Mobile bar PedalPub suspends plans to open Evanston location


Source: PedalPub

After considering a move to Evanston, mobile bar company PedalPub has pulled out of Illinois altogether. The Minneapolis-based company hosts bike-powered bar tours.

Kelly Gonsalves, Reporter

After a three-year licensing dispute with Chicago, mobile bar company PedalPub has pulled out of Illinois altogether, which includes ending negotiations for an Evanston location.

Currently operating in 29 locations nationwide, PedalPub manufactures pedal-powered mobile bars and offers bar tours on the 16-passenger bikes. Last summer, the company expressed interest in creating an Evanston branch and began reaching out to city officials, but PedalPub dropped the negotiations after the termination of its Chicago branch, which had been in constant conflict with Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. 

“We really had our hearts set on Chicago. I guess the way we were looking at it is we would move to Evanston … if we had some hope of getting back to Chicago someday,” said PedalPub joint founder and managing partner Al Boyce.  “We would basically create an expansion in Evanston.”

Elaine Kemna-Irish, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, said she last spoke with PedalPub’s Chicago city manager Matt Graham  in July 2013. She said she provided representatives from company with maps and ideas for possible tour routes, connected them with the city’s parking department and discussed their options for obtaining proper licensing and navigating Evanston’s parking regulations.

“I put them in my prospects because I thought at some point they might be coming back,” Kemna-Irish said. “I did even look into how they could possibly be in Evanston, but I don’t know what happened after that.”

Boyce said the people of Evanston were “very friendly to us,” but PedalPub’s principle focus was on solidifying its presence in Chicago. He said PedalPub could not “satisfy” the department’s license requirements and therefore could not acquire an appropriate license that would allow it to operate in Chicago, which he described as “very unfriendly to our small business.”

“Finally we said, yeah, we gotta get out of here,” Boyce said.

After losing the licensing dispute and permanently abandoning the prospect of operating in Chicago, PedalPub also pulled out of Evanston and the rest of Illinois. Boyce said the Evanston expansion no longer made sense without the hope of a Chicago location.

“Personally I think we’d do great in Evanston,” Boyce said. “I think it was going along swimmingly in Evanston. We just made a business decision to pull out.”

But Boyce said he is in contact with the new Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, whom he believes seems more welcoming to PedalPub. If they are able to get a license under this new director, he said an Evanston location could possibly be a future extension.

PedalPub will hear back from the Chicago department by the end of April, he said.

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Twitter: @kellyagonsalves