BrewBike pedals along with remote operations


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

The BrewBike counter at Fran’s Cafe in Willard Residential College is no longer open. Since moving completely online, BrewBike has engaged in extensive virtual marketing operations.

Joshua Perry, Reporter

Its iconic set of wheels may not be on campus, but BrewBike has officially resumed operations this fall.

The student-operated startup moved online amid COVID-19 safety concerns. But even without a physical presence, BrewBike’s employees are still serving Northwestern and the Evanston community.

Gabrielle Rabon, a Medill junior who works on BrewBike’s student-run marketing team, said the goal of BrewBike’s remote operations is to use social media and digital communication to create an experience that gives customers the feel of what the shop is like in ordinary times. Rabon said that is no easy task.

“It’s been a unique challenge, specifically this fall, to maintain a presence on campus when we don’t have an in-person operation,” Rabon said. “Because obviously when you think of BrewBike, you think of the bike, receiving coffee and hanging out at (Cafe) Bergson.”

The startup’s team focused on selling coffee grounds online, establishing partnerships with Evanston businesses and posting on social media. It also collaborated with student groups, organizing a t-shirt design competition with STITCH Magazine and a social media takeover with the jazz fusion band Morning Dew.

Still, BrewBike employee and Weinberg junior Hannah Paridis said the job just isn’t the same.

“I really miss feeling like you’re a part of somebody’s day,” Paridis said. “And it’s such a little thing, but giving someone a coffee, especially sleep-deprived Northwestern students, really means a lot to them.”

Paridis started with BrewBike as a barista when she was a freshman. She got a lot out of her experience at BrewBike besides work — friends, relationships with customers and even a few new skills. It isn’t clear when Paridis and other student baristas will be able to return to in-person work.

Communication junior Gus Moody, BrewBike’s chief operations officer, said BrewBike can only return to campus when the school decides it’s safe to do so. The company is definitely in it for the long haul, he said. In the meantime, reaching the community means virtual engagement.

Students like Weinberg sophomore Lila Wells, who works on the social media marketing team, are working to make sure BrewBike can still serve students — with more partnerships, virtual events or any way they can.

“The campus culture is something that we really want to replicate in the best way possible,” Wells said. “We can’t completely do so, but we can try our hardest.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @joshdperry

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