Rob and Jacquie Mardell, owners of La Dolce Velo on The Alameda in San Jose, had no idea they would end up as business owners. Formerly in the pharmaceutical research field, the Santa Clara couple started working on bikes in their garage as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Rob raised $80,000 by asking for a donation in exchange for a new or repaired bike. “People’s bikes are very personal,” Jacquie says. “People spend months picking out a new bike.”
When the business outgrew their garage, Rob and Jacquie had to decide: quit repairing bikes and focus on their careers or go whole hog with the bike shop. The tipping point was their teenage son. With dad often on the road all day, it soon became apparent that father and son needed to spend more time together. Rob decided to quit his job, open a bike shop on Stevens Creek. His son came in every day after school, with immediate positive results for both father and son.
With business booming, the couple again outgrew their space and began stalking the building on the Alameda that had housed Andy’s Pet Store for 60 years.
At their Stevens Creek shop, people just drove by. They love the new location on The Alameda. “Look at all these homes at the Avalon, the coffee shops and stores. We wanted this neighborhood,” Jacquie says. “See all the people walking by — this neighborhood’s value keeps going up.”
In Santa Clara, they have noticed that businesses along El Camino Real suffer, and that this stretch of the corridor could be greatly improved. “There is rarely ever any walk-by traffic along El Camino in Santa Clara. As for riding your bike, the road curves for drainage and busses are buzzing right by you,” says Rob.
The two love the Bay Area, and are proud of being a part of the solution. “We want to be a part of building the bike culture in San Jose; creating a community through bicycling,” says Jacquie. Half of their staff ride in San Jose Bike Party every month.
“I love walking down the street and hearing four or five different languages, having the choice of four or five different cuisines,” says Jacquie. “You get the diversity without the animosity,” adds Rob.