The cycling cafe concept is growing worldwide, something that Chicago has been slow to jump on. From London to San Francisco, Brooklyn to Minneapolis, they're starting to pop up all over the place. As of now there is one in town, Heritage in Lakeview, but that's going to change. Tentatively named Roll, from two-time ancien (someone who's finished the historic Paris-across-Paris) Scott McIntosh, it will feature a cafe with liquor and attached bike shop.
McIntosh doesn't want to reveal the location yet—he's waiting on deals and permits—but it will be somewhere on Milwaukee Avenue close to the Loop, perhaps the most biked thoroughfare in the city and a street the city pinpoints as a high priority to add protected bike lanes. Chicago has seen more than a 100 percent increase in downtown bike commuters since 2005, there's 20,000 daily bicycle commuters, and McIntosh sees a prime opportunity.
Since Heritage focuses on coffee and pastries, the main difference between the two is the availability of alcohol and the focus of the food. The main menu item will be variations of pho (Vietnamese beef-based noodle dish) and other dishes rich in protein and electrolytes for bikers. Pho will be served throughout the day and night, alongside burgers and high-carb items. McIntosh calls the food concept "motion-oriented food" and "healthy junk food." He's not ready to release the name of the chef on board.
Craft cocktails will be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, based on fresh juices, making them similar whether virgin or boozy. Beer will be craft. The shop will come first, opening four-to-six weeks after the permits are in place. The cafe will take flight eight weeks after.
McIntosh is the only Chicagoan who's ever finished the Race Across America, and is also a 16-year veteran of the hospitality industry (House of Blues, Cubby Bear, Cornerstone). He says "it's been an ultra-marathon" for him and partner Mike Fierstein to get the project ready, but it's almost ready. More to come soon.