The Hamilton Spectator
The bike fork hangs like a broken limb from the hoist in a Dundas bike repair shop.
Chad Grochowina, owner of Dundas Speed Shop, sees it all the time. In this instance, the owner drove into a parking garage forgetting his bike was on the roof.
Grochowina, a native of Lynden, opened his shop above Café Domestique with business partner Scott Kelly in January 2013. He was tired of his life on the road as a pro bike mechanic, travelling to races around the world.
“It was great when I was younger. It’s an awesome way to see the world, … but I was looking to plant some roots.”
Bikes hang from hooks and lean several deep against the walls in the small rooms of the upper floor of the former house on Miller Lane.
He repairs and maintains everything from the most “ridiculously expensive” competitive bikes to kids’ bikes from big-box stores. Grochowina says the industry has shifted rapidly. Low-cost parts are now readily available online, yet the suspension and electronic systems in modern bikes make repair jobs beyond the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers.
But some shops don’t want to install parts bought elsewhere.
“The larger bike stores have massive overheads and tons of money in expensive bike lines. They have to hit certain margins to keep the lights on.”
Grochowina says Café Domestique owner Krys Hines offers very reasonable rent and the two ventures are synergistic.
“There has always been a culture of cycling and coffee,” he said. “Dundas is central to a lot of great cycling.”
Hines agrees, though he says his four-year-old café is still chugging uphill. He introduces himself as the guy responsible for the debt at Café Domestique. It’s become a destination for cyclists, serving both coffee and alcohol, along with pastries, breakfast and sandwiches.
He and his family had moved from Toronto after falling for Dundas. Hines was commuting back to his job in Toronto when he saw a café for sale.
He’s got work experience both in the coffee business and as a bike mechanic, so the café seems to be a perfect fit. In fact, Hines was welding bikes together in his parents’ basement during high school.
“I knew I wasn’t a very good bike rider, but I was a good bike builder.”
The café is decorated with bike jerseys and race lanyards, and a copper-covered espresso machine from a former Olive Garden serves as a coffee table.
He used cafés in Toronto and Collingwood as inspirations.
“This is a place anyone should feel comfortable in.”
On a sunny spring weekday, two-thirds of the female podium in the Ancaster to Paris race are sipping coffee, alongside seniors and people holding a business meeting.
It’s a unique place, says Hines.
“We are known throughout the world for our little corner of Dundas.”
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