LOGAN SQUARE — A new pedicab service is rolling out in Logan Square and Avondale, just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
RoadieCab — so named for owner Robert Ashmore's previous life as a roadie for Ted Nugent, Kelly Clarkson and others — will be be hitting the streets in full force this weekend, after weeks of test runs and beta service.
Ashmore said he'll even be quitting his downtown 9-to-5 day job as a payroll manager to run the business.
It was a job he settled into for the past few years after his traveling roadie days had ended. Starting to feel restless, the native of Grand Rapids, Mich., thought of moving out west, but instead ended up starting RoadieCab.
"I just kind of wanted to go in my own direction," he said. "Through that process I've recommitted to Chicago — I love my neighborhood."
He and his wife have been living in Logan Square for the last four years, so it was a natural place to start the pedicab business.
The idea came to Ashmore when he made friends with a Dubliner who pointed out that pedicabs would likely be a hit on a strip of Milwaukee Avenue between California and Diversey avenues that has seen an influx of new bars and restaurants.
"I was thinking small business, I was thinking local, so it all just kind of came together for me," he said.
He also wanted to do something good for the community, so Ashmore said he will ask his riders to donate $1 from each of their shifts to the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm in Logan Square, which he expects will amount to $150 to $200 a month. He will then match that amount and donate it to a children's home in Ghana where he volunteered in 2011.
"That's what got me into small business, to help [the children's home] out," he said.
Ashmore said he then fell in love with an unusual-looking pedicab made by the Polish company AT Instytut.
Unlike other pedicabs that have the rider up front with passengers being pulled behind, the AT Instytut pedicabs have the the passengers up front.
"It really just caught my eye," he said. "It gives [the rider] flexibility to really be able to maneuver."
He ordered six — two green, two yellow, two red — and even got a special touch added to his pedicabs: four six-pointed stars in the front like those found on the Chicago flag.
"Everybody loves that feature," Ashmore said.
To start out, RoadieCab will focus on Logan Square and Avondale between Pulaski Road, Western Avenue, Addison Street and North Avenue, but Ashmore said he'll likely expand to Humboldt Park and already plans to offer service there during Riot Fest.
Rides will range from $5 to $7 in that inner Logan Square-Avondale zone, and go up for trips outside it. RoadieCab will also offer rentals for parties or weddings, with future plans to offer a "Taco Tour" and tours of area craft beer spots.