Nick Blaszczyk and his fiancee Jody McKenzie knew they wanted to start their own business. They had a passion for Detroit and wanted to share their love of Motown with suburbanites whose knowledge of the city's entertainment offerings is limited to Comerica Park and Motor City Casino. So when they first laid eyes on a cycle pub, they knew it was the perfect economic endeavor to embark on together.
Nine short months after conceiving the idea, business is booming. They have rides booked months in advance. There's so much demand, in fact, they're adding another craft to their fleet in June. The Detroit Cycle Pub tours downtown Detroit, cruising past iconic landmarks like the Fox Theatre, Grand Circus Park, and the Spirit of Detroit as well as less widely known places like the Belt and Cafe D'Mongo's. Thirteen people can peddle the craft while an additional three relax on a bench at the back of the bike. Once the new craft is operational, a group as large as 30 can cruise downtown together.
While the couple loves bringing people to Detroit, they've also branched out to Royal Oak ,where smaller, six-seater bikes can be rented for a cruise downtown. The smaller bikes are great for a date or a small group of friends looking to hit the city's many bars.
Plans to build the business don't end there. Blaszczyk and McKenzie already have a Midtown cycle pub in the works that will take peddlers around the neighborhood bursting with hip restaurants, art galleries, bars, and shops.
Much of the company's success is owed to partnerships the couple has built with bars in the area. They work with Punch Bowl Social (where all downtown rides depart from), Town Pump Tavern, Centaur Bar, Checkers, Downtown Louie's, Central Kitchen + Bar, and a handful of other locations where the cycle pub stops throughout the tour. These locations often offer discounts and specials exclusively for riders. The driver can also call ahead to reserve space and drinks for the group as they tool around town.
If you'd rather spend the entire two hours of the tour pedaling around downtown, the pub also has a cooler available where riders can stash drinks and snacks, but you'll have to supply those. Glass bottles are not permitted, but Blaszczyk always has a stock of red Solo cups just in case.
Blaszczyk is a gregarious and hospitable host with a knowledge of downtown that will impress even seasoned visitors, and while the business owner still captains many of the cycle pub's voyages, he might not be your driver if you've got a ride booked sometime soon.
With demand on the rise, Blaszczyk and McKenzie have added a few new drivers to their roster. Kevin Lamb, founder of This Is a Good Sign, now leads tours for the cycle pub and commands the vessel with excitement and insight into downtown.
Because our love of Detroit and drinking runs deep, the Metro Times newsroom boarded the Detroit Cycle Pub on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, despite the threat of rain. Blaszczyk connected a phone to the Bluetooth-enabled speaker system, we commanded an intern to DJ our journey, and we were off.
The Detroit Cycle Pub has a special license that allows it to tool around, at around 8 mph downtown on the same thoroughfares where cars drive.
Passengers power the bike, but there's also an engine that propels the vehicle forward once everyone's too drunk to remember to peddle. Being a gracious host, Blaszczyk turned the motor on right away for us.
Weather be damned, we peddled the bike from Town Pump Tavern to Punch Bowl Social, where we sipped Mason Mules and when it started pouring, well, we sipped a little more.
Most Detroit Cycle Pub rides depart rain or shine, but if the weather is really nasty, they will reschedule the ride for a day and time that works for both the company and the riders. As a group of peddlers who rode during less-than-ideal weather, we can say that the experience was fun despite the raindrops, and maybe it was even better for it.
After Punch Bowl Social, Blaszczyk took us to Downtown Louie's, and we ended our tour at Centaur Bar for happy hour — the whole thing was a great way to spend time with colleagues, which makes the cycle pub as great for a work outing as it is for a bachelorette party. By the time we were exiting the craft, we were already thinking of an excuse to rent it for another occasion.
Of course, we'll have to look ahead a few months, weekend evenings are almost entirely booked through the end of July.