Blue Cat Motorcycle

Viva Midwest

Open Tuesday-Friday: 10AM-5PM | Saturday: 11AM-3PM | (651) 645-1172

Business up front, wrenches in back

Posted on 21 Jun 2011 in Shop News | 3 comments


Last week was Third Thursday, and it kind of snuck up on us. Not in the sense that we weren’t ready to party, just that it felt early. It’s a strangely-shaped month when you look at the calendar. Still, turnout was excellent and the good times rocked well into the night. The after-after-party even rolled on into the wee hours. For the main event, though, it was tacos and engine noise and lots of shiny bikes — just like we like it. The new shop has come together really nicely, and when everybody comes ’round to hang out, it makes us all the more proud to have our own place.

When we bought this old service station last autumn, it was certainly heavy on potential. It was a scramble to get moved out of our old Cretin Ave location and into our new digs here on Prior Ave. We then had to get the shop functional first and foremost so that we could keep working on customer bikes. Winter was on its way, so we also had to keep the space open for winter storage bikes. We cobbled together a reception area — the front room — and made do while we tended to more pressing matters. The shop exterior and signage got painted with terrific vintage flair. The work bays got painted with washable paint. Slowly, the working areas of the shop came together and the mechanics were able to find a good rhythm within the facility.

In late winter, we were finally able to double back and start on our front room. Believe it or not, we actually have a lot more in mind than just bike repair, restoration and customization. For example, we’re a Bell Helmets dealer. So you can get that perfect Custom 500 lid to go with your vintage moto. We’re just getting started with accessories and apparel, but before we can grow into those areas, we had to finish the front room. We had to create a showroom for that stuff and we had to create a space where we can interact with our customers that’s not in the mechanics’ way. Those renovations have taken up much of our Spring. Minus a couple odds and ends, we finally got to really show off the new front room last week at Third Thursday. It’s really satisfying to be able to show it to people as part of the shop tour. It almost goes without saying that we’re pretty proud of how it turned out and really grateful for all the hard work that went into it.

The space features a patchwork ceiling of solid panels coated in an iron-laden paint, then oxidized. This design, and the rest of our front room was the brainchild and loving labor of Jason Brown, of The Rust Brothers. It looks like there’s seven tons of steel hanging above our heads. Lighting and ventilation are a set of reproduction pieces in a great Dieselpunk aesthetic. The centerpiece of the room is the front desk, which features a textured brown countertop built around an old glass display case with a lot of history. This particular case served in several local motorcycle shops back in the day, including the Twin Cities’ original Triumph dealer. We like to think that some of the old british stuff that rolls into our garage is familiar to the old display case from its dealership. “Good t’ see ya again, Charlie. Y’r paint is lookin’ good, ol’ chap.”

Pulling the front room together really makes the whole space feel so much more established. And while it’s taken months of renovation to get where we are, just like Third Thursday, the progress kind of snuck up on us. The display is finally in place. The bathroom is finished. There is finally art on the walls. We’ve been so focused on the little parts and details that it’s easy to walk into that front room and be surprised by the sum. If you haven’t seen it yet, come on by. We think you’ll like it.