Ace Cafe does America

Dailies -



Beginning next year, The Ace Cafe plans to launch 10 new locations in the USA, adapting its greasy North London cafe racer culture to the land of exploiting fads until you can stick a fork in them. Dipping a toe in cold beer, there’ll initially be a pop-up location at the Dime City Cycles grand opening in Tampa on May 14.

For those unfamiliar with the North Circular’s premier motorcycle destination, it’s a revival of an old timey transport cafe that was an important part of the original cafe scene back in the ‘60s. It’s run by Mark Wilsmore, who was there back then before becoming a motorcycle cop.

According to The Ace, “These new Ace Cafe restaurant and motorsports gathering venues will bring all the heritage, atmosphere and enthusiasm of the original Ace, and feature the signature looks of the original along with great food, live music
and daily events.”

We’re not sure what this means for San Francisco’s current Ace Cafe, which is actually a great dive bar that serves a mean fish and chips, but we’ll reach out now and hopefully update you later today.

via BikeEXIF

  • Colin


    • Matt the sperglord

      I think you’re lost.

      BSNYC is this way.

      • Colin

        It’s just a stupid joke. Happens a lot on another forum I am on.

  • aristurtle

    “We’re not sure what this means for San Francisco’s current Ace Cafe”

    It means a long, expensive trademark lawsuit.

    Also this means that the whole cafe racer thing is now jumping the shark. Hipsters aren’t allowed to like something if it’s the theme for a multinational chain; it’s one of the rules.

    • Thom

      Isn’t it kind of pathetic , the ” Rules ” these so called ” Hipsters” try so hard to follow .

      But since when did “Trendophiles ” suddenly Morph into ” Hipsters ” is what I’d like to know

      SSDD if you ask me .

      • Thom

        Todays ” Hipsters ”

        Kind of like the Harley crowd.

        The more ” Individual ” they claim to be

        The more a ” Uniform ” they become .

        What was that Brian Eno quote of late ?

        ” The most difficult thing in life is to be Yourself ”

        Now thats ” Hip “

        • Wes Siler

          Yeah, lets knock off all this hipster talk please. It’s just stupid.

          • Tyler

            Thank you

    • Surj

      The Ace Cafe in SF just closed due to a massive rent increase/landlord drama. Last I heard, they’ve packed up and are looking for a new location.!/TheAceCafeSF/status/63996179968565248

  • Mark D

    I give it 2 to 3 years until there is an “Ace Cafe” casino in Vegas.

    What brain-addled investors actually signed off on this thing? Did’t Harley have a wildly unsuccessful chain of restaurants in the recent past?

    • Mdynamic

      I was just going to say they can gladly take over the Harley Davidson “Cafe” on the strip. That place seems to be dead all the time, wouldn’t be surprised if it’s closed. (I live in vegas)

  • Thom

    Ohhhh ggodie !!! Another Copy Cat “Chain ” attempting to play off the History of what once was an Icon , soon to become just another Hipster Wanna Be dump , with bad food , high prices and more (bleep) holes than you can shake a fist at .

    Hard Rock Cafe 2.0 . Just what the World needs . More garbage taking up real estate .

    Seems like everybody is reading the Ferrari ” Play Book ” of late . Ducati Cool Dude World anyone ?

    • Tom

      i live across the road from it and its a tacky dump full of morons with more mouth than skill. Avoid.

  • the_doctor

    Uh, neat? Cafe racers are cool, but this, this is just too much.

    I would much rather have a street fighter chain were there was actual street fighting going on. And an arcade.

  • michael uhlarik

    For this to be authentic, the place needs the following :

    - warm beer (Ideally Carling)
    - soggy food
    - irritable staff missing teeth, ideally from Essex
    - young women in shiny tops, also from Essex
    - several builders (construction workers to us North Americans) in imitation A Stars gear at the counter, discussing which GSX-R is faster, the one with anodized fairing screws, or the one with the iridium tinted wind screen.
    - several European tourists in pink sweaters at the merchandise counter buying coffee mugs

    But what do I know

    • tomwito

      Eel Pie and Spotted Dick! FTW!

