The food truck industry has been around for years, however there is a new business opportunity emerging in the mobile food and drink industry: the pedal pub, a human-powered bar.
What is essentially an over sized surrey, has 5 pedal seats on each side and seats up to 17 people, including a bartender and driver. Riders propel the pedal pub through city streets while they enjoy their favorite alcoholic beverage.
What apparently started as a marketing ploy for a local tavern in the Netherlands has spread into nearly 2 dozen cities across the U.S. including Nashville, Minneapolis and Houston to name a few.
Just as the gourmet food truck industry has taken off over the past decade, the pedal pub could see similar growth due to its uniqueness and relatively low operating costs. Pedal pubs are also a healthier alternative than just sitting at a bar and very eco-friendly.
“It’s 100 percent green,” Gigi Hart told the Sun-Sentinel. “There’s no gasoline involved, it’s only pedaling. It’s really fun to go from bar to bar on it, it shows that you can party, be healthy and green at the same time.”
Other advantages of owning and operating a pedal pub include:
- Low start up costs
- Flexible schedule
- High profit margins
If you are interested in starting your own pedal pub, here are a few tips to help you get started.
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How to start a pedal pub
Determine the city your pedal pub will be located. As with any business, when determining the city, you’ll need to consider the competition among other things. Although the number of pedal pub businesses is still relatively small, don’t forget you will still be competing with other food trucks and bars in the area.
While choosing your location, you’ll also need to consider what routes you will take. The routes will need to be flat for the most part, so try to avoid any streets that have grades greater than 6%. Think about what stops are along the way as well. Many of the existing pedal pubs have routes that have up to 15 stops at various bars and restaurants. You will want to create scenic routes as well pub crawls. Other things to consider when picking routes are:
- Day of week and time route will be used
- Car and pedestrian traffic
- Length of route (distance and time)
- Starting point
- Storage of pedal pub when not in use
2) Check local and state drinking laws
Once you have determined a city, first you’ll need to check local and state open container laws. There are no federal laws regulating pedal pubs, but several states do have laws that will prevent you from even starting a pedal pub. For example, Wisconsin does not allow alcohol on pedal pubs, but Jeff Stone, a Republican state Representative from Greenfield, Wis., recently introduced a bill that would allow municipalities to allow alcohol on pedal pubs.
It is recommended that you set up meetings with your city’s business licensing department. One of the primary concerns is safety and traffic, so be prepared to counter these concerns with your planned routes.
Another thing to consider are state open container laws. These is a reason a majority of pedal pub businesses are dry. Instead, they offer tours of the city and partner with company’s and local restaurants as a form of advertising. So just because alcohol is not permitted, doesn’t mean you can’t run a successful pedal pub.
There are several ways to make money, but here are a few of the more obvious ways:
- Sell advertising on the pedal pub – Microsoft partnered with a Kansas City pedal pub during the MLS All star weekend. Pedal pubs are sure to catch people’s attention.
- Sell alcohol (if permissible)
- Partner with local restaurants, bars, breweries, resorts, etc. – Offer to
- Hourly rentals – Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, office outings, parties, parades, group of friends, and more.
4) Buy a pedal pub
You’re largest expense is going to be purchasing the actual pedal pub. Right now there are only a few companies that build pedal pubs that you can buy from.
- Pedal Crawler® manufacturers pedal pubs a.k.a. party bikes and offers free consultation. You can visit their website here for more details.
- Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a pedal pub for $40,000. It seats up to 17 and includes a sound system with four speakers in the bar’s overhead storage racks beneath its wooden roof, allowing you to play music from an integrated AM/FM radio that supports MP3 connectivity.
- You may also want to considered going through PedalPub®, which is a pedal pub business based in Minneapolis. PedalPub® is looking for entrepreneurs to expand operations in premier locations throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
5) Start Marketing
Create a website and accounts with several social media sites as a starting point. It is important that your website has any necessary information, such as routes, pricing, contact info, etc. Once the business is up and running though, people will definitely notice your pedal pub on the streets and create buzz on its own.
6) Start making money
Here are some projections of the potential annual revenue, which are could vary depending on location, rates and season length. This does not consider additional revenue from advertising or off season rentals.
|Avg. Hours booked per week||10||16|
|Rate per hour||$150||$130|
|Revenue per week||$1,500||$2,080|
|Total Revenue per week||$3,580|
|Number of weeks3||28|
|1Weekdays are Monday – Thursday|
|2Weekends are Friday – Sunday|
|3Assumes 7 month season|