When Peter Roper was a program manager in the environmental center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he spent a lot time working on bikes. "He developed a lot of amazing programs up there related to bicycles," explains Jessica Caouette, his business partner and lifelong friend. "He created the bike stations so students could get their bikes fixed on campus." He also did refurbishing, reselling and rental services for students.
When Roper decided he wanted to bring those things from the college campus down to Denver, he looked to spots he'd seen in Portland and San Francisco that combined bike repairs with cafe culture. And that's when he brought in Caouette, who had spent a decade tending and managing bars all over town. "He had some great ideas about how to bring in coffee and beer," she says. "I'd been working in bars in Denver for ten years, so he called me up and said, 'You've got the hospitality side of things, let's do this.'"
The pair -- joined by third partner and CFO Lucas Spaulding -- went to work on Denver Bicycle Cafe in City Park West, remodeling a long-vacant space on 17th Avenue because they noticed bike-repair options in the neighborhood were sparse.
What they created definitely focuses on cycling. "We want bicycle service and the bicycle side of things to shine," says Caouette. "The space is open and inviting, and the place to work on bicycles is up front and right in your face."
But they haven't forsaken the cafe side of the plan, either. The partners brought in local microbrews as well as locally roasted coffee, and they'll be highlighting those, giving bikers and non-bikers alike a place to kick back with a beverage. Those drinks pair to foods imported from neighbors -- pastries from Watercourse and tamales from La Casita in Highland, for example.
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In doing so, Caouette says she and her partners hope to create a community. "We really want to offer a space for people to get their bike serviced and learn about bike service, to drink really good beer and learn about really good beer." With that in mind, they'll look to add clinics and workshops on bike repair down the road -- and work with brewers on education, too.
Denver Bicycle Cafe opens tomorrow and will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 6 a.m.to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.