The Wheelhouse, Downtown Los Angeles

A new hub for bicycle culture, coffee and community stocked with vintage-inspired bikes and accessories

Tami and Chase Spenst wanted to build a one-stop shop for the everyday bicycle rider. After finding a space in the heart of Los Angeles’ creative community, they designed a warm and approachable indoor/outdoor space (with a service center and coffee bar) and filled it with vintage-inspired bicycles and accessories. Just opened last month in DTLA’s Factory Place is the Spenst’s two-story 3,700 square foot shop The Wheelhouse.

Designed by Tami (who has her own design company called Pluck), the interior boasts the exposed beams and concrete surfaces of the industrial warehouse. Wood surfaces, an olive tree and seating by Yeah! Furniture help make the space feel like a cozy clubhouse. The custom signage and menu board for the coffee bar looks like a train station schedule. Tami also designed an eye-catching installation on the wall flanking the staircase that celebrates bike culture. There, black bikes appear to be riding though the wall at various depths (Platform Nine and Three-Quarters style).

With a mission to focus on everyday bicycle riders, The Wheelhouse sells Handsome Cycles from Minneapolis, Heritage Bicycles from Chicago, Surly Bikes from Bloomington and Rivendell Bicycle Works from Walnut Creek, California. “We wanted to carry all vintage-inspired bikes. Everything is steel-frame,” Chase tells us. “We wanted to have an entry-level bike for the person who is just starting their bicycle lifestyle. We have the next level bike for when you have been riding and now you want to substitute your car for the commuter, the longer distance, and urban city riding. For the bicycle adventurer, for bike packing and bike camping, and taking their vacation on their bicycle, we have those bikes that can be equipped and set up with bags.”

They stock their retail space with bags and accessories to make small and large adventures more convenient, comfortable and good looking. For farmers market trips, picnics and errands, they carry House of Talents bike baskets, hand-woven in Ghana. Tami also received so many compliments on her fabric-covered Yakkay helmet from Copenhagen that she knew she wanted to carry them, while for a more moto-inspired look, they also stock Bern helmets. Also on offer are bags by Topo Designs, Rivendell and Anhaica.

Downstairs in the shop, they have set up a quick-fix stand. “When people roll in with a flat, we will put it up on the stand, they can grab a drink, and when their drink is done they roll away,” explains Tami. The coffee bar features Olympia Coffee Roasters (from Washington state) and LA’s own August Uncommon Tea served in ceramic cups made by husband-and-wife team A Question of Eagles. Alongside all the bags, blankets, shirts, and gadgets, they also sell coffee brewing equipment for anyone who might want to make a pour-over while they are out and about. Upstairs is a full-service department in a loft space.

The Wheelhouse already feels like it is part of the neighborhood fabric. Locals are coming back day after day for their morning cup of coffee and conversation. “I want to make biking more like when I was a kid,” says Chase. “It should be fun.”

The Wheelhouse is located at 1375 East 6th Street, LA. Coffee hours are 7AM-5PM, while retail and service is open 10AM-6M.

Images courtesy of Skandia Shafer