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Rapha Cycling Club To Take Over 'High Fidelity' Spot In Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | August 26, 2016 7:45am
 Future home of Rapha Cycling Club in Wicker Park.
Future home of Rapha Cycling Club in Wicker Park.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Rapha, a London-based cycling apparel brand, plans to open a store/cafe hybrid called Rapha Cycling Club in the spot that once was the backdrop for "High Fidelity" in Wicker Park, according to a construction permit and an online job posting seeking baristas.

The construction permit, issued to Rapha Racing on July 24, calls for the renovation of a 2,992-square-foot retail storefront at 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave, according to permit listings.

In addition to the permit, an online job posting says Rapha is hiring baristas for its new Rapha Cycle Club Chicago, which it describes as an "innovative retail environment for an individual with an equal passion for cycling and coffee."

Located on the northwest corner of Honore and Milwaukee avenues, the storefront once served as part of the exterior set for cult movie "High Fidelity," starring Chicago native John Cusack.

Back in June, Derrick Lewis, Rapha's North American spokesman, called Chicago "a natural place for Rapha's next expansion."

"The region is home to some great history of American cycling, incredible pro races, and great cycling champions. We hope to honor the city and shine a spotlight on its contribution to the sport."

According to the job posting, the Rapha Cycle Club "will be a meeting place for road cyclists to share their love of the sport." The Club will show live road racing throughout the season and host its own events.

For the barista job, "experience in various methods of coffee preparation is expected. We will also serve a café menu with the finest quality produce, along with beer and wine," the job listing said.

Lewis declined to comment on the forthcoming store.  Folks interested in applying for the barista job can send an email to careers@rapha.cc, according to the ad.

Started in 2004, Rapha currently operates 10 cycling clubs, including one each in New York City and San Francisco.

In February, City Soles was evicted from 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave., after being the first tenant there in over a decade.

An executive with Newcastle Limited, which owns the commercial space, confirmed that there is a new tenant secured, but declined to comment further.

Lewis previously said that cycling clubs play an essential role in the vibrancy of a city's biking community.

"Like a golf course needs a clubhouse or ski resort needs a lodge, cycling needs a meeting place for its fans and participants," Lewis said, adding, "road cyclists have traditionally picked a random corner or maybe a cafe with a patio as their meet-up point to start group rides."

Rapha Cycle Club's members group, which has more than 6,000 participants from around the world who regularly meet for group rides, happy hours and weekend riding camps, are encouraged to make the stores their hangout.Cycling travelers who are members of the club can check out a bike for use instead of traveling with their own, and local members enjoy access to the store's fleet of high-end bicycles for out-of-town guests.

The fee to join is $200 for a 12-month membership, according to the Rapha website. Perks include free coffee at all cycle clubs, access to bicycle rentals, a subscription to Mondial Magazine, exclusive merchandise discounts and entry to events, weekly rides and monthly happy hours with complimentary beer.

Lewis said that there is already a solid group of RCC members in Chicago who are "very excited" to see Rapha arrive, as well as business partners and friends from last summer's Rapha Prestige Race pop-up outside of the city.

 Jerseys from Rapha's 2016 apparel line.
Jerseys from Rapha's 2016 apparel line.
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