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Fuel up with Bike Caffe

With just a bike and some fresh coffee, Michael Ash makes a living on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg.

On most weekdays, Bike Caffe can be found in the lobby of the BB&T building on Central Avenue and 4th Street. The cart is complete with an array of coffee drinks (iced and hot), pastries, fresh fruit and some of the best prices in town.

Michael Ash mans the mobile coffee station as the owner and sole barista.

Bike Caffe is a franchise that allows individuals to take part in a "truly unique coffee experience." After years of planning and contracting with 100% Fair Trade coffee producers, Bike Caffe was born. Founder of Bike Caffe, Will Shakesheff, wanted to combine his love for both coffee and the world into one, successful business. That’s exactly what he did.

When Michael Ash heard about the small Bike Caffe franchise, he was sold from day one. “The fact that you can change locations is great,” said Ash.

Originally, however, Ash wanted to open his own restaurant. After earning his degree in hotel management and business, it seemed like the appropriate career to pursue. Ash said that he has always been in the hospitality industry, whether it was as on the floor or as a manager.

Instead of jumping the gun and taking a leap of faith with his own restaurant, Ash explored his options and up popped Bike Caffe. He said the main draw was the mobile aspect of the idea.

“I can move around, depending on where things are happening,” Ash said. “Being able to change locations is great.”

On weekdays, Ash is usually at 360 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. However, if there are events happening on the weekend elsewhere, he packs up his mobile coffee shop and heads out. Ash sets up at many shows and festivals in the Tampa Bay area, which maximizes his business.

Bike Caffe is Ash’s only source of income and his first venture as an owner of a business. He clocks about 50 hours per week, but said that he would not have it any other way.

“It’s definitely different,” said Ash of being his own boss. “But right now, I think it’s all really cool.”

August will mark Ash’s first full year in business. He said that his goal is to expand in 2013 with one or two more bikes on the street and maybe a few employees. “I would like to stick with it,” said Ash.

Find out where Ash will be by following Bike Caffe, St. Pete on Facebook. 

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