At Cafe + Velo, Jeff Demetriou gives cyclists a comfortable place to relax, unwind and refuel
If you’re an avid cyclist in Atlanta, chances are you’ve heard of Cafe+Velo. The coffee shop on Edgewood Avenue is an homage to the longstanding tradition of French bicycle cafes, where patrons pedal to their local coffee spot, rest their bikes beside their tables and sip on a coffee while enjoying a croissant al fresco.
In a city where cycling as a lifestyle is still coming to fruition, Jeff Demetriou, an abstract artist and mixed media designer, has created Atlanta’s first bicycle cafe. He teamed up with co-owner Ben Boisson of BeltLine Bicycle to create the Cafe+Velo concept in the fall of 2016.
“Food and coffee are not that serious,” says Demetriou. “You can do both really well. Cafe+Velo is less about pretense and more about community.”
Before this latest venture, Demetriou’s influence was big in Atlanta’s art community. He created several murals around town, including a 30-foot design in the conference room of Google’s Atlanta office, and a 25,000-square-foot mural on the base of the American Cancer Society building downtown that takes up half a city block. Demetriou also ran a design and build company in Atlanta for 10 years, and his work focused on modern residential design. In one project, he added the first green roof solar panels to a residence in Atlanta.
Now, Cafe+Velo is Demetriou’s sole project, which he calls a form of community art. He designed and built the entire cafe with techniques from his background, utilizing aesthetics that are familiar to cyclists, including historic cycling photos and bike parts. “I’m sites pecific when I do projects, and that dictated to me how the space should be,” he says. “Everything is curated here. Nothing is arbitrary, from the photos on the wall to the size of the patio and the covered rooftop, and even the names of the menu items.” “The Schwinn” (an egg and cheddar crandwich— or croissant sandwich), and “The Bianchi” (a turkey, cheddar, bacon and lettuce crandwich) are both well-known cycling manufacturers.
As an avid cyclist, Demetriou uses his bike to get around town from his home in Old Fourth Ward but bemoans the lack of destinations that cater to riders. “I know a few rare restaurants, but you are hardpressed to find places that even have bike racks available,” he says.
Demetriou bridged the gap, offering more space on the bike rack than street parking for cars. Cafe+Velo has become a hub for cycling communities, with an on-site repair station, bike rentals and group rides starting and ending there. Classic cycling races, such as the Tour de France, are shown live on the cafe’s projection screen. The patio is the largest real estate at the café, offering multiple tables and a sofa nook on the rooftop’s own patio, and will be utilized throughout the summer for events, including pop-up craft markets at the end of each month and live music on the adjacent covered rooftop.
Beyond being a welcoming spot for cyclists, Demetriou wanted the cafe to create a community destination, with good food and drinks at affordable prices. His visionary in the kitchen, Boisson is a native of Brittany, France, and came up with the crandwich. The homemade croissant sandwiches are offered with a variety of sweet and savory fillings and a top price of $8.75. With limited space in its kitchen, Cafe+Velo sticks to what it does well, serving filling crandwiches alongside Octane coffee during the breakfast and lunch hours, and closing before the nightlife begins on Edgewood Avenue.
“Atlanta needs more hangouts. Here, the idea is to have affordable food and drink tied into a fun atmosphere that is inclusive and uninhibited,” says Demetriou.
Cafe + Velo
381 Edgewood Ave. S.E., 30312
STORY: Alexa Lampasona
PHOTO: Erik Meadows