Looking for a great destination within a short bike ride of downtown Minneapolis? Head down Glenwood Avenue and in about 10 minutes you will find a bright red building with a mural on the side. As you walk into the cozy shop you will hear the beats coming from vintage records; then your eye drifts over to the left and you find the coffee bar, where among your options are a cold smoothie, hot tea, or the pour over, which is a cup of coffee made one cup at a time just for you. Then you see the bikes for sale, and now you know you are in one cool place.
Venture North has a unique position in North Minneapolis; it is one of the few coffee shops on this side of the city, where bike repair and sale businesses are even more rare and they tie it all together with a youth empowerment service. The youth programs are the heart of Venture North: the staff take in youth and train them as bicycle mechanics and toss in some sales and customer relation skills as well.
The empowerment programs and classes include the following: All About Bikes is the bike mechanic apprenticeship program for youth ages 15-23; Pedal Power is a special program for girls ages 10-12; Earn a Bike is a safety and basic repair school for ages 6-12, and upon completion of the program the youth get to keep the bike they fixed. There are also day camp programs and more educational courses in the works.
Casey Pavek, the manager, is truly skilled in all aspects of bicycle building and repair. He and mechanic Jody Chandler work on the bikes that come in and teach the young people to be well skilled in repair. But all work and no play wouldn’t be fun, so there are some comfy couches and chairs for you to relax on as you drink your coffee and listen to the tunes playing on the vinyl—as they were meant to be heard .
If you would like to help the youth programs, Venture North is always taking donations of bikes and parts in good condition, as there are a large number of youth waiting to train in the program and there is a constant need for repairable bikes. If you have a good working bike you would like to donate, they will take those as well since the proceeds that come from bike sales fund the programs and shop. And for those who have old records needing a new home, they accept those as well. Casey says they especially need more funk.
So take a trip on Glenwood west of downtown and make Venture North a stop on your journey for good coffee, bike repairs, and a nice place to hang out.
Read Venture North Bike Walk Coffee opening soon in North Minneapolis (Eric Blom, 2011).