The Meteor is a One-Stop Shop for Cyclists, Coffee Lovers and Wine Enthusiasts
The South Congress spot creates a welcoming space for fascinating people with varied interests
You know you’re in the right spot when you see the neon sign boasting “espresso, champagne, chain lube.” However, you might ask yourself, “How the heck do these things go together?”
Chris St. Peter, the co-founder and managing director of The Meteor, laughs when he gets this question. “It was really just a natural progression,” he says. “We wanted to smash up the things we loved.”
While St. Peter and Director of Cafe Operations Andrew Werth handle the day-to-day operations of The Meteor, which is a wine bar combined with a coffee house combined with a pizza joint combined with a bike shop, the inspiration came from St. Peter’s time riding bikes with co-founder Doug Zell, who also founded Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea and Allied Cycle Works.
St. Peter met Zell from his “previous life as a lawyer” working on Allied Cycle Works’ commercial and patent litigation, and the two quickly became cycling buddies. When they would go on rides together, St. Peter says they used to start off with a coffee beforehand and then end their day by sharing a bottle of wine. So when the idea was floated to open up a bike store in Arkansas, where the bike company was located, they knew they wanted to add a coffee component, and the wine portion naturally followed.
“With those three things, traditionally their cultures can trend towards pretentiousness, and we are very intentionally unpretentious,” St. Peter explains. “We want to be nerdy and have fun, but because they all coexist together in the same space, it breaks down those barriers.”
Eventually, they opened a second location in Austin in October 2019. Walking into The Meteor, which is nestled on South Congress, you’d never realize you were walking into an old gas station.
“There used to be a poker room in the back,” Werth says, laughing.
The space is bright and airy, thanks to a gorgeous remodel by Scott Magic and features plenty of windows and skylights to bring in tons of natural light.
“The demolition process was very rewarding in that it revealed layers and an original core that was just beautiful materials and structure that were always there but hidden under years of overbuild,” St. Peters says.
Right at the entrance, guests are greeted by more than 400 bottles of natural wine lovingly sourced by Werth. When The Meteor first opened, the wine section was much smaller to make room for the bike shop tucked away in the corner. But when the pandemic hit, the Meteor team knew they needed to expand their wine retail program. So when a storefront opened up one space over (there’s still a barber shop in between), they moved the bike service a few feet south. Now The Meteor feels almost like a wine library, with bottles stacked high up on shelves, covering the walls. There’s also a wine and beer fridge lining the side wall, next to the banquette seating, offering quaffable, chilled “porch pounder” bottles. The shop offers a wine club program, its own “Meteor Gang” labeled wine, and Tuesday night wine tastings.
In addition, there are plenty of bar stools lining the back wall, as well as two patios — one lining South Congress Avenue and another larger one in the back full of picnic tables and, mercifully, umbrellas, fans and misters. With the extra room for wine retail, which prices the bottles the same no matter if you imbibe on the premises or in the comfort of your own home, Werth says it’s the most family-friendly wine shop in town.
“It sounds weird, but it reminds me of going to the wine shop with my parents,” he laughs. “Kids can get a cookie or pastry while parents browse the shelves.”
The counter-service shop offers grub made for all day: from breakfast pastries and goodies to decadent sourdough pizzas — all of which is made in house.
Werth, who once ran an “underground pizza delivery service” in college, is self-admittedly passionate about pizza. He says if there’s a fourth faction of nerds to round out coffee, wine and cycling it would definitely be pizza.
“We put a lot of thought and love into our pizza, and it allows us to geek out on our ingredients,” Werth explains.
While the bike shop portion of The Meteor might be geared for the slightly more advanced cycling enthusiast — they offer custom built bikes and bicycle servicing — the coffee shop/wine bar is often the beginning or end point for regular community bike rides.
“We strive to be the front porch for the cycling community,” St. Peter says. “We’re Austin’s cyclists’ home base.” With a combination of wine, pizza, beer, coffee and bikes — including motorcycles — The Meteor is at the crossroads of the different slices of life that make the capital city so unique.
“It feels so quintessentially Austin with weird mash-ups that can only exist here, where you have kids doing homework after school, adults riding their bikes with their friends, and then a big gang of motorcyclists,” Werth says. “It’s the epitome of The Meteor: a big, beautiful mess of people with varying interests.”