The Trolley Pub garage is getting a makeover, and riders will no longer have to bring their own beer to pedal through downtown streets.
In December, crews from Raleigh-based Oak City Customs will install merchandise displays and coolers and create a separate area where customers can hang out while waiting for tours to begin.
“Right now it’s just separated by a burlap, floor-to-ceiling curtain,” said Evan Wood, who oversees the Trolley Pub locations in North Carolina. “It’s’ going to be a more permanent, professional structure.”
The renovations should be completed by this spring, and the changes should make it more convenient for customers who don’t want to buy beer ahead of time, Wood said.
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They mobile pubs travel about 10 mph but have a small 72-volt electric engine to give pedalers a boost when going up hills, getting started at traffic lights or getting out of the way of emergency vehicles.
Trolley rides in Raleigh have been popular. During the busy fall and spring seasons, drivers give between 150 and 200 monthly tours, Wood said.
The Raleigh location has grown from one vehicle to five in four years, but Wood said the company won’t add more.
“That’s a self-imposed limit, so we’re not going to go past five,” he said. “We just don’t want to congest (traffic).”
The Trolley Pub company operates in several states, including Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and Michigan. In North Carolina, the trolleys roam the streets of Charlotte and Wilmington, and a Durham location is opening this month near the old Durham Athletic Park, Wood said.
A separate company in Durham, Biker Bar, currently operates similar vehicles in the Bull City. But Wood believes both companies can coexist.
He said the Trolley Pubs will travel in different parts of the city and only offer bar crawls. The Biker Bar also offers historic tours, doughnuts and coffee rides and moonlight rides.
“We’re different enough that I think that’s not going to be an issue,” he said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi