Shifting Gears: New bike shop / coffee bar hits the “grounds” running
Coffee lovers and bike enthusiasts alike will be thrilled to hear that a new cyclery and coffee shop just opened in downtown Eau Claire! SHIFT Cyclery & Coffee Bar is located across the street from the Masonic Temple at 615 Graham Ave. Although it hasn’t been open long, SHIFT is already a hit – and it’s no surprise why.
“The idea that you can pull up a seat at the bar and watch bikes being worked on, interact with the mechanics, and learn about the process really meant a lot to us.” –SHIFT co-owner Aaron Salmon
While Eau Claire is no stranger to coffee or the world of biking, SHIFT is definitely different than your normal coffee or bike shop. “We wanted to keep the feel of local haunts like The Joynt and Racy’s but add something new and exciting, drawing on our experiences in bigger cities from different parts of the country,” Dan Green said. “We ended up with a beautiful, airy space with plenty of natural light, organic textures, and comfortable seating.”
Green, co-owner and bike service manager, is just one of the masterminds behind SHIFT. Green, Laura Lash, Sean Brandenburg, Aaron Salmon, and Colin Carey – all co-owners and managers of the shop – felt that downtown Eau Claire was lacking a creative meeting space. After noticing the once-empty building that is now SHIFT, they began to form the idea of a bicycle and coffee shop based on their own experiences traveling and living in places like Seattle and Chicago.
“The idea that you can pull up a seat at the bar and watch bikes being worked on, interact with the mechanics, and learn about the process really meant a lot to us,” Salmon said. We wanted the bike repair to be front-and-center, but we also needed to balance that with a solid café experience that didn’t feel like you were getting coffee at a car dealership while waiting for repairs.”
As such, the coffee shop is the first thing you see when you enter the building. Items on the menu range from Chemex pour-overs to kombucha on draft, and there are plenty of decaf options for caffeine-sensitive folks. They serve a variety of baked goods including scones, cookies, Liege waffles (i.e., “street waffles”), and some vegan options.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the menu, though, is the amount of independent coffee roasters SHIFT features. “We are highlighting the chocolaty richness of Soul Brewed’s Nitrogen-Infused Cold Brew,” Carey said. “We have brought in the classic espresso from Intelligentsia roasters out of Chicago, who have a reputation of quality-focused espresso and coffee. Rounding out our coffee curation is the manual brewing pour over highlighting Ruby Coffee Roasters out of Nelsonville, Wisconsin.”
As for the bike shop aspect of SHIFT, services span from a basic tune-up to à la carte service, and they even offer emergency trailside and roadside services. You can get anything from parts and accessories to a whole new bicycle at the shop. “We have new hybrid, mountain, and adventure bikes from Kona and cool retro cruisers and commuter bikes from Retrospec,” Brandenburg said.
With that said, Green believes that SHIFT will serve as a city cycling hub where people can plan rides, projects, and races as well as connect with other bicyclists and simply talk about biking. “A person can come in any day of the week and expect non-judgmental advice and help, regardless of their equipment, riding style, or budget,” he said. “We want to engage the community with new and fun things to do and provide quality equipment and service that will help people love riding their bikes.”
This is just the beginning for SHIFT. Customers can look forward to offerings such as food trucks, café food, ride clinics, and bike mechanics classes down the line. “We want a lot to be happening during May, which is Bike Month – rides, sales, foods, contests,” Lash said. “We want to celebrate SHIFT and promote biking throughout Eau Claire.”
And these upcoming events are for everyone – including novice bike riders and coffee drinkers. “We want people to feel comfortable asking questions if they don’t know about coffee or bikes, and at the same time we hope the aficionados out there will be impressed with what we’re providing,” Brandenburg said. “We’re trying to share some of the passion and energy we have for coffee and bikes, and we hope people will respond and come spend some time with us.”