one of the shops, but a stone's throw from my office was formerly a clothing store, with the upper floor given over to the owner's daughter for her hairdressing business. this was rather tautologically named a cut above; obvious perhaps and more than likely shared with hundreds of other hairdressers, but arguably better than lorna's hairdressing. clever names for shops and businesses are nothing new, but often point to at least a smidgeon of ingenuity and soul on the part of the proprietors. and the best bit is that, even if prospective customers failed to see the significance of the name above the door, it really was of no great nevermind.
perhaps the most obvious example of this in the realm of bicycle retail is chain reaction, a phrase that would more usually describe a process related to nuclear fission, but the inclusion of the word chain provides the link (pardon the pun) to our own little world. the interweb is awash with images of further examples, such as a spanish grocery store juan in a million, a wool shop sew what?, perhaps the obvious fish'n'chip shop a salt and battery and a lingerie business entitled frisky business.
no doubt there are several in a similar vein applied to bicycle shops, though many simply tread the more obvious choices. however, no matter the necessity for quality bicycle shops, the pelotonese are no longer confined solely to hanging out in front of the counter, chatting with the mechanic as he tries to install electrical cable into the appropriate orifices in a carbon frame. in keeping with our italian brethren, we seem wholesale to have adopted the coffee shop as a more comfortable alternative. in truth, who would rather spend hours staring at the same bicycles and componentry week in week out, as opposed to settling into a leather sofa with a cup of froth and a danish?
lately, britain's cycling cafés appear to have seamlessy morphed from those serving hot tea and a bacon toastie to those with a resplendent and shiny italian coffee machine sat in pride of place behind the counter, bordered by a mouthwatering selection of cakes and pastries. additionally, plastic chairs and formica topped tables have been dispensed with in favour of wood and leather and in keeping with this, the pelotonese have adopted sportwool and a wide variety of prendas cycle caps. if they offered italian language lessons at lunchtime, there would doubtless be a lengthy list of applicants.
which is why, in the light of all i've mentioned above, the stunning genius of opening a cycle café in st george's terrace, roker, sunderland called fausto coffee is worthy of a rousing burst of applause.
if you live in the area, no doubt this is all old news, but having only opened on 28 march this year, it's not all that old. the superbly named coffee emporium is the brainchild of louise riddell. i asked her what happens if customers fail to glean the appropriateness of the name?
"It's not an issue if people don't 'get' the name. It's a play on words that doesn't exclude anyone; cyclists get it, and it sparks interest and conversation for others who want to know more."
of course, a café that points its efforts in the direction of cyclists is hardly unheard of. as a breed apart from the civilian population, we are happy enough to adopt a faux italian attitude, one that stretches as far as impressively uninformed critique of designer coffees. it would be hard to choose which came first; the café or the peloton that decided it needed the affirmation of froth and crema. however, aside from the tell-tale bikes leaning against the window, not every establishment embraces the inner domestique quite so readily as fausto coffee.
"On the wall we have a lovely print of Coppi and Bartali sharing a bottle of wine, some great little nik-naks including framed, original razor blade boxes branded with ornate 1950s packaging; Coppi and Bartali, again!
"We also have a fabulous mural depicting the cross-section profile of a Giro stage featuring the legendary Mortirolo and Stelvio passes, and there's a selection of carefully chosen merchandise for sale, including Coppi branded cycling caps."
louise's appreciation of the specific genre that informs her new milieu extends not only to the café's interior but also its external public face. "The exterior of the shop is painted in a blue, colour matched to Fausto Coppi's racing jersey of the time (Bianchi), and we're launching our own kit soon featuring the same shade of blue".
In the space of only a few weeks, between four and two dozen cyclists have begun counting upon fausto coffee as their pelotonic home, some of whom use it as their start, finish or midpoint of a bike ride. if anyone's anywhere near the locale, i wouldn't think any of us would need too much persuading to drop by, say hello and delight in a coffee drawn from a rapha/rocket italian coffee machine, accompanied by one (or several) delectable crumpets, cheese scones, breads, toasties, banana loaf... oh how i could go on. and all in the shadow of the great fausto.
friday 1 may 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................