It’s hard to miss one of the latest additions to the local business community: a 16-passenger bicycle available for bar-hopping.
Cycle Tavern of Columbus is powered by pedals located at the feet of the six bar stools lining the left and right sides; three seats in the rear are reserved for non-pedalers. A Cycle Tavern-employed driver steers and brakes from the middle of the vehicle, which travels between five to eight miles per hour.
“My husband and I were in Minneapolis visiting family, and my sister in law was talking about this great bachelorette party she went to,” says Dayna Wymer, co-owner of Cycle Tavern. “She was telling us about this bar/bike contraption and we thought it would be great for Columbus. We flew back up to Minneapolis one month later and met with the U.S. distributors, and found out there are at least 10 other cities that have successfully launched this kind of business.”
Cycle Tavern has been up and running in Columbus since the weekend of July 29 and business is already booming. To learn what steps Wymer and her husband, Dusty, took to launch Cycle Tavern here, the biggest challenge they’ve faced thus far as business owners, and which question they are asked repeatedly, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: Cycle Tavern renters choose three to five destinations for their tour, right? Are there set routes or destinations?
Dayna Wymer: We typically take the same route through the Short North, but we will stop wherever the customer wants to go. The Cycle Tavern does not go up hills very well, so when people want to make a custom route we have to be mindful of where they want to go and if it’s feasible in the allotted time.
Our normal route is starting near 2nd [Avenue] and Summit [Street] and stopping at Bodega, heading south and stopping near Hubbard [Avenue] and La Fogata, continuing into the North Market area and possibly stopping at Bar Louie or Park Street, heading north on High [Street] and stopping near Bernard’s as our last stop.
Our route ends at our garage near Summit and 2nd. The amount of bars we stop at is dependant on how long the customer spends at each location.
[M]: How many tours have you done to date?
DW: To date, we have done about 15 tours, which is great considering we have only been in business for a month. We have booked a lot of tours for upcoming dates. We recommend people book as soon as possible because our weekends are filling up fast!
[M]: What were some of the first steps you took when launching Cycle Tavern?
DW: The first step was to put together a business plan and understand the business model to see if we could make it a profitable and fun venture. Once we got everything laid out on paper, we decided to move forward. The biggest issue with these bikes is finding a storage location. The bike is over nine feet tall, eight feet wide and 20 feet long, so it won’t fit through a conventional garage door. We lucked out with our landlord and were very fortunate to find our current location. That was luck.
After that, we obviously wanted to make sure we could afford it. We got an SBA loan from Chase and they were very helpful in helping us get the business started.
[M]: Did you turn to any local role models or mentors for advice or input?
DW: We are both young and the first of our friends to try to start our own business, so the people we relied on the most were the U.S. distributors of the bike. They have the most experience in this type of industry. We also relied on our personal connections to help us with things like the website, accounting, finance, and public relations.
[M]: What were you doing professionally before launching Cycle Tavern and how has that work experience impacted the way you do business?
DW: I stay home with our 2.5-year-old daughter, Dani, and nine-month-old son, Dylan. I have a degree from Otterbein University in public relations and used to work for Sallie Mae and The state of Ohio.
My husband has been in sales for 10 years and has a marketing degree from Ohio University. He is a medical device representative and manages a large territory that includes Ohio and West Virginia. My husband essentially runs his territory like it’s his own business, so he has a lot of experience with working on his own and selling the concept to potential renters.
It was very helpful with my background in public relations when we first launched the business.
[M]: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as business owners and how did you overcome it?
DW: The biggest challenge has been the trying to explain what we do to people who have never seen the Cycle Tavern. It’s funny because when you describe a 16-passenger, pedal-powered bicycle bar, every person has their own idea in their head of what it looks like it and when they finally see it, it’s nothing like the image they had in their mind.
The other issue we have been facing is determining what the Cycle Tavern is. Is it a bike? Can a bike have four wheels? Is it a livery vehicle? It can’t be a motor vehicle because there is no motor. The bottom line is it is 100 percent unique and there is no precedent for anything like it.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
DW: We get a lot of questions about being able to drink on the bike while in motion. Right now, you cannot drink on the bike, but because of the proximity of the bars in the Short North it’s really not necessary. It would be difficult to get rid of a beer in the short time in between the bars. We have not had one group get off the bike and tell us they did not have a great time, regardless of being able to drink while in motion. It’s something we are looking into, but do not expect to see any changes in the short term.
To learn more about Cycle Tavern of Columbus, visit CycleTavern.com.