    • frankieapples

      +1 on the Essex girls

  • HammSammich

    I always thought that we honored the past through remembrance, not through profiting from it’s desecration. I love the look and feel of cafe bikes, as well as the stories and legends that developed around that special period in motorcycling history…but it’s gone. We can ride the bikes – some people even dress the part, but no matter what we do, we can’t experience that past in anything more than a disingenuous, synthetic, sanitized, Disneyland sort of way. Ultimately, the people who patronize this chain are no more “ton-up boys” than my dentist is a “One-Percenter” when he leathers-up and heads to the local biker bar on his harley, but at least it’s another motorcycle-centric venue that will hopefully encourage awareness and acceptance of motorcycling.

    Edited for clarification.

    • Myles

      Kind of piggy-backing on this idea a bit. . . .

      I don’t understand anyone who make history their hobby. The people they are idolizing would fucking HATE them! For example, people who are way into renaissance fairs and shit. Dressing up like knights in shining armor and shooting homemade bows. They worship someone who would be mad cool back in the day, but if you time-machined a knight in shining armor to present day, they wouldn’t be doing renaissance fair garbage. They’d be doing cool modern stuff. Because they were cool people, and did back-in-their-day modern stuff.

      The same with all these dorks on cafe-racers. If you took a “ton-up-boy” and time-machined him into modern day he wouldn’t be wrenching on a slow, unreliable bike – he’d be ripping a literbike to 300km on youtube.

      Reading about the past is cool, but trying to re-live the past is for idiots. If you look at the past, every single person who is remembered was forward-thinking and forward-living.

      • Thom

        Everything Old wasn’t Great

        Everything New isn’t Better

        As well as the Fastest Vehicle on the Track isn’t always the most fun to ride on the streets

        Its all about balance . As well as not taking any of it too seriously .

  • jpenney

    First, Wes is right about the “hipster” talk. We get it, anything you don’t like is hipster trash. FIne.

    I’m all for any place that welcomes bike or car enthusiasts to hang out.

    • Thom

      Ummm . Not quite . Anything I don’t like is my opinion and my opinion alone .

      Hipster Trash as you call it would be the fools parading/ masquerading around thinking they’re hip , when in fact they’re just another form of conformity .

      • casey

        yeah conforming is stupid! lets all not conform! oh no we’re the ones conforming.. damnit!

        • Steven

          did that mustache girl at the end of SLC Punk totally blow your minds, too?

          • casey

            I was daunted.

        • Kevin

          I just want to be unique, like all the other kids.

  • Mr.Paynter

    I will just continue to ride my bike and drool over actual cafe-racers.

    If this ever actually gets to Africa I may be bleak/concerned but until then I’ll chuckle to myself and ignore it!

  • R.Sallee

    Ace Cafe in San Francisco is closing, unrelated to this. Apparently the owner of the building owns a separate business across the street and wants Ace’s property since they’ve got a license to sell alcohol. Or something like that.

    • Wes Siler

      Damn, I really liked that place. Last time we were there, they recognized Grant and I and gave us free moonshine. Free moonshine is the secret to getting me to like your business.

      • Steven

        The Ace Cafe (SF)’s landlord,, will be evicting real bikers and replacing them with fake leather bondage bikers.

  • je

    Thats it im starting my own little hole in the wall.

    “The Rowdy Dog, Hot Wieners and Stuffed Pies”

    Will you guys eat there? I will have motorcycle parking :D

  • John

    Cafe racers have officially “Jumped the Shark!”


    And I just got my cafe bike running again.

