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Bike shop and café steams ahead

Published January 27, 2012

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN) Jan 27, 14:03 MT — Emphasizing locally made transportation bikes, cycling accessories and food, combination bike shop/café Heritage Bicycles General Store will hold its grand opening Saturday, Jan. 28.

Owner Michael Salvatore hopes the marriage of the café and biking cultures will attract not only java-loving cyclists, but also customers who otherwise might not be inclined to visit a bike shop.

“The bikes-and-coffee thing is just such a natural. People are so passionate about both things,” he said. “I thought it’d be a perfect way to get novice cyclists in the door and get a warm situation where they could feel comfortable. A lot of the time I feel people may be reluctant to go into a bike shop because it can be so in-your-face. It’s not all about selling you a bike. It’s not about performance bicycles. We’re just trying to make an open environment. You can come in, hang out, meet us and get to know what we’re about pretty quickly.”

For its Chicago-made house bike brand bike, the General Store is starting with the Heritage Bicycles Daisy, a mixte model that comes in 1-, 3- and 7-speed options and a variety of color schemes. Additional Heritage models are on the drawing board, Salvatore noted, including a diamond-frame city bike, a cargo bike and trike.

“This summer we want to have at least three or four. Everything is kind of vintage-inspired—more lifestyle cruisers and everyday commuter bikes,” he said.

The General Store also carries Dutch-inspired bikes from Bowery Lane Bikes, Salvatore’s first bike company, out of New York.

Chicago-made products include cycling pants from Nonetheless; KoziePrery cycling hats fabricated from recycled material; and graphic T-shirts by Fourth Is King. Accessories from commuter faves Brooks England and high-style Danish helmet maker Yakkay are also available.

On the café side, the menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, scones, muffins and biscotti is provided by local caterer Southport Grocery & Café, while Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters will keep customers sufficiently caffeinated. Stumptown recently paid to fly out employees from its New York roaster to train Heritage Bicycles’ entire staff, Salvatore noted.

Reflecting Heritage Bicycles’ ethos of inclusiveness, shop rides will address all skill levels. “We’re doing everything from expert rides to novice rides, getting people who are not comfortable riding in the city and teaching them how safe it is to ride here, helmet safety, how to lock your bike—things that most cyclists take for granted,” Salvatore said. “We just want to get them out there and hopefully they start riding more.”

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