Ancien Café & Cycles, with its bright red-and-blue-painted brick exterior, is now officially open at 1558 E. 53rd Street beneath the Metra stop – the latest addition to the area’s growing retail and dining corridor.
The store name reflects the title given to those who complete the grueling, 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race in less than 90 hours, and co-owner Scott McIntosh is a two-time finisher. Some people say the name as “Ahn – Cee – An,” with the French pronunciation, but most Mid-westerners, including McIntosh, prefer to call it “Ain – Chen.”
The Hyde Park space, formerly the site of the 53rd Street Bicycle Center, is Ancien’s second location – McIntosh and partners Chris Dimmick and Chris Anderson opened their first location at 688 N. Milwaukee Avenue in the West Town neighborhood in early 2014.
“We’re proud to be in Hyde Park,” said McIntosh. “This is both a historic and developing neighborhood with an active and diverse community. We see an untapped market both for active people and health conscious eaters, and the proximity to the lakefront is unparalleled in the city.”
The company’s tag line, “Food. Drink. Motion…” refers to the goal of creating an environment that includes great food, coffee and tea, while supporting and encouraging an active lifestyle – whether on a bike or not. The space is a combination café with healthy food and beverage options and a bicycle studio, with a variety of bicycles, cycling accessories, and expert repair services available. Bicycle brands offered at the store include Bianchi, Moots, Scott, Tern, and Velo Orange, with Schwinn bicycles for children.
Ancien’s focus on hospitality includes the entire family – the inviting space has high chairs, books, toys, and activities for children. On the bike side, the store offers a unique bicycle buying program called “Trikes to Bikes.” Customers participating in the program may return a children’s bicycle purchased at the shop up to 18 months after purchase and receive up to 50 percent of the cost they paid for the original bike to put toward the next sized bicycle for their child.
Ancien’s café menu will continuously evolve, with an emphasis on serving a variety of healthful foods geared to the active lifestyles of guests. Fresh daily offerings will be prepared on site, with both vegan and vegetarian menu items. Breakfast and lunch will be served daily with both “to go” and dine in options. For breakfast, a variety of pastries, bagels, sandwiches, and homemade granola are offered. A selection of homemade sandwiches, soups, and salads will be available daily for lunch and snacks.
The café serves a signature blend of coffee from Big Shoulders Coffee, a local, award-winning, artisan coffee roaster, and McIntosh is even rolling out his personal recipe for chai tea, to be named the PBP Chai. Ancien provides catering services with platters for 8, 16, and 24 people, ideal for breakfast and lunch as well as after work events. Both Ancien locations are also available to host special events.
In addition to his many cycling related accomplishments, McIntosh has an equally impressive hospitality resume – having worked at the House of Blues, Chicago; Wave at the W Chicago - Lakeshore Hotel; Fountainhead; Michael Jordan’s Steak House Chicago, Pecking Order: A Chicken House; and Carnivale. Through his hospitality network, McIntosh met Kristine Subido, the acclaimed Chicago chef who developed Ancien’s notable café menu.
Dimmick brings over twenty years of experience within the cycling industry to the Ancien concept. For 15 years he was the general manager of Turin Bicycles in Evanston – a top 100 retailer in the United States. He later transitioned into a role as athlete coordinator for Lake Cycling shoes, working closely with sponsored athletes including 2008 Tour De France champion, Carlos Sastre. For the past four years, Dimmick was the director of International Sales for the Canadian bicycle brand Opus.
Rounding out the team, Anderson provides a solid background in the hospitality and live music industry in Chicago. Over the years, he has worked for a number of local venues such as Tommy Nevins Group, The Green Mill, and The Fulton Art Collective as a talent buyer and event specialist. With an outstanding reputation in the Chicago and national music scene, Anderson brings considerable experience to Ancien’s many special events and music offerings.
Ancien's formal ribbon-cutting event is Tuesday, March 1, at 5:30 p.m. – it will be an all-day celebration with special coupons and menu sampling. Business hours are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. -5 p.m., with extended hours in the summer. Customers who are pressed for time can preorder breakfast or lunch by calling 773- 947-0735.