Mobile bar PedalPub considers Evanston move


Source: PedalPub

PedalPub says it is considering moving to Evanston amid a licensing dispute in Chicago. The Minneapolis-based company hosts bike-powered bar tours.

Patrick Svitek, City Editor

Locked in a licensing dispute with Chicago, an unconventional business is considering taking its pedal-powered bar to the former home of a temperance movement.

Minneapolis-based PedalPub, which offers bar tours using a 16-passenger bike, says it has reached a tipping point with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, citing a three-year back-and-forth over the appropriate license for its quirky operation.

“We don’t know what to do at this point,” said Matt Graham, Chicago market manager for PedalPub. “We’re completely at a loss as to what could possibly solve this problem.”

On Tuesday, Graham said he planned to visit Evanston this week and has already talked with the Chamber of Commerce, which he described as “very welcoming.”

Elaine Kemna-Irish, executive director of the chamber, confirmed Thursday that she has spoken with Graham and the city’s economic development team has met with PedalPub. So far, city officials have not found any major problems with PedalPub operating in Evanston, she said.

“I think it might work,” Kemna-Irish added. “The city is really looking into it.”

Graham said PedalPub is eying Evanston because it is a Chicago suburb that still has a “city feel.” Plus, the business does not fit in on streets where the speed limit is over 35 mph, he added.

PedalPub’s public interest in Evanston comes weeks after the department denied its application for a charter/sightseeing vehicle license. Graham said he doubts PedalPub will win an appeal of the decision, a hearing for which is scheduled next week.

Department spokesman David Staudacher said Thursday that Pedal Pub currently meets one of two requirements for a charter/sightseeing vehicle under Chicago law: Its vehicles hold 10 or more people, but they run afoul of Federal Motor Vehicle Standards, which require a braking system and seat belts, among other safety measures.

“The City of Chicago has been working with PedalPub to get a proper license,” Staudacher wrote in an email to The Daily.

Graham admitted PedalPub occupies a grey area when it comes to licensing.

“Nobody was thinking of 16-person bicycles when they made the laws,” Graham said. “That’s understandable … but we’ve been trying to get this license for three years.”

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Twitter: @PatrickSvitek