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Would you start a bikers cafe?

bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
edited June 2011 in The hub
Hello all, back from a haiatus of no real design.

I've been racking my brains these last few weeks - basically, I just ain't going to stay in my current career for the coming years as I'm just not really that into it. I pull in 21K from teaching, pay increases have been frozen, pensions are being cut, the kids are little sheepstwats, and I'm not paternal enough to really care if they need an extension for their coursework because they forgot to do it. Other teachers will love them and do everything they can for them - I won't. Let em learn life skills through their mistakes.

Anyway, disaffected by career = longing for the grass on the other side;

I've been tempting trying to start a cafe as I love cooking, I love music, I love the outdoors, and I love nights in a bar with a group of mates to have a proper 'set the world to rights' chat. I'm imagining a euro-styled cafe selling really good platters of roasted meats, cheeses and bread baskets and salads with some fancier foods too - mexican meatballs and stuffed chicken. Music befitting the blues-rock genre - lots of proper singer songwriters. Finally, I'd want to tie it in someway to the LBSs and get all the things I enjoy in one place...

So would you do it? I know so many people in the same position as me but wih no idea for something to do...
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  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    They can obviously be profitable, but I think location is paramount. The general theme may put off a general cafe punter.

    I personally wouldn't do it on my own, but would certainly be interested in working in such a place or running the bike parts bit.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Sounds good. Have you thought about setting something like that up in the alps? You could get the skiing/boarding crowd in winter, and the bikers in summer. Might be just up your street.

    Alternatively, thanks to Supersonic, I'm now considering a career as a women's tennis cameraman :lol:
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Yeah, I'd like to collaborate with with a few others who can give some good input. I have a few friends out of work atm who would be keen to take up baking duties, and anther who might run it as a bar in the evening... The trouble with this is it would need to be quite profitable to support us all.

    And yeah - location is the winning factor really. KNow of any trails that aren't well serviced for cake? Stile Cop or Lee Quary for example...
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Know of any trails that aren't well serviced for cake? Stile Cop or Lee Quary for example...
    Would Penmachno and the Marin trail do you?

    Or, you could be a cnut/hero (depending on who's opinion you'd be asking) and re-open the ORIGINAL coed y brenin cafe, on the other side of the road, serving proper food again :lol:
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Wharncliffe has no facilities at all bar a car park. But many like it that way!

    North Sheffield lacks much in the way of bike shops - there is a few at Hillsborough, but Chapeltown, home of that famous rider (me) is gagging for a shop ;-)
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Know of any trails that aren't well serviced for cake? Stile Cop or Lee Quary for example...
    Would Penmachno and the Marin trail do you?

    Or, you could be a cnut/hero (depending on who's opinion you'd be asking) and re-open the ORIGINAL coed y brenin cafe, on the other side of the road, serving proper food again :lol:
    Can I not join you as a female tennis photographer :shock: :?:

    I actually love Penmachno - Marin's not bad. Plus I'd get to play on the Ranger and Moel Elio...
    I need to be careful that I don't limit my potential catchment too much - there ain't much other than sheep around Penmachno is you aren' a biker :?
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    supersonic wrote:
    Wharncliffe has no facilities at all bar a car park. But many like it that way!

    North Sheffield lacks much in the way of bike shops - there is a few at Hillsborough, but Chapeltown, home of that famous rider (me) is gagging for a shop ;-)

    I'd love to get involved with an LBS and tie up two offerings under one roof - make the most out of the rent...
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Have a look at the village of Grenoside or Oughtibridge - these are either side of Wharncliffe.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Cool, god ideas for locations. Anyone had the same dream and done anything with it? I worry that dreams are never as they seen are they. It's a big jump to go from a secure position into uncertainty.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    My sister actually had an idea that was along the same lines, although not directly bike related.
    I think she's hoping to move back this way to mke a start on it.
  • welshkevwelshkev Posts: 9,690
    short answer - yes. me and the girlfriend have been thinking about something along these lines for a while.

    the shop/cafe/cycle hire place was for sale at forset of dean last year but i just didn't have any where near enough back up then...but soon...mwahhhhh :lol:
  • I wouldn't open a bike shop as such... maybe a service center and cycle hire with a really good coffee shop.

    As people have said though, location is paramount!
  • KaiseKaise Posts: 2,498
    I would love to st6art one, and have the bike shop as part of the cafe, in bristol we already have this exact thing though with a place called MudDock. They have a cafe/bar upstairs and the cycleworks downstairs, but i think they have built a reputation on the cafe side and the bike side seperately.

