Fri. Aug. 1 7:53 am
50° Few clouds, patches of fog
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pedaling Paradise

JUNEAU EMPIRE
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Paradise Cafe owner Joan Deering, left, watches employee Hannah Vogt pore in the ingredients for a fruit smoothie before mixing it with a bicycle on a training platform and installed with a bike blender in front of the business on Thursday.
5 comments »
Latest by 44 years 31 weeks ago

Already well-known for its decadent treats, quirky decor and friendly atmosphere, Paradise Café has added another unique feature to the atmosphere: a “Fender Blender.” This blender, located on the back of a bicycle on a training platform, is powered by the pedaler — and it has inspired an upcoming event that Café owner Joan Deering hopes won’t be the last.

The Bike Blender Smoothie Contest will kick off at 5 p.m. July 27, rain or shine, and should be a delicious and healthy start to the weekend.

Contenders should start training and tasting now, because the competition is likely to be stiff — much like those calf muscles might be for the unprepared blender biker.

The rules state that contestants should bring their ingredients and a $10 entry fee that will go to charity. The criteria judges will look for in the blender biker are originality, taste, color, health benefits, presentation and speed of blending. And while it isn’t explicitly stated, anyone who has been to an event at Paradise Café knows that presentation is a big, and fun, part of any Paradise party.

The party will likely also feature some musical guests (Deering’s daughter Lahna, one half of Deering and Down, might be in town, along with the other half, Rev. Neil Down), other Paradise treats and a lot of supporters. Another thing to look forward to is the availability of the Paradise Café cookbook, with recipes from the restaurant’s 20-some years in business, including old favorites and more recent originals. Those fearing the rumors are true (and they are) that Paradise Café will no longer hail from its current location might want to pick up a recipe book in case a new location isn’t secured.

“Because it’s my 10th year and it might be Paradise’s last year — in this location. I may have found a new location — every year I try to get something fun, and this year when I saw on Facebook, of course, Memphis had their bike-to-work week and they had one of these (bike blenders), many of these in this park and Lahna was on one and it just looked so fun. So I googled blender bike, and this business came up — Rock the Bike Blender — in Berkeley, Calif. I saw it and thought it would be so much fun to have here this summer.”

The bike blender might also be part of turning over a new, healthier leaf for the business.

“One of my thoughts for moving, when I move, I’m going to try to be a little more pro-health.” she said.

Paradise Café offers a variety of pastries and desserts and even the bulk of the entrees have the potential to add a little bulk to one’s frame, made with pastries, scones and cheese, frequently. In addition to the current healthier options, Deering hopes the new Paradise Café will have a wider variety of smoothies, soups and salads. Plus, the option to blend one’s own smoothie might burn off just enough calories to justify ordering that cookie.

The bike also appeals to Deering’s interest in having less of an impact on the environment and being a little less reliant on energy from the grid.

“Everything that pushes a wheel can be retrofitted to generate (energy).” Deering said, referencing other examples of using bicycles to blend or grind, like a Central American woman grinding corn for masa flour.

She also was reminded of something her parents used to joke about.

“When I was a kid, my mom and dad used to tell me, ‘We’re going to hook up the TV to a bicycle, so if you ever want to watch TV, you’ve got to generate your own power.’ It never happened, of course, but I just thought it was a cute idea.”

And while the blender bike is a great addition to the Café’s quirks and appliances, it will be an optional, fun thing — nobody will have to bike for a smoothie if they don’t want to. Nor will they be grinding the flour for their own scones.

The bike now outfitted with the blender was once used as a pedi-cab by Deering’s son Morgan and a friend.

“Luke Metcalfe helped me rig it up, he put a new chain on it and set it up.” Deering said.

The smoothie contest event with the unveiling of the recipe book, as Deering sees it, is part of a greater celebration of history of the restaurant, its future, and its role in the community.

During the interview with Deering, drummer and former teacher Clay Good stopped by the Café to take measurements. Good’s father’s birthday party was scheduled for the weekend. Good commented that Paradise Café is not just a business, but a part of the community. And that’s what Deering and past owners, Buzz and Monica Ritter, had strived for.

“I do feel like Paradise is kind of part of the community, and it’s been here for more than 20 years. I’ve had it for 10 years and Buzz and Monica had it for 10 before me, and it was around for a couple years before that as the Boarding House.” Deering said, “I’ve made almost all my friends — distant friends, near friends — here at Paradise… this has brought a lot of people, over 10 years, to this place.”

“I just wanted to have some fun, which we always seem to have here, there’s a lot of fun in here. And the (blender) bike is part of it, and I’ve always had a bike on our wall over there that Lahna and I rode around Skagway before we came here. And I think this space makes people feel like they don’t know what the heck it’s all about… or they feel at home.” Deering said, pointing out a tandem bicycle decorating one wall in the Café.

So, for anyone who is hoping to attend another Paradise Café party, or for anyone who has yet to experience events like Bourbon Brunch or a private party or cooking lessons, Paradise Café invites you to attend the Bike Blender Smoothie Contest and celebration. Bring your ingredients, bring your friends, and Deering guarantees “We’ll have a silly, fun time.”

For more information on Paradise Café, find their page on Facebook or visit paradiseCafeyeehaw.com.

• Contact Neighbors editor Melissa Griffiths at 523-2272 or at melissa.griffiths@juneauempire.com.

5 comments »
Latest by 44 years 31 weeks ago