“It started as a bike shop with a restaurant attached,” Kai Musseau says with a smile, “and it turned into a restaurant with a bike shop attached.”
Musseau sits at one of the wooden benches inside Wheelies Motorcycles, a vintage bike repair shop and adjoining eatery in Victoria’s industrial Rock Bay neighbourhood. As head of the cafe side, Musseau has seen the business morph over the years into something entirely community-driven. From the craft beer to the ethical meat to the live music, Wheelies has a lot going for it, and as such it has become a hub for locals of all ages.
As Africanos—basically halfway between an Americano and a latte—are brought to the table, Musseau mentions how it’s just as likely to see a foodie or a couple in their sixties here as it is to see a biker. With garage doors that open up to the wood-covered patio (complete with hanging string lights) which doubles as a stage, Wheelies feels like the kind of hidden hangout every neighbourhood should have.
While owner Joel Harrison works away in the garage, repairing mostly vintage Harley Davidsons and British bikes (but also doing custom fabrication and upholstery), Musseau runs the food and beverage show and takes care of booking musical acts. There is a definite emphasis on local in every aspect here. “I try to use as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible,” says Musseau. “We don’t go through any big companies.” That means meat comes from a family butcher shop and coffee is roasted a block and a half away. The menu, comprised mostly of sandwiches, changes seasonally, but one thing that will never leave is The Pork: local pork shoulder braised in root beer for 15 hours, piled onto an organic and perfectly chewy ciabatta bun with spinach, pickled carrot and daikon, and an unforgettable chimichurri aioli. Pair it with a side salad (kale, pickles, chickpeas, fried shallots, spicy harissa tahini vinaigrette) or mac and cheese (a big hit with the little ones) or soup that changes daily. On top of that, find cocktails, a rotating assortment of craft beer, and ice cream sandwiches.
Though now operating as restaurant-forward, Wheelies stays true to its motorcycle roots with Friday bike nights, which see 30 to 50 bikes park in the large lot while their drivers eat and socialize.
Bridging the motorbike, craft beer, and foodie communities, Wheelies breaks down barriers—and has a heck of a good time doing it.
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