch). So I think foot traffic will be feasible. But the building itself doesn't exactly scream "I am a business, come visit!". We'll have to work on signage or other standout accouterments.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2015 edited
     
    You might want to distinguish whether your target is commuters/enthusiasts or road cyclists. I ride thousands of miles a year in East County. IMO, La Mesa is not an actual destination for cyclists, but it could be, I suppose. We do pass through on the way to the Great Western Loop, especially on the Wednesday Town and Country ride and the Sunday GWL training and there aren't a lot of destinations for coffee, now that Cosmos, which was started by a cyclist and hosted a club, has closed. Mt. Helix is popular for evening training rides, etc... but not a real destination per se. There is another Wednesday ride called Cafe Pickup Loop that used to start at Cosmos and has now moved on since it closed - there is a Facebook group you can ask for opinions. Also, our compadre Smorg does a ride with Performance La Mesa - you can hit her up.

    I think your idea of using the Strava heat maps to track down commuter routes is a great idea. If you can do okay during the week, the weekenders headed east for Great Western and beyond can make it a stop. On the way to a ride, bananas and bagels are what I want. A good bagel after is good too.
    • CommentAuthortegnamo
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2015
     
    Well, the coffee shop is gonna get put on hiatus. I got a job with a bike company out near Madison, Wisconsin (wink, wink). But thanks everyone for your input! At the very least it'll still be useful advice if we attempt it in Madison. My wife did visit with the La Mesa city hall and the sheer number of permits and up front costs and interesting zoning for a residential/commercial location made it almost not worthwhile unfortunately. Someday I hope to set something like this up of course...
  1.  
    Coffee Cycle is now operational. Congrats to Hippyonabike