  • Brammofan

    Sorry to be the “lone wolf” here, but I like this idea. I was driving through Topeka, Kansas on Sunday and passed by Topeka Harley Davidson, which has a restaurant inside it. I thought to myself, “I wish there was a restaurant for the rest of us.”
    I would definitely ride to an Ace Cafe . . . as long as it was within 30 miles of me . . . and if it was further than 15 or so, if it had a plug somewhere so I could recharge.

    • je

      Did you eat there? Its pretty terrible…

  • jason

    Cafe Racers jumped the shark as soon as that tv show came on. The guy that owned the magazine didn’t even know how to turn a wrench. Then the “bearings failed” on that build by the 1/2 a girl that sent one of the Boz bros crashing. The next fad that will catch on and be beaten to death will be the bobber revival scene I saw around the South Bay last year. Oh wait, Harley and Victory both came out with factory bobbers. And SPLASH goes the Fonz.

    • Thom

      The worst part about ” that guy ” is that he can’t seem to get his facts right in the magazine for the life of him . Calling a Norvin a “Stock ” Vincent was a prime example

      He’s got a great idea ( show and the magazine ) but doesn’t seem to have the knowledge and ability to pull it off .

      Then again , a bad Cafe Racer show/magazine beats the heck out of another Orange County/Jesse James debacle

      • jason

        True. I never liked choppers even as a kid in the 70′s. The guys were always grubby biker dudes whereas the kids on the Hondas and Kawis had wheelie bars and did burnouts.
        The selection of builders seemed lame too. There has to be a bigger selection than he showed. Especially that guy that built the one that crashed. Annoying little prick.
        They need some more adventure riding, true road racing (Irish do it I think), etc shows. But then Speed wouldn’t be able to show all of that NASCAR pre-post race crap.

  • Ganesh

    what LOCATIONS?

    • Wes Siler

      Not announced yet.

  • a hipster

    im picturing the Hard Rock but with less Elvis and more Steve McQueen. filled with stuff you can tell was made last week but is styled to look 50 years old.

    we don’t do chains, even if they’re aimed at “hipster” culture.

    this will fail miserably unless their are enough of those guys (you know, the old ones who are trying to be hip and buy thruxtons and every add-on from the triumph and BC manual they can find) to keep it in business.

    don’t blame this one on us and leave us out of it.

  • JonB

    I always aspired to visit the ace in the uk. Soon I’ll be able to drive down the street and visit one? Lame.

    I guess that makes me a hipster for not wanting every experience to be starbuck’d.

    • a hipster


      • JonB


        • a hipster

          i like your comment, that’s all. so much of what people call “hipster” and trying to be original is just not liking big chains or things that suck.

  • a hipster

    on a side note, went for a ride with some buddies out by cook’s this past weekend and found a rad little restaurant just a little farther up live oak canyon road that isn’t filled with chaps and $10 school-cafeteria hamburgers.


    it’s out of the way and wasn’t close to full when Cooks was packed…..and the food is amazing.

    now THATS some hipster nonsense.

    • Case

      Sweet. That’s some news I can use. Never been to this place but I’ll check it out. I ordered food at Cook’s once. Never again. Now I only stop there if I’m riding with peeps and they want a Coke.

      • a hipster

        you’ll love it, prob some of the best mexican food i’ve had in a while and the back patio backs into this wooded wilderness area and is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy a beer after a nice ride.

        ive always put up with that ride for the company, that restaurant makes me look forward to it now.

  • Kerry

    I can’t wait for the 2013 Harley Dark Kustoms 883 Kafé.

  • Mark D

    Hey, if it looks like this, I’d be onboard.

  • Case

    Some places are cool because they only exist in that place. I understand the Ace Cafe people want to make money, but this is a joke..

    You know what I think is cool? My “hipster” buddy that scrimped and saved and bought a ’76 sort-of-cafe’d cb750 for $1800 and loves it more than anything. The kid works his ass off to keep that thing running. This Ace Cafe chain restaurant thing is about as far removed from that as I can imagine.

