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Wheels of Fortune

Sister shops in Lakeview bring custom bikes to life—with a little caffeine to boost.
 

High-end bicycles and old-fashioned pleasures at Heritage General Store have been a sweet addition to Lake View.

Bikes and coffee—two words you don’t hear together very often. But, at Lakeview’s Heritage General Store and its new sister store, Heritage Littles (with kids’ bikes, a milk-and-cookie bar and a children’s photography studio), cycling and coffee go hand in hand.

Heritage and Heritage Littles don’t sell your typical bikes; they specialize in custom creations, made right here in Chicago, with costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. We adore the two-seated Tandem signature bike ($5,000), which takes about six weeks to build. Our favorite for kids is the Bennett balance bike ($450) in the Legacy edition with leather seat and handles.

One gentle way to describe this past winter: good for coffee, bad for bikes. But now that spring has arrived, cycling is taking center stage at Heritage once again.

“The tune-ups have begun to roll in as people are prepping their bikes to come out of hibernation,” says Melissa Salvatore, a professional children’s photographer who owns both shops with her husband, Mike. “The bike sales are, and will continue, to increase with the sunny days.”

Mike began his biking career in New York City, where he joined with friends to help launch Bowery Lane Bicycles, doing everything from assembly to sales to customer service. But, being born and raised right here in Chicago, once he and Melissa welcomed son Bennett, now 3, they wanted to return home and launch a business combining their passions: bikes, coffee and children’s photography.

Heritage opened in early 2012, Heritage Littles in fall 2013. And not only have the businesses contributed to the resurgence of Lincoln Avenue, both have become a bike-community hangout.

“We have the customers who only come in for the coffee, and, if you asked them, they would say we’re a coffee shop. And then vice versa,” says Melissa. “And there are those who take everything we have to offer and consider us their bike and coffee shop, and wouldn’t go anywhere else for either. Our biggest seller is the Flat Fix + Small Coffee deal, which we love because it is the exact blend of what we wanted in our space. You know, sit back and relax with some good coffee while your bike is being fixed, and then go enjoy the ride.”

Heritage General Store, 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.245.3005; Heritage Littles, 2868 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.242.9008