“I’ve been super-secretive because this is a project we didn’t want anybody else to do before we did it,” says an observably excited Freddie Coffey, who has been teasing his big announcement for some time. “We’re working on building and launching from downtown Cleveland a pedal pub on the water. It’s like the Cleveland Cycle Tours pedal pubs, but ours will be on the river and on the lake.”
In fact Coffey, who previously worked with Destination Cleveland to promote the region for tourism, says that he came up with the idea soon after enjoying one of those exact tours.
“I actually just had the idea after doing the cycle tour thing,” he says. “I thought it would be cool if somebody could do this on the water instead. I started searching for a manufacturer and saw that one already existed.”
The barges, all built by the same outfit, currently operate in five cities, including Portland, San Diego and Houston. When it launches this Memorial Day, BrewBoat CLE, which operates under the Brew CLE
umbrella, will be Ohio’s first floating pedal pub/sightseeing experience.
The 31-foot pontoon paddle boats accommodate 14 adult passengers, 10 of whom power the boat with peddle power while four take it easy on bench seating. Two staffers, a captain and first mate, are along for the ride.
The two-hour tours will embark from North Coast Harbor, the East Bank or the West Bank of the Flats. Passengers will decide whether they’d like to do a loop on Lake Erie inside the break wall or travel down the Cuyahoga River and back. The distance covered is determined by the power (and will) of those pedaling. By raising or lowering the paddle wheel, the speed increases or decreases in direct proportion with the effort. A 10hp electric motor is available as well.
These are BYOB tours, with each passenger allowed by law to bring 36 ounces of beer or 18 ounces of wine with them. Cups, ice and water are provided by BrewBoat. Special-event tours might include a romantic date night for two or beer and wine tasting events hosted by the brewer or winemaker.
BrewBoat CLE will operate between Memorial Day and Labor Day, plus select weekends weather permitting, such as home Browns games. Plans call for adding a flat-screen television so football fans can float outside the stadium while watching the game.
The bulk of the project is being privately financed, but an Indiegogo campaign (launching this week) will help fund the accelerated construction of the vessel. Rewards for donating include maiden voyage tickets.
“We expect demand to be very high, especially during special events like the Cleveland National Air Show, Republican Convention, IngenuityFest, the Fourth of July fireworks and even Browns games,” said Coffey. “Our Indiegogo campaign gives early supporters the chance to reserve their spot at a discount, while helping us get ready for a very busy 2016.”