Jack Beisel is manager of See See Motor Coffee Co., a coffeehouse and motorcycle gear shop originally based in Portland, Ore. that opened a branch in Reno in November. His plans for the shop in 2017 include a liquor license, art shows and a Street Vibrations event. The shop is located at 131 Pine St. Also visit www.seeseemotorcycles.com.
What’s See See in Portland like?
It’s a hub. People go there to get their coffee every day. The retail side is full of people ordering parts and jackets and boots … and it’s just a great community space, rotating arts and rotating events on a monthly basis.
How’d motorcycles and coffee come together? I admit I’m still going by the stereotype of motorcycles pairing with domestic beer.
In Portland we serve beer also. We serve cheap, domestic beer and hot dogs. We like to remain delightfully unpretentious. We love motorcycles, and we love coffee, so the idea was bringing a community together. In Portland it rains nine months out of the year, so [the idea was] having a space and a place to go talk about motorcycles, plan trips, plan rides, and do so in a place that wasn’t club-based, that was open to any kind of rider. Any level of rider could come to See See and learn about a ride happening, or an event or whatever, and then you could get your coffee, go for a ride, and come back and have a hot dog and a beer after it was done, and go on with your day.
Did you end up attracting new people into motorcycling that way?
I think See See has been really good at opening the door to people who are interested in motorcycles. All of us have a passion that only if you ride you know. There’s something about two wheels with the wind in your face that is special. And so we try to be inclusive and open, so people can access what we know. Not that we know everything, we just like to have fun and ride motorcycles. But motorcycles can be really intimidating and exclusive, so creating a space where you can come check out the bikes and helmets and look at apparel and talk to people who do ride, it’s an easy way to open the door.
How has the store culture in Reno been different?
It was amazing. Our opening day we had like 30 motorcycles outside. It was overwhelming in the best possible way. I think that opening in the winter has been a little difficult for the motorcycle side, because it’s pretty cold to be riding right now. People still do. Almost every day we have someone come in on a bike. … The vibe in the café’s been really great. People come in to have coffee and breakfast sandwiches—the same as a bar. People hang out here.
I don’t see any Harley stuff. How would you describe which brand of motorcycle crowd comes here?
The affinity for the owners—and myself—tends to be in old Japanese motorcycles, old Yamahas and Hondas, and then also dirt bikes, KTMs, stuff like that. That’s the stuff that we like, the older Ducati bikes. We have a T-shirt that says, “Ride old stuff.” … But we’re not exclusive to anyone. I love Harley Davidson. I’ve owned a couple of them, and they’re fun as hell to ride. But in the store right now, we’re featuring bikes that have been custom-built for show. So the bike that’s up on the rack right there was a project bike with See See and another builder in Portland. This one on the floor right here, this white one, was a race bike for Drake McElroy, who’s kind of my partner on this ship, running the moto side of things. It was a motocross bike for jumping, and over the years got changed, and now it’s a semi-cafe racer.