Pedal, pub and pontoon aren’t usually associated with each other, but that recently changed when the new Salt Water Pedal Pub joined the Destin harbor scene last week. “We just sat down one evening talking about the cycle pubs that are popular in Seattle and Tulsa,” said owner Randy Graham. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if you could do that same thing on the water?’ ”
Cycle pubs resemble small, open-air trolley cars, only two rows of pedalers face each other as they slowly propel the vehicle while sipping suds through streets as a non-drinker steers the ride. Randy and his wife Sheila said they planned to have a special boat built before they learned that a boat designer out of Bend, Oregon, was already producing cycle pub pontoons. “We bumped into Cascade Cycle Boats and a week later, we owned a boat,” Randy said.
The Grahams, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said they were ready for a lifestyle change. Randy sold his dental practice and Sheila gave up her career as a hair designer to move to Destin. The couple already owned property in Destin and have been spending about a week per month living on Holiday Isle for the past three years, so this business venture just sealed the deal for their next phase of life. “When this opportunity jumped up, it was just something we wanted to put our energy into,” said Randy. “Water is kind of our second home, and we wanted to try to find a business where we could enjoy it.”
“It’s so much fun meeting people,” added Sheila. “That boat brings smiles to everyone we pass out there.”
The pontoon cycle pub can carry 14 passengers and is equipped with 10 cushioned bicycle stations, a trough-style cooler, a quality sound system and a small seating area for those who do not wish to pedal.
“It is self-propelled with a paddle wheel that is connected to the pedals,” Randy said. “We do have a motor for safety reasons and so that when people get tired they don’t have to worry about pedaling but can just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
The typical cycle pub tour lasts an hour and a half, touring the Destin harbor and out into the bay around Crab Island. However, unlike most land-bound bicycle pedal tours, the Salt Water Pedal Pub works on a bring-your-own drinks and snacks model. Randy explained that part of the reason for leaving the food and drinks up to the customers was so that the cycle pub would not have to limit riders to adults 21 and older.
“We can book private tours and families,” he said. “It’s great for wedding parties, bachelorettes, birthday parties or even team building events for businesses.”