Bicycle commute sparks business idea for bike-themed cafe
Every weekend, Jaime Arrieta is out on the edge of the Rillito River path at Campbell Avenue, spinning on his trainer as cyclists and pedestrians whiz by.
If his bike is empty, he is probably brewing a cup of coffee for one of his regulars
Arrieta is the owner of Peddler on the Path, a mobile-bike-themed coffee shop that serves up espresso drinks, teas and all-natural sodas.
“I like to provide things on that path that you wouldn’t expect,” Arrieta says.
In addition to the drinks, he has compressed air, tubes, patch kits, bike maps, a repair stand attached to the front of his van and community tools to work on bikes.
He says a bike could be completely overhauled hanging off the front of his mobile cafe.
The Peddler on the Path also sets up at various bike-themed events including the bike swap and races throughout the region.
“There is nothing better than doing races and rides,” Arrieta says. “Serving coffee at 3 in the morning, there is always someone really happy to see you.”
Arrieta started forming the idea for his business more than 10 years ago when he gave up his car and started riding the Rillito River path to work every day.
“No matter what, I rode my bike,” Arrieta says of his commute, which included a portion of the Rillito.
Originally Arrieta wanted to operate the cafe out of a three-wheel bike like ice-cream hawkers use in Mexico. But when he started researching the health codes, he couldn’t figure out how to get all the required equipment on the bike.
One night on his way home from work, he cut through a neighborhood and saw the small van for sale.
“I looked at it and from the instant I saw it, I was like ‘that’s it,’” Arrieta says.
That was four years ago and he figured if he couldn’t make the business work, he would just sell the van.
He made his first drink three years ago at the start of the 2008 El Tour de Tucson.
Arrieta wanted to do something that he loved.
“I love biking and I really liked coffee and I thought it would be a really good combination,” Arrieta says. “It allowed me to be part of the bike community and do what I enjoy.”
He says he thought he would make more money and be able to quit his day job, but so far that hasn’t happened. In spite of that, he loves what he does.
“It allows me to ride my bike and make a little money on the side, but it is more about interacting with the people I enjoy being around,” he says. “I’ve never had a bad day. I am always around people that enjoy riding, talking about bikes and selling bikes.”
Although, he says he wouldn’t mind just doing The Peddler on the Path.
“If I could do this for half a day for the rest of my life, life would be good,” Arrieta says.
Check out The Peddler on the Path website every Wednesday for updates on where and when Arrieta will set up.