To say that it’s cozy is an understatement, but Steve and Leslie Schlegel know about maximizing space. They did, after all, manage to build the thriving bicycle business out of a tiny, four-employee shop at Southwest 59th Street and Western Avenue into the two-location shop on Automobile Alley that uses every inch to its fullest.
The idea for a cafe came about due to the lengthy custom bike-buying process. From the initial selection of the bike to the customization for individual owners, it can take the better part of a day.
“Steve and I talked about how nice it would be to have a place to relax while they waited, grab something to eat or a cup of coffee,” Leslie recalled.
The shop was growing, and they had visions of a cafe, so more space was necessary. Schlegel made the move to its present location in 2007, expanding farther into the Family and Recreation Shop across the street in 2010. Originally, talks of a coffee shop were brewing, and thinking shifted to include an addition the neighborhood didn’t have — a wine bar and cafe.
The name, chosen by Leslie’s father, was a perfect expression of their vision: Pelotón. A pelotón is the main pack of riders in a race — ideal for a casual hangout for riders.
With whimsical touches such as fixed unicycle barstools and nods to a cycling lifestyle, Pelotón — located at 900 N. Broadway Ave. — is inclusive to riders of all stripes, much like its signature customer service.
The open, casual patio is geared for an afternoon away from the office, a quick bite or a relaxed evening with friends. The space feels like a well-kept secret.
The Schlegel brand is a family affair, and the cafe proved no different. From menu planning with the late chef Chip Sears, brother-inlaw to Leslie Schlegel, to the logo and branding, everyone who had a hand in creating the cafe is a relative or close friend of the family.
Earlier this year, chef Jason Lowery, who previously worked with VZD’s Restaurant & Club, joined the crew to help put the finishing touches on the menu and in the actual construction of the restaurant.
The Pelotón menu took shape around fresh ingredients and flavors that could be created using the space available. Sandwiches were a perfect fit. Fresh-baked breakfast treats and made-from-scratch chips, pickles and jams rounded out the menu.
When the Schlegels tasted chef Jason’s creations, they thought “it was absolutely amazing, the flavors that Jason was able to create in that tiny kitchen.”
The variety is peppered with inspired wine and beer pairings and fun cocktails. Leslie wanted to make clear that most of the dishes do take a little longer to prepare than your typical sandwich shop, with good reason. With an emphasis on fresh and scratch-made, it’s worth the wait, she said.
Pelotón recently started a delivery service, too, and — true to their roots — it utilizes bikes.
Leslie also hinted at a seasonal menu rotation, with new beers and wines to match, and some improvements to make the patio more welcoming as the nights grow longer and the weather turns chilly.
Pelotón is finalizing a catering menu that would be an extension of their delivery service, she said.
As for plans for expansion of the physical space, Leslie said, “There are no plans at this point, but Steve and I love doing new things.”