Pedal Tavern controversy heats up in Walker's Point, Third Ward
At first, it might be a little surprising to find out there's a Pedal Tavern controversy going on it our city, but there is, and both sides make valid points.
Three years ago, Derek Collins and Ryan Lloyd started Milwaukee Pedal Tavern, a 16-person "bicycle-powered party on wheels," that takes groups of people to multiple bars in the Third Ward and Walker's Point. The owners were inspired to bring a Pedal Tavern to Milwaukee after riding one in Minneapolis, the first United States city to have one, and imported a pedal tavern from Europe.
Pedal bar businesses now operate in more than 20 cities in the United States.
A seemingly growing group of individuals, however, find the "party on wheels" to be more of a nuisance on wheels.
Recently, Walker's Point resident Thor Hanson started a Facebook group "I Hate The Pedal Tavern." The group currently has 109 members and their main complaints are that Pedal Tavern riders are noisy, obnoxious, litterers and poor tippers.
"I have come in contact with the pedal tavern pretty much every day, at least once during their operating season. I had no problem with it until I noticed that every single group screams and yells constantly while riding on that thing," says Hanson. "It also congests traffic on the street."
Collins says most of their customers are well behaved and that the Pedal Tavern drivers explain the rules at the beginning of each ride. Many are very good tippers, he added, to both bartenders and the Pedal Tavern Drivers. (Recently, a group tipped one of their drivers more than $100).
"When we explain the rules to our riders at the beginning of our tours, we tell people to please be respectful of the bars and to make sure to tip the bartenders. But just like a regular bar, we have the occasional knucklehead who thinks that rules do not apply to them. Because of our high volume – we are going to have nearly 20,000 riders this year – bars will see the occasional bad customer come through," he says.
Kelly Weiss says she's noticed people throwing garbage and other objects from the Pedal Tavern while it was in motion. Alcohol is not allowed on the unit, but food and non-alcoholic beverages are OK.
"Throwing garbage into the street is unacceptable," says Weiss. "Yelling out to passersby is unacceptable. I have seen both happen."
In response, the owners started a "Pedal Tavern Clean Up Crew" that will roam the streets in Walker's Point and Third Ward to pick up trash. They also want to improve their relationship with the neighborhood people who are frustrated with their business.
Other residents on or near the Pedal Tavern routes think it runs too late in the evening. Pedal Tavern operates until 10 p.m.
Last week, Diane Dowland, owner of The Monkey Bar, 1619 S. 1st St., met with the Pedal Tavern owners on behalf of the Walker's Point Association to address neighbors' concerns and to improve the relationship.
"I think we devised some good strategies to help bridge the gap between the neighbors and the pedalers," she says.
Both the pedal tavern drivers and the bartenders need to further educate the riders on proper etiquette, says Dowland. During the meeting, the Pedal Tavern offered to provide a free of charge, special Walker's Point outing that would allow for bartenders and skeptical neighbors to try the Pedal Tavern.
The event will take place on Sunday, July 22.
"They love being part of our neighborhood and we love having them," says Dowland.
But Walker's Point resident Josh Beale doesn't think the meeting was a success, nor did it address the issues.
"Sounds to me like nothing happened other than they tried to buy our affection with free annoying things for the annoyed people to ride on," says Beale.
Collins says that the Pedal Tavern is good for the city and will bring over $1.3 million in revenue to local businesses in Walker's Point and the Third Ward in 2012.
"We try our hardest to make our business serve Milwaukee and its residents. We truly care about the businesses that we work with, and if there are any concerns, we address them immediately. We have definitely enjoyed our first three years in business and look forward to many more," he says.
Hanson says he respects Dowland's efforts and that he wants to support Pedal Tavern because it's a local business.
"I hope that the Pedal Tavern strongly encourages their patrons to tip when they go into a bar, and act like adults when they're on the streets. I feel like I'm 18 again and riding on a Summerfest shuttle with a bunch of yelling, drunken amateurs every time I see or hear that thing," says Hanson.http://www.onmilwaukee.com/bars/articles/pedaltaverncontroversy.html