“We’re not trying to be a jerk bike shop,” says David Archard.
As someone who generally avoids bike shops, and “jerk” bike shop employees as well, preferring to slip quietly in and out of low-key co-ops like Missing Link, that’s good to hear. In other words, I’m Archard’s target customer for Luckyduck, a soon-to-open bike shop, café and “social club” in downtown Oakland.
According to the company website, Luckyduck aims to “focus on self-actualized education, camaraderie, and general bicycle advocacy” in an environment that combines the services and products of a bike shop with the “positive and relaxed vibes found in a coffee shop or beer garden. No pretension or pressure.”
Luckyduck is a passion project for Archard and his partner, Aaron Wacks, who bonded over their love of bikes while living together in a West Oakland art warehouse. They launched Luckyduck as an online blog and shop called Wheelhouse Oakland, but the project was re-named after learning of another similar project, called The Wheelhouse, in Los Angeles.
A third partner, Jimmy Ryan, joined the team two years ago.
Archard has been building custom bikes since 2010 and selling them through Brazen Bicycles. Brazen bikes are built from used steel bike frames and restyled to suit the customer’s measurements, use for the bike, and style requirements. He will continue to sell Brazen bikes through Luckyduck’s bike shop, but they will not be the primary focus. Instead, Archard and Wacks will offer a broad range of used bikes encompassing a wide price range. Other than the repurposed custom builds, they will not sell any new bikes. “There are plenty of used bikes out there [people should be riding],” said Archard.
More importantly for the two, selling lower-cost used bikes helps to keep the shop accessible to the biggest range of customers. “We want to cater to underserved populations, like women, people of color, Oakland locals,” said Archard.
That’s where the café comes in. Archard said that the café will make the space more versatile and welcoming. “We want people to come in and not be pressured to know about bikes or talk about bikes,” he said. “We want a space that feels comfortable, so it’s not like when you go into a bike shop and [the employees] are like, ‘Why are you here?’”
“We want people to come here to find people with similar interests,” said Wacks. “We want people to meet over a handshake instead of on the internet.”
Luckyduck’s food will be simple, said Wacks. The café portion of the space does not have a hood, so they’ll be cooking with a panini press and a convection oven.
The focus will be on sandwiches made with interesting ingredients, but they won’t be super fancy. “You can’t get a good deli sandwich around here,” said Ryan. That’s what he and the rest of the team want to offer — think tuna melts or a roast beef with blue cheese.
Notably, however, most of the offerings will be meat-free. The Luckyduck team is working on developing vegetarian and vegan options that are far more creative than the average hummus and sprouts on rye. Ryan and Wacks are currently throwing around ideas like a jalapeño popper grilled cheese, a vegan chili dog with cashew cheese, and a vegan twist on pulled pork using jackfruit.
Alongside all orders will be, according to Ryan, “some sort of interesting pickle.” They’ve been working with a chef friend from Gather in Berkeley to develop a lineup of various fermented vegetables, which they’ll also serve as an assorted vegetable “charcuterie”-like platter.
A few salads and breakfast items from local purveyors such as Authentic Bagels will round out the food menu.
On the drinks side, Luckyduck will have local beer, wine and cider, as well as coffee and espresso drinks courtesy of Red Bay Coffee. It will open with four standard beer taps, a nitro beer tap and a nitro tap used exclusively for cold brew coffee. Ryan hopes to double up the beer taps over time.
As is standard for most new cafés, Archard, Wacks and Ryan plan to source as many local ingredients as possible, and they hope to keep things affordable. Wacks said he would like to keep everything on the menu under $10.
The team expects much of Luckyduck’s daytime food business to come from local office workers, especially from the café’s building, which is populated mostly by tech workers and architects. “The office workers have been bugging the owners forever to add a café in this space,” said Ryan.
Indeed, when the café opens, the team plans to focus on breakfast and lunch hours. They will eventually add evening and nighttime hours. Archard said he would like for Luckyduck to stay open until 10 p.m. most evenings for those who want to come in for a few beers. “We’re going to be more alcohol-heavy than a basic café,” he said.
In the evenings, the bike shop will close and make room for a small performance area towards the back of the café.
Wacks said that he hopes Luckyduck will open in mid-August, pending health inspections.