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R&A goes to Miami for its third store, and first full restaurant

Published January 23, 2024

Editor's note: A version of this article ran in the December issue of BRAIN.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BRAIN) — The high-end brick-and-mortar and online retail giant R&A Cycles, in business since 1976, is opening its third location. And like its second location, which launched in the California Bay Area just as the pandemic began, store #3 is a long way from the R&A’s origins in Brooklyn. It’s in Coral Gables, near Miami.

R&A CEO Albert Cabbad said R&A has a large online customer base in the Miami area, and also has long had a strong business with South American cyclists, who often come to Miami to shop. 

R&A had planned to open a Miami location before its California store in Walnut Creek, but that didn’t work out. Now the retailer can take what it’s learned in California and improve on it in Florida, he said.  

“We’ve been in negotiations on the lease for over a year. Now we’re basically taking Walnut Creek and adding 2,000 feet. We’re fixing the pain points we identified in Walnut Creek, so each store is better than the last,” he told BRAIN. 

“Everyone is like, ‘Why are you expanding in this market?’ And I’m like, this market is only going to last so long, and when it improves we’ll be established. And actually I’m still doing tons of (online) business in Florida,” he said. 

The Coral Gables location has a full restaurant, expanding on the cafe at the Walnut Creek store. Both eateries are called Ramona’s, named for Cabbad’s grandmother, the “R” in R&A. 

“We had all these name ideas for the Walnut Creek restaurant, different cycling-related names. Then my grandmother passed away soon before we opened and someone said, ‘Why not name it for her?’ It was an ah-ha moment. She was a very welcoming person so it’s a good name and the colors are my grandmother’s colors. It gives me chills,” he said. 

The Coral Gables Ramona’s has a separate entrance from the bike shop, although a “cycling lounge” merges the two operations internally when the bike store is open. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night, offering artisanal pizza, baked goods, beer and wine. 

At the Walnut Creek location, Cabbad considers Ramona’s cafe an accessory to the store, a “low-budget marketing expense.” But the Florida restaurant is intended to be a self-supporting business.

R&A is known for its high-end road bike offerings and the Coral Gables store will continue to serve that niche, which he feels is now underserved.

“It’s a very dense retail scene there, but underserved. The markets down there (that are being served now) are not our market. The stores are selling high-end, but it’s not their focus the way it is for us,” he said.

Like the Walnut Creek store, Coral Gables will contain several stores-within-a-store tied to partner brands and will run rides and other events. 

“We will draw from I think as far away as Tampa, and obviously the whole South American market goes there. We always support that market and this will help forge that alliance better. But we also expect to do really good service in the local market. The local market is demanding better service.”

A year after opening the Walnut Creek store, R&A acquired nearby Zealot Cycleworks and closed its storefront, bringing several of its managers on board at R&A. At the time Cabbad said the move was about “acquiring the best people we can.” 

With its international reputation and scale, R&A is sure to make waves in the Miami area retail market. Cabbad said R&A has developed friendly relationships with other retailers in the Bay Area and he expects the same in Florida. 

“When we got to Walnut Creek we ended up embracing each other. I think we raised the bar there and now we’re friends with everyone there. I think a lot of retailers kind of think we are just a big online guy, and we are, but we’re just people and we actually run a different kind of business than everybody else. 

“They are all going to get nervous. We already visited them with the white flag — I told them we are not here to destroy anybody. We have our own clientele, we wouldn’t have an online business if we didn’t. The people who are buying from us are not buying from the (retailers) who are there now.”

Rendering of the Miami Ramona's restaurant.

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