It’s not every day you walk into a bike shop and get offered gourmet ice cream, but then again, Spokeasy Bike Café owner Thomas Duggan is not your average businessman. While Spokeasy is predominantly a bike shop, Duggan is dreaming big as he adds the final touches to the Italian market that will be housed inside the shop.
“I’ve always wanted to do a bike cafe,” Duggan said. “Usually they are about road bikes, but I like to have a little vintage collection, and a little bit of everything, and I think that’s where I’m a little different.”
Located at 132 Midland Avenue in Basalt, Spokeasy draws customers into the eclectic shop with its wide variety of high-quality bikes. From refurbished, vintage Schwinns to brand new SE Lil’ Flyer and BMX bikes, kids and adults of all ages can walk in, enjoy a scoop of Anne and Mann’s Homemade Ice Cream and cruise around on their future wheels.
“I just wanted this place to be all the cool s**t that I like,” Duggan laughed. “I look around and I’m like, ‘okay, old Schwinn frames, old BMX bikes, banana seat bikes, old ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s Schwinn frames that I built into BMX bikes. It’s awesome.’”
Duggan said that he has something for everyone in his shop, and emphasized that BMX bikes are not just for the kids anymore.
“The whole family can ride a BMX. It’s not happening here yet, but you look anywhere in the states and in big cities, there are big crews of people riding around doing wheelies, having fun, doing ride-outs with hundreds of people,” Duggan said. “And it all goes with my style.”
Alongside rare vintage finds, Spokeasy also carries an impressive collection of regionally-sourced bikes, including Banshee Bikes, Canfield Bikes from Fruita and SE Bikes, which Spokeasy happens to sell the largest collection of in the area.
For Duggan, riding bikes is about having fun and enjoying time with the people he loves. Originally from Venice Beach, California, he grew up modifying his bikes so that he could ride wheelies down the beach and try to stay out of trouble. He quickly developed a deep passion for tinkering on beautiful bikes, which ultimately inspired him to open Venice Cruisers in 2009.
The shop, similar to Spokeasy, sold vintage bikes with a BMX twist. For four years, Duggan sold bikes out of the shop that doubled as his apartment, but soon after the birth of his son, he decided to close it down and move closer to family in Colorado.
In the Rockies, Duggan found his way back to his roots, literally. His father owns a generous piece of property in Rifle where Duggan was able to dig into the earth, grow an incredible array of vegetables and start daydreaming.
“I have been growing stuff at my dad’s in Rifle for years,” Duggan said. “I have heirloom tomatoes that are amazing. The [growing] zone at my dad’s, you know, you can really grow a lot. … I’ve learned every lesson, but I’m a city boy, and I learned how to raise chickens the hard way.”
While digging in the dirt, memories of Duggan’s second home in Italy sprouted and he realized he could sell his produce at Spokeasy to replicate the Italian and French markets that he fondly remembers from his childhood.
Raised by his Italian mother, Duggan learned the value of good food and company. He spent every summer in Umbria, known in Italy as the “Green Heart.” As an adult, he frequents his hometown, soaking up Italian culture with friends as they ride through the countryside and stop at every cafe along the way.
“I love going there,” Duggan said. “We’d jump on the train and go from Rome to Amsterdam with all our friends, and we’d drag our bikes everywhere.”
Now, with memories forging the path forward, Duggan said he is excited about the cafe’s final touches and plans to have its soft opening this winter. The cafe will mostly include to-go items like frozen lasagnas, paninis, personal pizzas, sandwiches, soups and cold-pressed juices. Eventually, he’ll offer his homegrown vegetables and eggs from his well-loved chickens. And, of course, he’ll keep selling those incredible bikes.
“I’m feeling a lot of support from the community,” Duggan said. “I love people and I know food. I’m Italian!”
Follow @spokeasybikecafe on Instagram to learn more about rentals, bike services and when you can grab a bite of that Italian cuisine.