The dining scene in Hamilton is even more unique thanks to Brandon Love, who decided in his spare time (between working in the restaurant industry and owning a leather accessories company) to create Bike Appetit. Drawing on Hamilton’s cycling culture and food frenzy, Bike Appetit offers the city’s first food + bike tours. Brunch tours ($55) and three-course dinner tours ($80) are available for groups of ten riders and two guides. Each course is enjoyed at a different location, but riders don’t know where they’re visiting or what they’ll be eating until they get there. Even the meeting spot isn’t revealed until three days before to add an element of mystery to the foodie experience.
Brunch tours are approximately two hours long and dinner tours are three hours. Each tour includes a cocktail, plus a SoBi credit for the set-up fee and ride time. Any restaurant accessible via the SoBi network is fair game for tours. Riders can build up an appetite, indulge at some of Hamilton’s hottest restaurants, and work off the calories all while experiencing Hamilton’s Bike Share program under sunny skies. Intrigued, we caught up with Brandon Love to discuss his restaurant-hopping creation.
You were inspired to create Bike Appetit after biking in Europe. What were some of your favourite cities to explore by bike?
When I was in Europe we didn’t participate in any organized tours, we just created our own experience by biking all over the place making stops along the way. The inspiration came from sharing these stories with a friend over a beer at Brux House and saying how it would be cool to do something similar in Hamilton. My favourite city to explore via bike was definitely Berlin. There was so much diverse architecture and history to take in with beautiful beergardens to stop at to have a drink and bite to eat.
It was a great idea to partner with SoBi for this. Were you always a big bike rider and SoBi fan yourself?
Thanks. It definitely has been the ideal partnership. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit but I’d actually never been on a SoBi bike until the first tour.
Loving our squad shirts courtesy of @truehamiltonian #bikeappetit #hamont A photo posted by bikeappetit (@bikeappetit) on
What are some of your top cycling areas in the city?
I love checking out the homes on Homewood Avenue as well as biking Locke St. One of the best experiences of running the tours is getting to cycle through areas that you realize you may never have explored on your own.
You got your idea up and running pretty quickly. What was the process like to make it all come together?
Yeah it was quite a sprint to pull it off in such a short amount of time. My first tweet was a test to see if there was any interest in the concept. I sent that out on May 31st and decided to go for it after a wave of positive feedback. As for the process there was building the website, setting up the partnership with SoBi, establishing relationships with the restaurants, and designing the menu/routes. It was a pretty chaotic month but the launch went smoothly so it was all worth it.
You’re originally from Burlington. Why was Hamilton the place to do this?
The vision for the tour was always to have it in Hamilton. With so many unique restaurants and neighbourhoods, I couldn’t think of a better city for something like this. Hamiltonians are really celebrating their food culture and bringing so many amazing things to the table. I forget exactly where I read it but someone said “food is the new steel” and I really believe it has been quite a dramatic leap towards Hamilton becoming a food destination.
Now that the first tours are over (with a pretty cool name for Sunday’s brunch I might add: BBB Benny & The Bikes), can you tell us how it all went down?
So the first tours actually happened a little earlier in the week on Wednesday and Saturday evening, however, the brunch kick-off was Sunday morning. These three tours have had group sizes ranging from 8-12 riders. The dinner tour route was Toast Wine Bar -> Aberdeen Tavern -> AMO Gelato & the brunch tour was Dundurn Market -> Radius -> AMO Gelato. From the feedback I’ve received it sounds like people really enjoyed the experience of riding the bikes, trying new restaurants and menu items, and meeting new people on the tours. When you put groups of strangers together, you’re never quite sure how everyone is going to interact but so far everyone has gotten along great and been really engaged in the conversations with the group.
Can you give any clues about the restaurants or dishes people can expect for future rides?
They’ll just have to wait and see. I promise it will be delicious though.
What’s in store for Bike Appetit after the summer months?
The plan is to keep tours running a couple times a week for as long as demand exists and weather permits. Once it cools off we’ll go into hibernation and relaunch next summer.
Taste the revolution and embark on a flavourful adventure with Bike Appetit.