Last weekend, I thought I’ll bike a pleasant flat bike route from home and check out a popular local eatery before a large bike store opened near by. After all, I vaguely wondered if proximity to the bike store, had inspired the restaurant owner to call his café, Cadence Café.
Cadence Café, Calgary- Shedding Cycling Images for More Customers
My partner reminded me there were other dictionary definitions of cadence –a musical pitch, etc. In the bicycling world, cadence refers to a cyclist’s consistent pedal-spinning speed: the
number of revolutions per minute. The real test of cadence is sustaining an even, fast cadence when spinning up steep or long hills and mountain sides.
It was easy to see why this cafe was a popular place, even on an early Sunday spring morning. It was retrofitted cleanly and smartly in warm, retro 1950’s diner colours of black-white tiled floors and red cushioned seating and accents. The menu was also diverse enough with some reliable muffin flavours as well as some ever-changing breakfast and sandwich selections.
Paintings (or prints) hung around the humming café with two large print murals at each end. One of them was a fun, casual animated scene of cars and comical drivers. A rather jarring contrast to the café’s namesake. As I seated myself, I spotted to the far left, and nearly hidden beside a Canada Dry pop cooler, an old rusted bike handlebar set on top of its stem and wheel fork.
There were other clues of past attempts to decorate the premises with cycling memorbilia. In the women’s washroom, on the wall, there was a 15-20 year old print of a cycling peleton with (male) cyclists a la Tour de France style. Honest, they should have thrown the print away.
Although the café drew cyclists, there were also convivial crowds of families, children and retirees lining up for their food and kibbutzing around the tables. Cadence Café found the right formula by disregarding its homage to cycling, by appealing to people from all walks of life.
Musette Café, Vancouver BC- Decorated with Cycling Passion
In contrast, the recently opened Musette Café in downtown Vancouver, trumpets its cycling
affection to the world. Its name is derived from “musette”, a sac of portable food to refuel competing cyclists in a long race.
Musette Café became a local news media darling when it first opened by an alley near Burrard St., not far from the Burrard Bridge. The cycling community welcomed a local business that overtly courted cyclists.
In contrast, there were prolonged public protests in Vancouver and debate between cycling community and other downtown businesses and retailers located along the recently installed separated bike lanes on Burrard Bridge, Dunsmuir and Hornby Streets. The protesting and debates peppered the news for months. Several businesses claimed they would lose customers because valuable side parking spots would be lost. Months later, after all the sturm and drang, the local Board of Trade has quietly offered that they would help find more appropriate businesses near the separated bike lanes.
I decided to check out Musette Café for myself. Indeed, the café’s brainchild must be a compeitive road cycling aficionado. The small café is adorned with enough cycling memorabilia and knick-knacks. It is a wonderful place just to see a personal collection of memorabilia. Clearly any experienced cyclist who loved bicycles could relate to some of the cycling collectibles.
However, most of the adornment pointed to the cycling racing world, not to the general bicycling folks who may cycle in walking shorts, a skirt or sneakers.
When I dropped by, there were cyclists relaxing with their coffee and muffins in their cycling gear. Outside there were a few expensive bikes, meaning brand models.
I am not certain if this café is drawing regular streams of customers, or if most of their customers are cyclists. Let’s hope that cyclists with their fixie bikes, swirly skirts and bike baskets are also dropping by often enough.
Theme Eateries Might Have to Offer More than Just Cycling Passion
But more to the point, do non-cyclists come back to this café with its overt cycling theme in its decor?
Perhaps, look at it this way: there a few bars in downtown Toronto and elsewhere that have a strong hockey theme. Hockey is a Canadian obsession but it’s not the only sport that consumes some folks. Would I go to a hockey pub and enjoy it? Well, other than the fact I don’t drink beer (but I drink wine), I would drop by, at least for curiosity and with some friends.
But would I as a non-hockey player and non-hockey spectator go to the same pub again and again? (As a teenager, I used to watch the games on Hockey Night in Canada regularily.) Not unless there was another
reason –a suggestion by another friend or the pub offered some unique or fantastic pub food dishes. Normally, I’d rather sit in a restaurant for a lovely meal and nurse my own glass of wine without an overhead television blaring away.
Cycling enthusiasts can know of different cycling subcultures that can exist –skinny tire roadies, fixie bike hipsters, bike commuters, recumbent cyclists and the whole mishmash of all cyclists at major public cycling events. However just because a person is a bicyclist, it doesn’t mean they feel instant camaderie with competitive cyclists or other cycling folk from other cycling subcultures.
Cycling enthusiasts might consider particular bikes as a work of art. But honest, bikes without any other adornment, are utilitarian to many non-cyclists. It’s a vehicle that becomes animated with a cyclist and bike accessory bling.
So Musette Café might be a rare visit for even a regular cyclist who shuns the image of cycling jersey, helmet, cycling shoes and clipless pedals. But I hope not, or at least may be Musette might transform itself for everyone, despite its cycling personae.