Two women and their bar bike
Compelling evidence of downtown revitalization, as everyone can surely agree, are bar bikes, those large truck-sized contraptions with a dozen or so people peddling away and having so much more fun than you.
“Hey, do you want to buy a bar bike with me?” Stephanie Austin asked her friend Michelle McLaughlin in 2017. McLaughlin had just quit her job of 15 years two days before. “Yes,” she quickly responded, “I don’t know what else I’m doing.” The result was the Glass City Bar Hopper, which has evolved from Austin’s Glass City Pedicabs, which she co-owns with her husband, Maxwell.
Fast forward two years and the Glass City Bar Hopper is going strong. They have a 17 passenger bar bike and an 8 passenger golf cart limousine. It is still almost always a two-woman operation, with McLaughlin driving the bike while Austin plays the role of bartender/cheerleader/coach (although they do occasionally have a guest bartender). “Stephanie is a really good coach,” McLaughlin says, to which Austin agrees, “I am apparently very good at yelling to encourage people.” Michelle quickly adds, “…. in a very pleasant manner.”
Buy the ticket, take the ride
They take varied routes, including Uptown and Downtown bar rides, tours of the historic homes of the Old West End, near downtown outdoor art and murals, bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings, corporate events and team building exercises. “Honestly, every one of our rides is a totally unique experience, even for us,” says Austin. One of the most popular uses is for corporate team building exercises, which are, according to Austin, an “amazing way to get together with your team and encourage each other while just having a nice time out.”
The rides are all BYOB (no glass, despite the name), served and kept cold by the funtender. They’ve also teamed up with a lot of local bars and restaurants to provide drink and food specials to the riders. In a typical two hour ride, they usually manage to stop at between 3-6 bars/restaurants.
In the future, Austin and McLaughlin are looking to expand the fleet while also finding a way to accommodate smaller groups of riders. They do have advertising space available for interested parties.
The golf cart is primarily used to pair with the bar bike for larger events like weddings. But they also use it for Bar Golf. Played out over 18 “holes” (bars), riders are given a scorecard and get points for drinking and eating. “No one has ever done a full 18 holes,” Austin said, quickly adding that this isn’t a challenge (although it sure sounds like one). Any takers?
Glass City Bar Hopper offers two-hour rides for $300
For more information, call 419-309-3780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.