Cyclismo "Mini Cafe" is open for business in a colorful shipping container outside of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in Redwood City on April 27, 2023. (Courtesy Jihan Bayyari / Cyclismo Cafe)
By Avery Luke
When Jihan Bayyari made the choice to close Cyclismo last year, she hoped to someday re-imagine the cafe in a way that would be financially sustainable. Then, an unconventional solution arrived—in the form of a colorful shipping container.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative reached out to Jihan Bayyari and her husband and asked if they would like to use the shipping container to reopen a smaller version of their cafe. "Cyclismo Mini Cafe" opened for business outside of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in Downtown Redwood City in late March.
"To have someone throw your name in the ring just really meant a lot and I felt like all the sacrifices I made, all the time spent away to try to like immerse myself in the community and be part of the community paid off," said Bayyari.
When Cyclismo Cafe first opened in 2016, it quickly established a reputation in Redwood City as a community gathering space with big, family-style tables, healthy eats and locally-roasted coffee. Bayyari said their coffee roast, which is made specifically for her cafe, comes from a friend's farm in San Carlos. Cyclismo's menu features grab-and-go meals with locally sourced ingredients, inspired by Bayyari's Mexican and Arab heritage and affinity for wholesome fast-casual food.
"We were always super innovative in the way we did things," said Bayyari. "The shipping container does attract attention and it pops up really nicely. Our slogan is ‘tiny space, bold taste,’ so people understand we're small but mighty. It's the same thing, just in a smaller package.”
Even without the spacious storefront, Cyclismo is still keeping its communal reputation alive. The shipping container provides a dynamic space to continue to connect with the community, complete with Wi-Fi and benches outside where customers to either stay and sit down or take their food and coffee-on-the-go.
Bayyari said the initial stages of re-opening have been slow going, and she is still figuring out the best way to market the new space. She admits the cafe's name has caused confusion in the past, with people assuming it is a cycling store. "Ciclismo" translates to "cycling" in Spanish. But the bicycle theme is personal to Bayyari, and she doesn't plan to let it go. While living in Sweden as an expat, Bayyari relied on her bicycle for transportation, which helped her learn more about the city she was living in.
"On the bike, you can slow down, you can really connect with your community," Bayyari said.
Cyclismo's "Mini Cafe" is currently open outside of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in Downtown Redwood City, located at 1180 Main St., Tuesday through Thursday and weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cyclismo Mini Cafe, 134 Maple St., Redwood City, 650-362-3970.