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Cheers! The Meteor takes coffee and cycling one step farther

Published June 5, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BRAIN) — Coffee and cycling go together as famously as peas and carrots. Doug Zell and Chris St. Peter decided to take it one fancy step farther.

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"Espresso, Champagne, Chain Lube" is The Meteor’s slogan, and it has struck a chord in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"You know, all of life’s essentials in one place!" St. Peter said.

The business was onceptualized in 2016 by Zell — the founder of Intelligentsia Coffee and an investor in HIA Velo, the parent of Allied Cycle Works — and St. Peter, a lawyer. The former racing teammates wanted a business combining great coffee and bikes. And they wanted it “in an environment that we’d want to hang out at every day, and that could also serve as the front porch of the cycling and active lifestyle community,” St. Peter said.

With breakfast, lunch and “all-day” menus and also serving beer, wine and of course Intelligentsia Coffee, The Meteor toes the line between business lunch spot and full-service bike retailer. Carrying Cannondale, Orbea, Felt, Electra and custom options from Allied Cycle Works, it welcomes the cyclist and non-cyclist.

"We realize that if you’re not careful, cycling and coffee are two cultures that can come off as exclusive and snotty," St. Peter said. "So we very intentionally trend the other way to make sure everyone feels welcome."

Zell’s Intelligentsia Coffee has been a successful venture with 17 locations after starting in 1995, and while St. Peter wouldn’t divulge financials, he said success comes down to sweating the details.

"You can’t have 17 locations without nailing the details on every level," he said.

The Meteor is expanding this year with two more locations: Austin, Texas, in August and Bentonville, Arkansas, soon afterward.

The Little Rock location, with 20 employees across the bike shop and cafe, opened two years ago in an 1897 refurbished building. "Open, bright, airy and fun," St. Peter said.

The Bentonville location will share space with Allied’s corporate headquarters and offer a full cafe transitioning into a bike service and sales area and also opening into Allied’s showroom floor, St. Peter said.

"We have some great momentum at our Little Rock location, and we’re extremely grateful to our loyal customers who’ve made that happen," he said.

In the same way Intelligentsia changed coffee, Zell and St. Peter hope The Meteor changes the bike retailer business.

“The Meteor is just getting started, but we hope it has a similar long-term impact,” he said.

Co-sponsors of the Meteor X Giordana team, Zell and St. Peter had another reason to toast their "Espresso, Champagne and Chain Lube" lifestyle when one of their riders, Colin Strickland, won the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel race Saturday.

"What a ride! The publicity and marketing benefit is huge," said St. Peter, who added The Meteor sponsors local clubs, teams, races and an elite women’s gravel team, The Meteor // Intelligentsia.

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