The restaurant, coffee shop, bike shop hybrid that is Pedalers Fork journeys beyond great locally sourced food to deliver a unique sense of community in the modern world.
“Even in the 21st century, at the end of the day, community is all we really have,” Gideon Kleinman of Pedalers Fork remarks as the sun cascades through the floor to ceiling windows of the Calabasas, California eatery. At once a restaurant, coffee shop and bike shop, Pedalers Fork is in no way a mismatched hodgepodge. The space is immediately calming with natural light entering from all angles via well thought out windows. The sounds of frogs billow up from the property's creek adjacent to an enormous outdoor dining area and bike shop. The aroma of fresh ingredients fill the air.
Headed by owner Robbie Schaeffer and Gideon Kleinman, who helped conceive the idea and serves as Pedalers Fork's Brand Manager, this unexpected business model has been gathering serious momentum. They recently hosted the 2014 James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour and got to showcase their cuisine to a prestigious crowd of refined palates. Yet, the message of this establishment seems to be about more than great food.
“Most things we come in contact with these days are disposable, digital or just lost in the cloud,” Gideon explains. “We are looking for people to ride with, share a meal with and depend on for support, and that's what I call community. Getting to hear that someone else loves and enjoys Pedalers Fork is one of our greatest accomplishments and that's what community is all about.”
Gideon went on to share even more about Pedalers Fork's philosophy and inspiration:
Q: Pedalers Fork is a restaurant, coffee shop, bike shop... please take a moment to explain how and why this intermingling makes complete sense.
- For us as cyclists, food, coffee, beer and riding have always been things that go together. We wanted Pedalers Fork to be the place where all of our passions could seamlessly work together. Wake up, have a great cup of coffee, go ride the roads or trails that we love and then come back to refuel and have fun with the great food, beer and cocktails. Café culture has always been a part of cycling and we are now expanding on that concept by creating a true destination that can be enjoyed by anyone but will especially appeal to cyclists. I don't think that there is anyone who has built out this concept to the degree that we have and I constantly hear from people that we built their dream place and that's exactly what we are going for.
Q: Why is sourcing local farms fundamental to your business structure?
- We are big fans of sourcing from local farms and small-scale purveyors as much as possible for a variety of reasons. First and foremost local sourcing will in most cases provide the best and most seasonally appropriate ingredients which speak for themselves and have amazing flavor. The impact on the environment by sourcing locally is minimized which we are happy to work towards since spending time in nature is one of our biggest loves. The final aspect to local sourcing that's integral to our business structure is all about keeping the money close and funding the micro-economies that we come in contact with the most. To put it simply, if you buy from your local farmer or purveyor they in turn will eat at your restaurant and turn into your customer as well.
Q: How is Pedalers Fork utilizing its physical space, location and philosophy to build community?
- I think the physical space allows people to use the business in a vast array of ways and it lets them be themselves and feel comfortable. For cyclists the community building power is obvious as a destination / meeting space, but for everyone else it has proven to be the same thing due to the flexible nature of our building and lets face it, we practically never close! It often feels like Cheers, and getting to go to a place where you are bound to run into someone you know is an awesome community building force. People meeting new people and becoming friends through shared interests is pretty much the definition of community for me.
Q: You recently hosted the 2014 James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour. Why was that such a special triumph and does it seem surreal?
- That was such a special triumph for us because we often have been recognized for having this crazy unique business model with all these different things going on, but at the end of the day, Pedalers Fork is a restaurant first and foremost and we truly stand by our cuisine. Dan Murray, our chef, has gone to great lengths to produce a menu that has something for everyone and is amazing food. I don't think we're trying to reinvent the wheel, but we are providing our patrons with dishes that are unique and truly special in my opinion. The JBFD was the night to showcase the food and only the food.
Q: As Brand Manager for Pedalers Fork, what are some of the fun, imaginative ways you get to introduce the brand to people and/or live the brand yourself?
- I would say the most fun we have is when we are sponsoring The Tour of California and US Pro Challenge or getting to do the Leadville 100. It’s amazing how many people we have come in contact with through these events who make it back into the restaurant and seek us out to tell us how much they enjoyed their experience. There is something really powerful about connecting in person and letting people experience us living our brand. Even on our everyday rides we inevitably meet people and talk shop, and that's grass roots marketing at its finest. What you see is what you get, a group of passionate people who love what they do, its really genuine and amazing.
For Robbie Schaeffer and myself to get to create this dream project has been the most surreal experience of my life and I would encourage everyone to follow a dream and be passionate about what you do. I have never worked so hard in my life and at the same time, none of it feels like work. Live, eat, drink, love and ride: its pretty darn simple. If you do those things, you can't go wrong. – Alexander CAMPBELL