    • Thom

      Now thats a “Hip ” kid ! Too few like him left in the world !

      • a hipster

        tons of us have old bikes. in our crew we have a 75 cb750 ss, a 76 cb750, a 75 cb400 ss, a 76 cb400, 3 early 70′s cb200′s, a 74 175 honda scrambler, a 72 rd400, 2 75 bmw’s, a 68 bonnie, and a handful of new bonnie’s/scramblers/thruxtons

        when you’re hating on hipsters, thats what you’re hating on.

      • Case

        My buddy is 21, and his generation is the ‘future’ of motorcycling, at least for the next 20 years or so. They are mostly ignored by current manufacturers, with the possible exception of Triumph. He’s into older bike brands so someday when he’s making grown-up money he will probably ride a modern Triumph or, if they’re still in business, a Norton. Whatever he’s riding, he won’t be stopping at the Ace Cafe franchise at Downtown Disney. F that noise.

        @a hipster: I know the hipsters are into the older bikes. Every time I’m in Long Beach I see them all over the place. Next time you’re out at the Rose Canyon Cantina post it up here and I’ll stop by. It’s not far from me.

        • wes’s soon to be roomate

          im one of the dudes you see in long beach. if wes has your info, ill have him let ya know when we go.

          and im one of the guys who bought a 70′s japanese bike (or went through 3 of them) before making enough money and buying a new bonnie. no, it’s not as cool…but it starts everytime and i dont get stranded anymore and it makes my 25 mile commute much nicer.

          • wes’s soon to be roomate

            oh sorry. i’m also “a hipster” as well as a few other personalities on here. forgot which one i was posting under last.

            it was such a bummer when wes figured out the girl that was posting stuff at him on the HFL msg boards was me….good thing it took grant longer.

          • Case

            Cool. Yeah Wes should have my email with my subscriber info. Give me a heads up when you ride out and I’ll be there, excepting my main summer commitments: weddings (meh) and track days (awesome).

          • Mark D

            After learning more about carburettors in the past few months than I ever thought possible, I’m convinced that they are the devil’s gizmo, and that Fuel Injection is the second coming of Christ.

          • damien

            Exactly. I picked up a 75 CB360 as my first bike. It was literally in boxes. Put that thing together and learned how to ride. It kept breaking…I bought a used Thruxton. Starts everytime (well, almost.)

            As far as the Ace Cafe. I’d be happy if I could get a decent fry up for breakfast…but I’m certainly not counting on top notch food quality there. Bummer.

  • Denzel

    Let’s play a game where we remove the criticized:

    All bikers – subtract the hipsters, subtract the “old guys with Thruxtons”, subtract the pirates, the pirate wannabes, the scoots, the squids, the power rangers, the faux adventure tourers, the [fill in the blank]. We’re all interested in bikes…the pool isn’t big enough to redline people out of it… If there are ten more places in the states devoted to moto culture, more power to us all…channeling Rodney King I know…

    • x

      if it is done well, absolutely. I dont care what kind of biking it is tailored towards as long as it is done well. outside of the food, i have enjoyed some of the well done harley’s and vintage biker stuff at cooks and the well done sport bikes and cool gear at the rock store.

      just dont give me another hard rock cafe or chain restaurant with cheesy “biker” themes. there’s a big difference between things devoted to bikes and things devoted to bikers.

  • JaHo

    As an expat Brit, anything that brings decent fish and chips to the colonies is a Good Thing. Motorcycles that go round corners properly is just icing on the cake.

    • Cajun58

      My thoughts precisely good food + good bikes = win win all the way around. Hope they will be in SoCal very soon. Although apparently The Cat and Fiddle serves some pretty decent Brit food here already.

  • BenP

    I’d be happy for a motorcycle friendly place like this in Boston, chain or not. This doesn’t seem like some non-motorcyclist co-opting the Ace Cafe name to make a buck, just a guy expanding his business… more power to him.

