Published: Aug 18, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Aug 15, 2012 06:46 PM
Seth Gross co-opened the Wine Authority store in 2007. In 2011, he opened Bull City Burger and Brewery. Now he has another flavorful business in mind.
A pub bike.
That is, a bar on wheels, which a dozen or so patrons pedal around town while enjoying a favorite beverage – steered by a non-drinking “bike captain.”
“I want to bring something new, exciting, pioneering and fun to Durham,” Gross said.
He brought the idea to the City Council recently, because there’s one little hitch before Gross can open for business: He needs an amendment to the city’s open-container ordinance.
“Right now, if you were on a bike with a beer you’d be cited,” Gross said: even a multi-seat bike with someone else at the handlebars.
“I think it’s another great amenity for Durham,” Councilman Mike Woodard said.
“I do think it would be a contribution to the community,” Councilwoman Diane Catotti said.
“They’re a blast,” Gross said.
So encouraged, City Attorney Patrick Baker said he would have an amendment drafted for council consideration, probably in September.
The pub bike, variously called “bicycle pub,” “cycle pub,” “tour de tavern” and so on, was introduced in Europe. It is spreading through the United States – with various adjustments to various open-container laws – from an epicenter in Bend, Ore., where Gross plans to have his pub bike built, if City Hall goes along.
“The investment in a bike like this is about $40,000,” he said. “So it’s not something I take lightly.”
Pub bikes are about 20 feet long, with 10 or 12 pedal-equipped barstools on either side and one seat up front for a company employee who steers. Customers bring their own libations to enjoy as they bike here and there – from bar to bar, say, or bar to restaurant to Bulls game, or just seeing the sights.
“Think of this as like a green limousine,” Gross said. “Green technology. It’s environmentally friendly. It’s sustainable and fun.”
The Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Durham Inc. might use it to show Durham off to visiting investors; it could be an attraction at the Bimbé Festival and Third Friday Durham art walk; it could be the site of a traveling birthday party. Gross is full of ideas and enthusiasms.
“I want to ... see it as a mascot, sort of, for the community,” he said.
Riders book the bike ahead of time, routes are pre-planned, and there’s no picking up and dropping off – “This is not a taxi,” he said. A two-hour ride would cost about $300, or about $12 per hour per rider.
“This isn’t the sort of thing (for people who) are looking to get schnockered and go out on the road,” Gross said.
Gross plans to call his new venture The Biker Bar.