    Its a long way before i do something like this but it is somkething i know would work in the right place. miss k also makes awesome cakes and we all know that cakes is the best food after bacons!
  • millimolemillimole Posts: 53
    From a business perspective you would need to consider whether your Business Plan would (a) pay the rent and (b) provide you with an income. To do otherwise would mean that your cafe has the potential to become both a hobby and a mill-stone round your wallet.
    I am sceptical that a purely cyclists orientated cafe would give you sufficient income on a year-round basis. Therefore you need to develop a Plan that would attract your core customers, but not scare off the rest of the punters.
    That's not to say that I don't think your vision is unrealistic - in fact I think that in the right location, with the right marketing, a 'euro-style' cafe could be real winner. But, it'll be bloomin' hard work, for initially very little gain - either financially or otherwise, but in the medium/long term could be successful on both counts.
    You need to sort out what sort of 'cafe' you want to be - I'd visit as many as you can (that'll be hard graft!!) and work out what was good and bad about each visit - do this analytically and systemattically - to work out what you can do to emulate the excellent, improve on the good, and not repeat the bad.
    Look carefully at locations - what do you need, what can you afford; what's the passing trade (at all times of the day, at all times of the week, and at all times of the year); what's the access and (yes) parking like?
    What 'added value' services can you offer? Do these provide a direct or indirect income stream to the core business (the cafe)? A 'bike shop' would provide direct additional income, and indirect income if punters have a tea and a cake while waiting for a repair. Parking while riders go off on their bikes might be indirect income if you can tempt them into the cafe for a cake after the ride. Other added value services might be ride guides, photos, bike storage - and - accomodation.
    I personally feel that if you were able to offer good value accomodation (comfy bunkhouse-style) that this would be cheap to provide and could be an excellent income stream to supplement the core business.
    Marketed correctly to the right groups (and don't forget the income group of cyclists tends toward the upper quartiles!) you could be in the yellow jersey within 5 years!
    Good Luck!
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Location is key, think about who is likely to visit the cafe on a rainy tuesday when only 4 diehards are out riding. You need to be near a decent population centre or popular "destination" and appeal to as wide a range of people as possible.
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  • RiggaRigga Posts: 939
    Cool, god ideas for locations. Anyone had the same dream and done anything with it? I worry that dreams are never as they seen are they. It's a big jump to go from a secure position into uncertainty.

    I have had a similar experience, i bought a restaurant. The missus had dreamt of running her own for years as she had worked in them all her life and thought she should have a pop at running her own. I guess i had my rose tinted glasses on and like you wanted to try something different. Well it turned out to be the worse decision of my life and the most stressful two years of my life.
    Financially its cost me a small fortune and when the quiet times came guess who had to pay the £800 a month rent? Guess who had to pay for all the food and drink? Guess who had to pay all the bills? Guess who had to pay the staff's wages?
    The missus was working 7 days a week for little or no wage and i never got a wage in two years although i didn't put as many hours in as her. Plus you've got staff problems (not turning in,leaving etc), awkward customers etc etc. I had to sell my car for 12k which all went into the business, now im driving a £500 banger!
    Im currently completing the sale of the business this week so that should be the end of this nightmare 'touch wood'.
    Location is important but if its a good location you will usually pay higher rent so swings and roundabouts really.

    Sorry if ive put you off, just giving you my story and believe me you dont want to go through what ive been through! Good luck anyhow :D
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    I think the most obvious problem is where is it going to be?

    At a trail centre? In which case there's no 'passing trade', just bikers and I supposes some walkers too. Fine on a sunny Saturday afternoon in July, but how busy are you going to be on a Tuesday in January?

    Or is it going to be in a town near a trail centre, in which case you've got competition from other cafes, bikers might choose to go in there (only if they're staying in town?), but it needs to be better or cheaper than the competition for 'normal' people to put up with the smelly, muddy cyclists! (small slice/bigger pie)

    Or do you go for a small town/village that's used as a base by bikers/walkers? Just as an example from somehwere I've been would be Church Stretton, which is the start point for most rides on the Long Mynd. Then you potentially get bikers, walkers and locals, but it's a fairly small place (big slice/small pie)
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Consider doing guided nature walks, photo walks, cross country skiing etc as well from your base - the kinds of things you can do all winter.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    I love the outdoors, and I love nights in a bar with a group of mates to have a proper 'set the world to rights' chat.
    This might be a problem, you won't have much time to do what you want, and if you do have time, you'll probably be well on your way to going bust.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • millimolemillimole Posts: 53
    Despite my encouraging words above I do think that Rigga makes some very good points - I have a close family member who took on the franchise of a village pub, after many years in the hotel & catering trades. This was the ruin of thier family life, and was very nearly their financial ruin - in the end they walked away from their investment. On paper this pub had it all, excellent parking, separate function room, fair reputation, captive locals - but it was a 24/7 life with no privacy, no rest, no time for relaxation.
    With hindsight maybe they could have done some things differently, and maybe they went into it with rose tinted shades - but like your cafe - it was never going to be a (short term) easy ride.
    This is where a realistic Business Plan, and getting all the advice and opinions you can muster, will help you make a decision.
    If you never try, you never succeed!
  • squeelersqueeler Posts: 144
    IMO the catering industry is very hard work with very long hours, if it's not your business is going tits up!