    And if he f*cks it up, it’ll close… so there ya go.

    • damien

      Yeah, I could see this going over well in Boston. I’d visit it for sure.

      They need to offer candy. American candy sucks balls. I want flakes, twirls, 99′s, etc…

  • bluegrass

    I was really hoping that without easy access to home equity loans to bankroll sales, like in the last decade, the cafe scene would avoid the rampant commercialism that happened to choppers. I Guess I was wrong.

    • Mark D

      Well, luckily, the only manufacturers who make cafe racers are Triumph and…sorta Norton. So everything else would just be supporting backyard tinkerers/restorers. And that’s good, no matter how amateur they are.

  • paul

    seems like “cafe racer” culture has gone pretty mainstream in the states, at least that’s how it looks from down under, I would feel kind of conflicted if every man and his dog here were into old UJM cafe racers, here but they are still uncommon and the ones you see tend to bikes people built in the 70′s or 80′s and have maintained since then. Still you can’t blame Mark from the Ace seeing a market and exploiting it, more checker tape anyone?

  • green-eyed bandit

    all the talk is noise. either you NEED to be ON the bike, or you NEED to be SEEN ON the bike. vive la differance! signing out from unhip SC.

  • austntexan

    Does anyone know who’s funding all this in the states? It can’t be Wilsmore alone can it? If someone says Trump or the Seminole’s, this will mark the beginning of the end.

    Sort-of like having a Route 66 themed diner in downtown London . . it’s still just a carbon.

    With F1/MotoGP coming to town, it seems almost like a sure thing he’ll want to put one here. Rat farts!

    I think a single ACE in the US would be cool, but 10? That just seems. . . American. Maybe they could put a Chilli’s right inside the ACE Cafes. . . offer Jalapeno Poppers and Southwest Egg Rolls. Double turds!!

  • Kerry

    While I don’t mind moto themed places to drink and eat the thing that gets me about this is NOT the tacky idea, but the fact that it is just playing fast and loose with history in order to exploit it. Everyone seems to forget the “Ace” was a truck stop – with all the things that go on in a truck stop. There is a fantastic 1961 book called “The Leatherboys” that doesn’t pull any punches as to what was really going on in that culture. I am not going to lie, it is a really homo-erotic book, but then again it was pitched as the “Romeo and Romeo in the london suburbs”. They made a 1964 movie about it which was tepid by comparison. And yeas there are bikes in it, racing, nortons, etc….

    The “Rocker” culture of that era as much stole their look from the boy prostitutes that hung out in truck stops like “the Ace” as it did from American rock and roll culture. A fact that seems easy for just about everyone to forget.

    For this to really be authentic and historically accurate they should have a leather jacket wearing priest hanging out in the parking lot trying to save your soul by joining his “youth club”.

  • frankieapples

    The ONLY thing that worries me about exploiting or over popularizing motorcycles is that popularity means more dumb non-invested riders, which can make the rest of us look bad. This gives credence to stricter laws related to motorcycling and crackdowns on enforcement.
    I know safety is important, but I hate that people who don’t ride care so much about whether or not I wear a helmet. Unfortunately there is a correlation between the neighbors complaining about the noise from bike-night burnout contests to helmet requirement legislation, and I for one do not want my freedoms limited.

    Sorry for the Soap Boxing there, but when the local Quaker Steak thought bike night were all about burn-out comps, they were loved by the look-at-my-bike crowd, hated by law enforcement and the real riders got targeted

  • T Diver

    This is a good thing. I’m not a Hipster but get over it people. It’s just another style. Stop being haters. Negativity gets noone laid. here’s an emonicon – :)

  • Brammofan

    A little birdie told me that the first location in the U.S. is going to be Seattle.

  • ogsurf

    Check the “Open Letter to the Ace Café” video at If the Ace can resurrect a shuttered, decaying, landmark like the Red Apple Rest I’m all for it.