On Wednesday I noticed a For Lease sign in the window of Steel Wheels, the indoor cycling facility located at 224 N. Euclid. Bob Koplar opened the business in early 2018, and over the last couple of years it developed a devoted following. If you missed a chance to take a ride, here is a post about my visit to the handsome space shortly after it opened.
While the closure isn’t a total surprise given the nature of the business and the need for social distancing, it is yet again another reminder of the far-reaching effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the neighborhood. Many CWE businesses are in the process of reopening with restrictions on the number of people who can visit at a time, but that wouldn’t be a sustainable model for Steel Wheels.
Here is how Koplar responded when I asked him how he was handling the closure:
“Hi Nicki, thanks for reaching out. Strange times indeed.
This was a heartbreaking decision for me but necessary under the circumstances. Our business model relies on a number of people being able to exercise together in the same room. Our core service became our community. Even if the City were to allow us to re-open at some point in the future, social distancing restrictions and (understandable) concerns on the part of our members would have made it impossible for us to be successful. Our mission is to make people healthier, and we didn’t want to run any risk of doing the opposite.
I am taking a hard look at our concept to see if there is any way we can continue with the very positive momentum we’ve built over the last couple years–whatever form that might take. For now, I am just very grateful to everyone who supported us since we opened, and have been deeply touched by their outpouring of support since the sad announcement. I will miss our team and our customers terribly.