    There is a lot to be said for just being able to walk out of work at 5:30 five days a week and not having to frett about anything, however if something is your calling then you'd be an idiot not to try it. I'd hate to do a job I didn't like but it seems that huge amounts of people do.
  • J LJ L Posts: 425
    kaiser83 wrote:
    I would love to st6art one, and have the bike shop as part of the cafe, in bristol we already have this exact thing though with a place called MudDock. They have a cafe/bar upstairs and the cycleworks downstairs, but i think they have built a reputation on the cafe side and the bike side seperately.

    Its a long way before i do something like this but it is somkething i know would work in the right place. miss k also makes awesome cakes and we all know that cakes is the best food after bacons!

    used to spend sunday eve's in there for the Jazz nights with the mrs.......happy days :D
    I'm not old I'm Retro
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    Return nil but loads of fun, goodwill, physical fitness and hundreds of trees now fruiting.

    I returned to UK to see my father off - spent my last year with him - got a good job and stayed. Wife and kids want to come back to the UK for school

    I want to go back to Gambia and carry on which I may well do next year!
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Ah interesting input guys. Sorry for the delayed response - somtimes BR just stops informing me of thread updates.

    On the discussion so far, I fall on the idea that if I was to set up based around a trail head I'd be limiting my potential audience; especially as biking can be a bit seasonal. I'd need something like a Staines on my doorstep to make money solely out of bikers.
    The approach that I have in mind is to stay local to where I am now - Newark (shitsville for bikers) and provide monthly minibus runs to the peaks and further for customers. The idea is they come to the cafe to see what is planned and sign up paying deposit for fuel. The business model would be based around selling pastires (from wholesale) and coffee to the masses in the morning and home roasted meats with glasses of light homebrew beers over lunches. I've got some of the recipes I'd serve nailed, and I'm developing some quick and simple homebrews. In fact just popped the first bottle of the second batch of ginger and lemon beer (shite at the moment :lol: ).
    I've chosen to forgo work this summer and take the pastries and homecooked stuffs to our market to see how it fairs without the grey cloud of service charges over me. Possibly have a business plan written up by August.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    squeeler wrote:
    IMO the catering industry is very hard work with very long hours, if it's not your business is going tits up!

    Yup, there's a hell of a lot resting on it. But I look around and I see some astonishingly uninventive, cliched approaches to cafes and they florish! I'm gobsmacked at some of the cafes on the highstreet. Plus I'd like to go into it with a business parner - a friend in the same position as me; he would be charged with running it as a bar in the evening so we can maximise the income from the one unit.
    Our big thing is - what makes a cafe/bar a place where outdoorsies go? Pictures of Paul Lasenby?
  • ste_tste_t Posts: 1,599
    Our big thing is - what makes a cafe/bar a place where outdoorsies go?

    You must create a 'brand.' You can't rely on selling the best pastries in town, or the best coffee etc, you need something that people can feel a part of. That means the whole community, not just the people who share your interests, as the more people you have in spending money then the more of a life you get to have for yourselves.

    Just never lose sight of the fact that quality of both product and service is paramount. People demand value for money, but this doesn't necessarily mean price is the deciding factor. Personality sells.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Well, the brand would be based around good locally sourced food, and trips out. I wouldn't compete with the large number of places offering live music. My plan is to have clubs running from the cafe/bar aiming to help people get into the outdoors - bikers clubs and walkers clubs. Potentially, I'd have a minibus and arrange days out so I can tie in all the things I love.
  • dollydolly Posts: 1
    This place is for sale halfway round the beast in the coed y brenin www.dolfrwynog.com
    find it on www.smallholding -wales.co.uk :D
  • foxc_ukfoxc_uk Posts: 1,292
    bluechair84 I'm in the process of trying to formulate a Plan A career, having spent 13 years on my Plan B Adminmeh job.

    Musing over a mojito or 3 with a friend the other night we came up with a cafe (wifi, cakes, sandwiches etc) with a snowboard and bike shop out back, with potential for organising trips out etc and coaching in triathlons and potentially other stuff.

    I say do a big ol' business plan and see if it's viable. If it's viable give it a shot! There was a hashtag doing the rounds on twitter not so long ago called #F---PlanB, there was some really inspirational stuff that made me realise that there is definitely more to the work life than this.
  • ThewaylanderThewaylander Posts: 8,767
    It is all about a good business plan and undertading the costs, Fins as much as you can about what you need to run a business like this legally.. IE like food hygene standards certificates and so on.

    But starting to think something like this is the way to go when you have a little money behind you :)
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