Cycle Tavern Supports the Creation of Entertainment Districts
The the two years they’ve been in business, Cycle Tavern has turned plenty of heads with its unique bicycle-built-for-sixteen vehicle. Touring guests are treated to an open-air adventure where they pedal from bar to bar throughout Downtown and The Short North and enjoy drinks while letting someone else do the actual driving.
So what could be better than a bar-hopping bike tour? According to Cycle Tavern owner Dusty Wymer, the allowance of onboard drinking would answer the number one question he gets asked about how his business works. Currently, Ohio open container laws prohibit passengers from imbibing en route, but legislation proposed earlier this year could potentially change that.
We spoke more with Dusty about Cycle Tavern recently to find out more about the business, the tours, and the potential for cycling inside an “Entertainment District”. Our full Q&A can be found below:
Q: So, how has your business been doing since you first launched in 2011?
A: Business has been very good! Our first tour was in August 2011 and since that time we have been very happy with the feedback we have received from the groups that have booked us for tours as well as the response from local businesses and passersby. I am born and raised in Columbus and one of the reasons I decided to start this business here was because I have always felt like this city supports its local businesses very well.
That being said, I still think there is a lot of room to grow. I still talk to people all the time that say “I wish I would have known about you guys because this would have been much more fun than what we did” for their special occasion. On the flip side, it’s very rewarding to hear from people who are taking their third, fourth or even fifth tour and still have a great time.
Q: What sort of trends or changes have you noticed in the local bar/beer community as it relates to your business and your customers?
A: The areas we are touring (the Short North and Arena District) are constantly changing. It seems like every month there is a new place that riders request we stop at. We have a suggested route for our tours but the riders determine where we go. We’re fortunate because our garage location allows us to stop at some of the bars that are off High Street, like Seventh Son Brewery and Brothers Drake, and still have enough time to visit the bars along High Street in a two-hour tour.
I think the areas like Fourth Street in Italian Village are going to continue to grow over the next year. The whole Short North area is expanding, which is great for our business because it gives riders so many more options to visit different bars. I welcome the change.
Q: In April, new legislation was introduced that might allow for the designation of up to three open-container “Entertainment Districts” in Columbus. If this allows for on-board drinking for your vehicle, what sort of impact would it have on your business?
A: I think it would not only have a positive impact on our business but also a positive impact on the entire “Entertainment District” including all the bars, restaurants, hotels and essentially any other business in the area. I think that piece of legislation would drive more people to those areas and increase both the resident and the tourism dollars spent. Think about how fun Gallery Hop would be if you could walk around with a glass of wine or a beer!
As it relates specifically to our business, the most frequent question we receive is “Can you drink on the bike?” Unfortunately, we are not permitted to allow customers to bring alcohol aboard the bike and drink while pedaling from bar to bar. They can drink all they wish at the stops, but not outside the bars. The rental rate of the bike includes a sober driver employed by us who is in complete control of the bike at all times. If he steps on the brake it disengages the pedals and no riders ever have the ability to steer.
That being said, I would think that the legislation would include on-board drinking while pedaling because it’s been shown to be safe in other cities. We are part of a larger group of party bike owners and I know that in certain parts of other states such as Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Florida and Washington, they are allowed to drink while pedaling. Even if you could drink onboard for only certain parts of the tour as defined as the Entertainment District, I believe it would still be a positive aspect for our business.
Q: Do you feel that the ongoing upgrades to bike infrastructure in Columbus has helped your business by familiarizing customers with on-street bike riding?
A: Absolutely. We are obviously an off-the-wall type of bike, but we have seen people who have recently gotten involved in cycling and think the Cycle Tavern concept is a really fun time. I am a fitness, biking, and outdoor enthusiast, but I also like to have a good time and frequent the bars. The Cycle Tavern combines having fun, a little exercise, and being outside. To me, and many of our customers, it’s a perfect combination.
I also think the bike share program is another awesome idea that will help familiarize people with on-street bike riding, and I personally am looking forward to that program.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Just wanted to add that we feel like our business is an economic stimulus to the area. We have a lot of customers that live in the suburbs and come Downtown to ride the Cycle Tavern. Many of them start or end their evening on the bike and frequent restaurants, bars, and sporting events while in the area. Those dollars they are spending Downtown on the Cycle Tavern and surrounding businesses could easily be spent at Easton, Polaris, or other parts of Columbus. If the Entertainment District legislation passes I would predict we would have more bookings of this nature, and a win for all the businesses in and around Downtown.
More information can be found online at www.cycletavern.com.
Photos by Logan Miller of www.LCMphoto.org.