Friends and cyclists combine the bikes and coffee business model on Main Street

CG Bikes plans to open with Downshift Coffee, a new cafe in Belfast

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 11:30am

    BELFAST—Opening a new business is stressful enough without it being smack in the middle of a pandemic.

    But, CG Bikes owner Chris Gardner and business associate, Nathaniel Baer, are taking it in stride and using the extra time to get all of the finishing touches done on the side-by-side businesses on Main Street.

    Gardner had opened CG Bikes beneath the United Farmer’s Market last year and decided the time had come to put the bike shop in a visible place with more foot traffic.

    “When the space on Main Street opened up, it was a big enough space to accommodate another business, and I knew that Nathaniel had some interest in starting a specialty coffee shop,” he said. “I’ve seen the bike and coffee shop model in other places around the country. There once was a Bikes ‘n Java in Rockland, but I think we’re the only one doing this in the Midcoast now. It’s a good way to create a nice, community atmosphere.”

    “When we open we hope it will create a bit of buzz in town—pun intended.”

    -Chris Gardner, owner CG Bikes

    Gardner said repairs and rentals are the biggest part of their business with a small expansion into selling more bicycles and accessories.

    “We sell mostly bikes for the casual rider, and for road enthusiasts, especially gravel road bikes,” he said. “That's a pretty fast-growing industry with people looking to get off busy roads and onto dirt roads.”

    The plan was originally to open March 19. Gardner said they’ve been adapting to COVID-19 precautions.

    “Since we do have a food service business under the same roof, we’ve decided just do pick-ups and deliveries for now and it’s been working. We’ve done several deliveries right to people’s doors. We’re finding a way to scratch by.”

    Downshift Coffee is planned for the other side of the retail space.

    “I’m a long-time cyclist myself and thought it would make a great joint venture to go with CG Bikes,” said Baer. “Downshift has a few meanings; obviously the bicycle reference, but also it means to slow down, take a break, and simplify.”

    “It’s definitely been a mix of emotions,” said Baer, of the delays caused by the pandemic. “I’m still very excited to launch the coffee shop. We’re thrilled with the space we’re in and being part of the joint business of the bike shop. We’ll have everything completely ready by the time the restrictions are lifted.”

    Baer said that the cafe name is also the brand of the coffee that he personally roasts.

    “We’ll have a house espresso roast, a rotating roast, a house drip blend, decaf, and we’ll do pour-over coffee. We’ll have a range of excellent coffee beverages all using the beans we roast ourselves.”

    Stay tuned for the grand opening at:

    Kay Stephens can be reached at