Culture Exchange – New Bike Café in Graz
Anna Powdrill, one of the owners of the Culture Exchange - bike shop, bike kitchen, café and restaurant - in Graz and Novi Sad, shares her personal long and incredible journey of founding this place together with five friends.
To start with a simple introduction, the owners of CE are from all around the world (England, USA, Greece, Italy). Most of us met in Serbia where we were doing humanitarian work, afterwards we had the idea to start a community minded business. With most of us interested in opening a Café, we also had many interests in bicycles and cycling. We put the two ideas together and started Culture Exchange.
Our project in Serbia was really successful, both sides of the business were supporting each other perfectly and we were also able to promote bike culture and fixie culture in Serbia, where it was not so well known or used. Unfortunately we had some problems in Serbia due to the political state of the country, the foreign influence of our business in the city was not supported by some strong political parties and almost every owner of CE had their visa’s denied and were forced in some kind of sneaky way to leave the country. The ownership of the business was all on my name and even though it seemed they would kick me out too, in a sudden change of events, my visa was not denied and I was allowed to continue to work and run CE in Serbia.
Now we faced a new challenge, that was if we should continue to build Culture Exchange, and if so where and when. All remaining partners of the business discussed our options, in the end, 5 of the original team decided that we wanted to continue our dream of CE and see it open in a new country. Because we already had so many friends and connections to Graz, we decided to try to open the next CE here in Graz.
This was almost 2 years ago, and we have been working since that point till now to save up the money that we needed, figure out the legal system, build the shop and finally open it. All of us who are owning CE are pretty young, and our bar in Serbia is really our first business experience. Graz is our second, and we have learned so much already and continue to do so every day. One of the most outstanding things about our project is that it was started from the grassroots, by people without money, experience, political power or friends in high places. I would say the building blocks of our business are hard-work, determination, perseverance and just the simple ability to bounce back from the many troubles and challenges that you encounter when you are working on something like this. We also build almost all the interior of both businesses ourselves. Within the crew we have plenty of skills and talents and used them all when making the project.
CE in Graz is a totally new space, we don’t want to copy exactly what our business in Serbia looked or felt like. We know that every city has its own personality and we want to be as open as possible to everything so we can really get to know the community and become a part of it. We hope to host concerts, movie and documentary showings, gallery openings, community projects, workshops and meetings, bike repair classes, and much much more. Most importantly we want everyone to feel comfortable at our place, we are a group from all over the world with so many differences. Something important to us is that everyone is accepted no matter where they are from or what they are into.
On the bike side of our business, we have a bike kitchen, free for anyone to use. We also will be doing repairs and building custom bikes exactly to your taste and how you want it designed. We also want to educate people more in building, maintaining and repairing bikes.
We are open every day from 7am-10pm, with a mid-day meal from 12-4pm.
Graz is already a thriving biking city with many things going on and so many cyclists and bike interested events happening. It’s such a pleasure to open a shop in such a beautiful, cultural, diverse city with wonderful people. We hope to see you at our shop one of these days soon.
For more information and ongoing events visit the Culture Exchange Facebook page!
That’s how you find CE:
Adress: Grazbachgasse 47, 8010 Graz
Opening hours: Daily 7am – 10pm
If this makes you wanna visit a bike coffee in your city – check out where is your nearest bike café and let us know if one’s missing in our list!
Images © Culture Exchange