On the east end of the upscale drag that is Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Boulevard, a peculiar new space called Two& — yes, that's the correct name; it's pronounced "Two and" — opened its doors just last month. The name is a play on words in an attempt to get people talking. Two and what?
The window sign reads: "Two& beer/wine, bicycle shop, antiques." Inside, there are stone walls, a 1930s fireplace, high vaulted ceilings with old Dade County pine beams, a backroom filled with antiques, a lounge area with midcentury furniture, and various paintings mounted on the wall — all for sale. A bar area commands the center of the room, where cyclists and neighborhood folks chat casually over beer and wine. The front of the house includes indoor bicycle parking, and a dozen or so custom-made bikes are on display by the front window.
Over in the side room, a bike mechanic impresario known around town as Elmo Love works away on a blue Georgena Terry road bike. It has a flat tire, but the wheel size is not standard, so Elmo has to customize the fit so his customer will be able to ride her bike later that night.
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He has on blue medical gloves. Manipulating the tube and the spoke strip inside, he has to resize it so it fits the wheel. This is just a quick fix for now. "Are you going to be bad?" he blurts as he handles the job. He explains that he intends to order the correct size because the cyclist will get only a few rides and he wants to ensure she's taken care of.
He perks up, looking intently at the light-blue frame. "It seems like every bike has an amazing story."
He grabs a floor pump and begins to add in air. He then releases a bit as the tire makes a swooshing sound and pumps in some more just to check that all is in order. Dressed in black patent-leather sneakers, camouflage shorts, a black tank top, and crowned with a fedora and his ears pierced with gauges, he follows an unconventional lifestyle.
"I adopted this manner of dress in construction because the armpit freedom of tank tops is addictive," he says in a typically quirky quip.
The outspoken 30-something slowly reveals that he's more of an artist than a mechanic. Since 2006, he's been scouring eBay for bike parts, items so esoteric for his custom bicycle-making business that seasoned pros claim they're unfamiliar with the parts he finds. This hobby turned business hasn't been the most profit-turning deal, but he's figured out a way to offer customers affordable customizations. His creations go from $200 to as steep as $4,000 a pop.
Customers can visit Two& from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily for basic tune-ups for a mere $25 and a tube change for $12. That service is less than area contenders, who would charge around $25 per tube change.
"There are only a few things in this world that I get satisfaction out of — fixing bikes, photography, and sex, but of course, I can only admit to doing two of those professionally," he chuckles.
Just to his right stands a purple fixed-gear bicycle upon which he has placed on the top frame specialty "nard guards," or rather testicle guards, fashioned out of spongy pool noodles. He bought the purple frame and fork from an online auction, built the wheels out, and even laced up the spokes to suit his fancy. On the wheel, he installed a burgundy freestyle pad meant for doing tricks. The lavender tires are fat like on a beach cruiser, and the saddle and seat post are another shade of purple. The handlebars are a slightly smaller BMX style with clear handgrips. The piece is a showstopper with a '70s flare.
"That's the other thing about custom bikes is that it's never done," he observes.
His wife, Zoe Love, a soft-spoken amazon beauty, mans the bar and runs the antiques side of their business. She resembles a porcelain doll with her strawberry-blond tresses gracing down almost to her lower back. She grew up in Arizona antiquing with her mother, who originally came from England. It was about two years ago when Zoe realized she could turn a profit selling her finds online.
"It didn't take long for us to get overwhelmed in our house with all the antiques and custom bikes piling up," she recalls.
It was time to find a space. "I've been looking to buy a bar for years," Zoe says. "So I got on my bicycle one day, and I rode all around downtown Fort Lauderdale and took down numbers of places that were vacant, and the next day, I started cold calling people. When I called the landlord for this place, a sweet lady answered the phone saying, 'Oh, hold on one minute — you have to talk to my husband, George. I'm baking cookies,' " she says mimicking the woman's Greek accent.
Inside the back room, customers can find vintage jewelry priced at $20, china sets, funky furnishings, and paintings. Plans are in place to host art shows featuring local artists. Burlesque nights and live music nights are part of the events calendar.
This married couple is as peculiar as the venue's name. Each has a drastically different persona; it's amusing listening to them converse. Zoe, who moonlights at Tootsie's Cabaret in Miami Gardens, has this understated sensual vibe, a trait unusual for a Tootsie's stripper. She's worked the industry for so many years that she claims it has prepared her to handle the whim of any customer; taking care of people and learning their tales is something she deeply values.
The duo recently shot a topless tire-change video in which a woman friend of theirs strips down to her black underwear while a buff, shirtless mechanic fixes her flat and spins out sexual puns. "So how much riding do you do?" "Enough." It was promoted on social media as "Two& Topless."
Aside from the silliness, community is a big deal to the proprietors. Zoe Love leads the weekly Wednesday-night ride in Fort Lauderdale, where nearly 150 folks meet in Esplanade Park around 8:30 and go on a slow-paced social excursion around the beach and downtown.
For the pair, riding bikes is what motivates them in life. "I love the bike's noise — the chain interfacing with a couple of the gears, and when you go fast enough, you start to hear the tires on the ground a little bit," Elmo says.
"If I don't ride, I don't know what I'm working for. I love this job, but if I don't go for my rides on Sunday and Wednesday and I didn't get to ride for that little bit in the mornings, I wouldn't want to do any job; I wouldn't want to work. There's no amount of money that would cause me to stop."
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