Grand opening of Ottawa Bike Cafe on Sparks Street

A new attraction on Sparks Street years in the making has arrived. The Ottawa Bike Café held its grand opening on Saturday.

"We wanted it to be a hub for locals and tourists who share a passion for the outdoors, biking, and a passion for good food," explained Maria Rasouli, one of the owners.

The partnership between Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals and Retro-Rides bike shop was supposed to debut in May 2020, but the pandemic changed that.

"It's not easy to run a business downtown, especially on a pedestrian street that relies on office workers and tourists," said Jason Komendat, co-owner of Ottawa Bike Café.

The café is a one-stop shop, offering locally sourced food and drinks, with vintage bikes on display, and a place to rent and tune-up some wheels.

"It's nice to see the energy and people in the community," said Gabriel Maneiro who dropped by the bike café.

"I'm excited people are out enjoying the warmer weather. I'm looking forward to getting a little closer to normal," said Mya Shrestha, also out for a bike ride around the city.

Restrictions in Ontario are easing further—the province moves into Step 3 of its reopening plan in less than a week—and with the vaccination numbers in Ottawa increasing steadily, many have notice an energy boost on Sparks Street.

That includes bus tours in the nation's capital, now picking up steam and adding more foot traffic to the street, which for more than a year has been a ghost town.

"People are starting to interact all over the place," said Wayne, a busker clown handing out balloons near Sparks Street. "I like to see a lot of people, especially children that will take balloons."

With additions like the Bike Café, there is hope the momentum for tourism in Ottawa will only continue to climb.

"We aren't at the tipping point that we would hope to be, but we think it's coming; it's coming faster than last year," said Rasouli.