The idea to launch the first Pedal Pub in Saskatchewan has been brewing for a while, according to one of the owners.
Matana Hannotte said her team got their initial taste of the franchise back on a trip to Nashville, Tenn., in 2018.
“It was the highlight of our trip; I can confidently say it was so much fun. We headed back to the hotel afterwards and we said Saskatoon really needs something like this and we were brewing up ideas left and right,” Hannotte said.
“We just figured the city really needed something that has a social outing. It displays our downtown region, which is, it’s beautiful down there. We cruise down by the river. We were just really looking to add something to our city that really showcases everything.”
The experienced server explored and researched the idea with a business partner in university.
“We worked for the whole semester on that. At the end of it, the professor, he quite enjoyed it, and he asked us if we were really going to pursue it and from there, we reached out to the franchise and that was two years ago,” Hannotte said.
“It’s been quite overwhelming so far. We’ve had an amazing show-up, we haven’t even been open for a week and things have been hectic in the best way possible.”
Hannotte said they have been working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) for the past year and will have ongoing communication throughout its season, which will be dependent on weather and could go until the end of October.
“Things are headed upwards. I know that the (COVID-19) vaccines are rolling out. We have been working with SHA for the past year to make sure that we’re doing this correctly,” she said.
“Our customers’ health and safety is our top priority.
“We’re taking all the precautions to be sure of that. On top of that, we know that people are itching to get out. I’m tired of the pandemic … so we’re here to host that as safely as we possibly can.”
Under current public health measures, the bike’s 15-passenger capacity will be cut down to eight.
“We’ve got Plexiglas on the bike to separate one guest from the other guest. Guests will be seated with one seat between each guest,” Hannotte said.
“We’re sanitizing the bike.”
Once loaded, customers will be briefed on safety policies and code of conduct before cruising downtown Saskatoon where they’ll get off and have time to enjoy beverages at local pubs.
“We’re really hoping to partner with a lot of local breweries, local pubs, we really want to support all that Saskatchewan is,” Hannotte said.
Currently, Saskatchewan law would prevent Pedal Pub from serving alcohol on the bike but Hannotte has high hopes for the future.
“Calgary … (was) the first Pedal Pub in Canada,” Hannotte said. “Calgary actually worked very hard and they actually ended up changing a few policies.”
“They’re able to have alcohol on the bikes but it was a process to go through.
“We are working on it but it’s a process … conversations in the works.”
Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority (SLGA) said in a statement to Global News that it’s aware of a business planning to operate a pedal pub.
“If no alcohol is served or consumed (just biking to licensed establishments), there would be no permit required from SLGA. If such a business was planning to sell/serve alcohol on the bike, a permit would be required,” read the SLGA statement.
“Since current regulations do not include licensing of any type of bicycle, regulatory amendments would be required before such a permit could be issued.”
Hannotte added their trained pilots will have “complete” control of steering the bike when it is in operation.
In a statement to Global News, Tourism Saskatoon said experiences like this enhance the visitor economy in the city.
“As new experiences begin to open and expand in our community, there will be an economic benefit to other tourism and hospitality business,” read the statement.
“The Pedal Pub will encourage a deeper understanding of the craft beverage industry in our city, with locals and with travellers visiting Saskatoon.”
Located in downtown Saskatoon at 340 Ave. A South, Pedal Pub plans to start doing tours on the Volkswagen-made bike on June 1.
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