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The Faro Bike Lounge

Our cities are the stage for a pedalling revolution, which, although slow, is set to create a new paradigm: that of the cycle-civilised, bike-informed citizen. This new mentality is leading to the creation of places where you can repair your bike while you’re having lunch or drinking a coffee. In the city of Faro, we found an example of this, the Bike Lounge. ECO123 talked to the people in charge, Alberto Henriques (40), who spent 18 years working for a bicycle import company, and Susana Henriques (42), who worked as a supervisor in a hotel in Faro.

ECO123: How did you get this business idea? The concept of a café with a workshop? And is it normal that clients leave their bikes here and stay to eat?

Alberto Henriques
Alberto Henriques

Alberto: I knew about it, it’s new here in Portugal but abroad it’s something there’s been for some time. We combined my experience with bicycles with Susana’s experience in the hotel business, and suddenly we thought, let’s do this.

Susana: People come in and leave their bikes here and stay to have lunch; normally they come to see Alberto and take the opportunity to have lunch or tea.
Was it difficult to turn the dream into reality?
It took more than double the amount of time that I thought would be necessary for implementation. What with the council and official papers, it is always complicated to manage everything. There’s always something at the end. What’s funny is that after being so demanding the law changed and the procedure was unblocked by “zero licensing”.

Finding the location took time as well. But in my opinion we still haven’t got the ideal site, but when we find it we’ll move straight away. For the moment it’s fine and it’s good for getting going.

Is there a new mentality about the role of the bicycle in our cities? How is this reflected in the type of clients who come to your business?
Alberto: We get all types, from normal cyclists who ride a bit to the ones with shaved legs. But this is more to do with my area of specialisation, which is suspension systems and shock absorbers, which is something more technical and there are few people who do it in Portugal.

Susana: We have a wide range of clients, the ones that Alberto described but also people with no connection to bicycles. Like students who come for the internet, women who come at tea time and I have others who come often because of the type of meals and teas that we serve. Which are completely different from the things served in other establishments.

Do you concentrate on local produce and what is organic?
DSC08994We try to concentrate on the things that are as natural as possible. We have an organic supplier/producer who has a plot and brings us fresh produce every day. And everything organic is best, despite being “ugly”. Sometimes at lunchtime we run out of some products because I always order small quantities each day so that it is always fresh. We think it’s better like that.

How did this concept of café/workshop go down with people?
Alberto: I think that in general people are enjoying it, from the oldest to the youngest. We have everyone including the old lady who comes to drink tea and thinks it’s funny that people come in by bike.

To keep costs down and increase their physical and mental well-being, people are using bicycles more and more. Can we speak of a new paradigm of people who are “cycle-civilised” or “bike-informed”?
hey’re good words, but I can say that there are not more people using bicycles because it is dangerous to ride in our city. Faro is the capital of the Algarve and it doesn’t have the right conditions for cyclists, we go to Vilamoura and it is fantastic cycling there. Here people would like the conditions to be better, and if they were, the number of people cycling would double from one day to the next.

DSC09007The “cycle route” in Faro is ridiculous, a blue line painted on the road. Anyone can do that. And we’re just losing out like that because the tourists who come here are tourists from Europe who normally ride bicycles, and they are not very impressed with the conditions that they find here. I am the first one to tell people that, to get out of Faro, it’s safer to catch the train to Fuzeta and get on the Eco-Via cycle route there.
How would you like your project to be in the future?
If it continues the way it is, it is not bad, with the conditions the city provides us with we can’t expect much more. Of course I have a number of ideas for a bigger place but I can’t reveal them now. It’s a matter of waiting and seeing.

Bike Lounge Café
Rua Dr.João Lúcio, 5 – Faro
Tel.: (+351) 962 649 761
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bikeloungecafe

About the author

João Gonçalves (31) Was born in Serpa, and holds a degree in Marketing, Business Communication, and Audio-visual Production from the University of Algarve, in Faro. He is currently working as a director, cameraman and editor. He lives in Faro.

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