It’s the kind of flawless summer morning of which Chicagoans dream. We’ve pedaled our bikes over to Lakeview, where Michael Salvatore lives with his family above his coffee and bicycle shop. He’s clad in pajamas when he opens the door, and it’s clear we’re about to get an unfiltered look at the man’s morning regimen.
Salvatore’s day begins at 6 a.m.—a deceptively early time for the guy’s relaxed routine. The first thing he does is click on the television and get John Stewart to give him a morning briefing via last night’s Daily Show. He’ll whip up some exceedingly strong pour-over coffee in the kitchen, and once the show’s finished, hop online to brush up on what else is going on in the world. Then it’s an hour or so of work—bank statements, emails, calendar management. “Basically it’s wake up, make coffee, hit the computer, and toss the ball around with the dog in the alley when no one else is awake,” he explains. At 7 a.m., the silence is broken by three-year-old Bennett, trotting around the living room, chanting “Morning time! Morning time!” and singing “Why you gotta be so rude?” Koozie, the family dog, is hot on his heels.
Family is hard-wired into Salvatore’s method. In January 2012, he and his wife, Melissa, opened Heritage Bicycles and General Store—the kind of place you can get a cup of coffee and a flat tire fixed as a package deal. A combination store like this was a new concept in Chicago, but it was a move that made sense for Salvatore, a fifth-generation Chicagoan who grew up 10 minutes from the shop. “Our company has always been just what we’re about as a family,” he says. “Having it make sense to us is what matters. Some people may get it; some may not.” Bikes and coffee were obvious picks, too, as Salvatore previously owned Bowery Bicycles during his stint in New York. “Coffee is everywhere you go in the world, and bikes are accessible, too,” he says. “Once you start seeing the similarities you can’t stop.”
After a quick neck shave (Salvatore’s beard is an institution not to be tampered with) and a pee-break for Koozie, father and son are out the door, where the little man’s throne awaits on the back of his dad’s bike. “Most of the time, me and the boy go out to a new coffee shop, and I just enjoy my son and my morning,” he says. This time, however, they’re wheeling down the sun-dappled Lakeview streets on the way to Fullerton Beach, where they’ll split some juice and a pastry and listen to tunes on a Jambox.
“I’ll toss on some music, and we’ll hang out until he gets bored,” Salvatore says. Bob Marley’s lilting notes—“Every little thing is gonna be alright”—rise over the crashing waves as the two Salvatores walk down the pier into the sun, another Monday morning in the bag.