Ride In Café: the perfect place to refuel your body and mind
Megan28 Sep, 2022
If your idea of unwinding means hitting the cycling trails, then Ride In Café is a place that should be on your radar. Nestled in the Jonkershoek Valley, the family-run cafe provides a tranquil space for those looking a moments break in the city.
The idyllic cafe was opened in 2013 by Brit and Gavin King. While the cafe didn’t turn out as the couple had originally planned, it’s still the perfect hangout spot for those with adventure on their wheels.
Ride In Café boasts a range of cycling amenities, including cycle guides, free shower blocks, a bike workshop and spare parts. Avid cyclists can freshen up after their morning ride, while those without equipment can rent a bike and tour the neighbouring areas before settling down to enjoy delicious refreshments.
We caught up with Brit to learn more about Ride In Café, and to discover how it gained traction.
Where did you get the idea for Ride In Café?
Gavin grew up in the UK and started cycling from a young age. He often headed to a local cycling cafe to find groups to ride with. We wanted to recreate the same vibe, a place where you could always find someone to exercise with. It didn’t quite work out the way we had planned, but we love what it has grown to be.
How different is the café compared to what you had hoped it would be?
We built the shower block thinking people would come to us pre-work, shower and go on, but the shower facilities are not used nearly as much as we had imagined.
We were initially open from 6am every day with breakfast ready for 6.30am, but we did a lot of waiting around. We tried boot camps, yoga, and silent discos. We also did evening rides with dinner afterwards, but none of these things took off. Instead of being the cycle café we thought we would be – where you can arrive by yourself, not know any trails, join a group and go off – we have turned into a post-ride family hang out, which is great.
When we first opened, we had just moved to Stellenbosch; we weren’t married and didn’t have kids. So the café has grown with our relationship and family, and it’s worked out perfectly.
It took a while for you to entice people to the café. What did you do to attract customers?
We did a lot of advertising. We stood on the road on weekends, asking people to come in and try us. Our name, in hindsight, was not a good idea. None of the cyclists thought it might be a place for them. We had a couple of days where teams of people on horseback rocked up, thinking it was an equestrian hangout due to the name.
Our gardens are now abundant, but when we first opened, everything was just planted and didn’t have the secret garden feel it has now. It was a long, tough road, but it’s been worth it.
How has your business evolved over the years?
We have become a hangout, a home away from home. People sit around sharing stories of their runs, hikes or rides in the beautiful nature reserve. We have doggies playing all over our lush, colourful gardens. There’s a huge selection of birds chirping in the background, with children laughing and everyone enjoying our food.
You grow most of your produce and try to source everything else locally; why is this important to you?
It’s so rewarding eating what you grow. We have awful soil on the farm, so it’s not easy to grow as much as we would like, but I love planting and growing, so for me, it’s such a privilege and enjoyment.
I put masses of herbs in all my cooking at home, so we go through so much, and it’s such an easy money saver to grow them yourself. Same with the spinach and kale, they are so easy to grow and having them fresh and knowing what has or has not been sprayed on them is brilliant. Our boys are so into growing now too, which I love. Planting seeds and learning about the different herbs, smells and flavours is such a simple pleasure.
Read more: Up Cycles: a fun way to explore the city
How do you decide on your menu?
We have gone back to seasonality. We have the staples we are known for: our Buttermilk battered chicken burger, the Ride In burger, our scrambled egg and delicious pizzas, but we have decided to start doing weekly changes to a few items. This not only helps the kitchen stay excited about what they are doing as they get to play with different ingredients that are in season but also gives fresh new options for our customers.
What values drive your business, and how do these play out in your day-to-day operations?
We’re a family-oriented operation. Our children have grown up in the café, as have so many others. We also pride ourselves on offering a friendly, welcoming and good service.
How have you incorporated SnapScan into your business?
I think we were one of your guinea pigs ten years ago. SnapScan is so great. So many of our customers come to us midway through their exercise. Lycra doesn’t give you many options for carrying wallets and money, but everyone has their phone on them. Card machines are often offline with slow internet or loadshedding, but SnapScan is quick and easy, which helps us process orders quicker.
What has been the biggest highlight of your journey?
Watching the families grow as we have, the relationships we’ve made with our regulars, and seeing how the café has morphed from one dream to another are some highlights of our journey.
What are your plans for the Ride In Café‘s future?
To keep plugging on and remain part of the communities ritual.
Need to unwind after a hectic week? Head to Ride In Café and explore all they have to offer. For now, follow them on Instagram to keep up with their happenings.
Want to share your business’ SnapScan story with us? Send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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