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The Pub Hits the Road

It sounds like the wackiest idea ever: A bar on wheels powered by brew-pounding pedalers.
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This story appears in the December 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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The PedalPub
The PedalPub
Photo© Jeff Clark

Entrepreneurs: Eric Olson and Al Boyce, dedicated home brewers with day jobs--Olson teaches business at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., and Boyce is a computer programmer for U.S. Bank in St. Paul, Minn.

What Possessed Them: A fellow home brewer e-mailed Olson a photo of a crazy-looking pub on wheels in Europe. "I said, ‘Damn, this is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life.'" He tracked down the creators--brothers Henk and Zwier van Laar in (where else?) Amsterdam--and asked how to make one. They sold him one instead.

"Aha" Moment:: In 2007, they got the first PedalPub rolling and sent e-mails out to friends and family, expecting a mild reaction. "But our e-mail list started to explode," Olson says. "And that's when I had the first inkling that this might be really successful."

Startup: Savings and home-equity loans covered the $40,000 to buy their first PedalPub, plus $20,000 to buy a van, a trailer, insurance, storage and marketing materials.

Pedalmania: Olson and Boyce have six PedalPubs in the Twin Cities, one in Houston, plus licensees in Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Lawrence, Kan., and Milwaukee; plus, one sold to Amstel Light.

Customers: Birthday parties, corporate events, even a wedding. Most are women--68 percent.

Vital Stats: PedalPubs weigh 2,340 pounds empty (without beer or drinkers) and have a top speed of 5 mph. They seat 10 pedalers, a bartender and a driver and rent for $160 to $190 per hour, BYOB.

2011 and Beyond: They plan to franchise the concept next year. Says Olson, "I'd love to see 500 of these things all over the country."

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