Tamago Bike Shop
Location: Tamago Bike Shop, 1451 E 57th Street Chicago, IL 60637
Description: Tamago is a quaint bike shop located near the University of Chicago campus that features drip coffee, donuts, and Publican bread subscriptions. The owner is extremely friendly and draws a loyal crowd of cyclists and locals that congregate in his shop and openly discuss (and argue) various issues.
While one may not initially think of a bike shop as a social hub, especially on a college campus, Tamago engages the community by providing a space where students, professors, and residents from the university/Hype Park community can congregate and talk about cycling, university gossip, and other current events. Since the space is relatively small, customers tend to talk to one another, and the owner facilitates conversation by serving drip coffee. It is not uncommon for cyclists to stop by the shop just to socialize with other customers. Considering the lack of social interactions on campus, since individuals tend to remain within their cliques or walk around with headphones on, Tamago has been a great place for me to meet new people that I otherwise would not have met, such as graduate students and professors. I’ve spent countless hours after “closing time” discussing the Tour de France, bike trails in Indiana, my confidential thoughts about the university, politics, etc.
In addition to serving as a hub for social interaction, Tamago activates the public realm by making the street more engaging through the use of elaborate window displays featuring bright color bike frames, an open case of donuts, and a stack of Publican bread. The store is also decorated with vintage lightbulbs, which creates a warm glow that is inviting during the winter when most students end class past sundown. I’ve witnessed many instances in which a pedestrian will stroll passed the shop, pause, and then proceed to enter the store out of curiosity, usually amazed at how a small bike shop can double as an informal café. If there is a conversation going on within the shop amongst us “regulars,” it is not uncommon for a first-time customer to join in on the conversation and stay for an hour, while we all sip away at our coffees and rip off corners of a sourdough loaf.