Couple Hopes Amenities Will Make Café a South Loop Cycling Hub

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The new cafe’s bike-centric logo.

Two members of Chicago’s XXX Racing team plan to open a new café at 18th and Indiana, with a number of features they hope will entice bike commuters to stop in for a cup, a bite, or a beer.

The eatery is named the Spoke & Bird, after its bike-friendly aspects and co-owner Alicia Bird. It will include ample bike parking, a repair stand in the patio, and possibly an on-street bike corral and/or a nearby Divvy station. The café is located a stone’s throw from the bike path and overpass near 18th and Calumet, which the owners point out is the only route to the lakefront between Roosevelt and 31st.

“We think our proximity to the Lakefront Trail, and all the activity in the South Loop, will make us a hub for people traveling on bikes between downtown, the South Loop, and beyond,” said Scott Golas, Bird’s business and romantic partner.

The café will be located in the former Café Society space. It’s housed within a three-story Chicago Park District fieldhouse, which recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation, including the addition of children’s science labs. Just east is the historic Glessner House, and to the south is a park that includes the Clarke House, Chicago’s oldest standing residence, built in 1836.

Golas, who founded the software firm Xmplify, and Bird, a designer and project manager who worked at Café Society since early 2013, bought the café in July and closed it for renovations last month. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising an additional $70,000 to overhaul the 4,200 square foot patio and renovate the kitchen.

Pending city inspections, the couple hopes to launch the Spoke & Bird on December 13. “When it reopens, it will be like night and day,” Golas promised.

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The future location of the Spoke & Bird. Image: Google Sreetview

Café Society was already a frequent starting point for the South Loop Kidical Mass, but Golas says new features will make the new restaurant especially handy for bike commuters. A third “inverted U” bike rack was recently installed on the sidewalk in front of the café. The owners are also working with the Chicago Department of Transportation to install an on-street parking corral, which the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance has agreed to help fund. Bird and Golas are also in talks with the city, the neighborhood association, and Divvy about getting a bike-share station installed nearby.

In addition to the workstand on the patio, Golas said they plan to host basic bike maintenance clinics at the café. He also said they’ll encourage local bike clubs and advocacy groups to hold events at the space. “We won’t turn down any intelligent idea that helps get people onto bikes,” he said. “Cycling is the smart way to get around the city.”

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