Despite the vehicles parked out front, Downtown’s Luckyduck Bicycle Café isn’t just a destination for cyclists.
Owners Aaron Wacks and Jim Ryan opened the bike shop, bistro and community center in August 2016 to create a neighborhood hub that also made cycling more accessible. Wacks describes it as “a safe space for both riders and non-riders.”
For new riders, adapting to use a bicycle in an urban setting can invite pressure or pretension, which is why Luckyduck aims to provide professional service in a relaxed environment. “Bike shops can be a little intimidating,” acknowledged Ryan.
The inventory includes mountain, road and touring bikes, as well as cyclocross (CX) models. Frames and complete bikes are for sale; models can be reserved online with a 10% deposit, and the shop also provides a full range of repair and maintenance services.
The café menu features Firebrand pastries, bagels and signature sandwiches, with a wide selection of vegan options. Red Bay Coffee and espresso drinks are available alongside a rotating selection of of local beers and teas from Blue Willow Tea Company.
Items are playfully named: the Night Heron ($7) is an open-faced bagel melt with smoked ham and Swiss; asking for a Gravedigger ($10) will get you a seitan dog with corn chili and cashew cheese on a soft roll.
On Tuesday, October 17, Tacos El Precioso is holding a vegan pop-up at Luckyduck. Filled with options like braised trumpet mushrooms, grilled cactus and roasted corn and “more surprises,” tacos are $3 each.
Luckyduck uses the space to host a variety of events, such as yoga classes, movie nights, live performances, and art/craft fairs. Ryan and Wacks said the eclectic programming reflects their shared interests and desire to engage people outside the bicycling community.
Recent events have raised funds for women’s cycling groups and undocumented immigrant families; a recent discussion explored alternative solutions to buying a home in the Bay Area.
In the future, owners hope to schedule more recurring events, like community rides that take place every Saturday morning. Depending on the air quality, next week’s 40th group ride will depart the shop at 10am, heading to Merritt College, up to Skyline Drive to admire the Bay views, then rolling back through Montclair and Moraga.
Wacks and Ryan said they also plan to start hosting workshops on bike repairs and are bringing back bike story night, which are “TED talks for bike nerds,” said Ryan.
Despite bicycling’s popularity, the owners said competition from other bike-friendly eateries in Oakland keeps them motivated and on their toes. “Maintaining the overhead of running both a bike shop and café” is a major challenge, said Ryan.
“I’ve seen everything we do done by other businesses in the past disappear,” he said, “and we’re simply trying to keep it going.”
Luckyduck Bicycle Café (510-891-1830) is located at 302 12th St. (at Harrison) and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8am to 7pm.
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