Work, play and pizza at Coastal Empire Moto. Words by Alexis Orgera. Photography by Mike Schalk.
Visit Coastal Empire Moto on any given day and you may find a toddler bouncing around the front office, a French bulldog riding passenger on a motorcycle, a traveler detailing her cross-country loop, a local architect talking shop after work, or a neighbor getting a weld repair on his truck’s grill. Or you may find three guys standing around a naked motorcycle frame, contemplating their next move. It just depends on the day.
It began in the spring of 2016 when these three men from different walks of life, drawn together through a shared passion for vintage motorcycles, took a huge risk and opened a vintage motorcycle shop on Bull Street. Each of them will say they just wanted to fix, build, and ride motorcycles, but what they created in the process looks like a whole lot more.
Aaron Reed, Mike Garcia, and Ronnie South expected Coastal Empire Moto to be an epicenter for adventure: a starting point for weekend dirt bike trips, group rides around the Lowcountry, and evening get-togethers at the shop featuring music, bikes, and Big Bon Pizza. What they didn’t count on was the community of young enthusiasts drawn to the guys’ passion for the craft and who are, likewise, drawn to the unique adventure of learning to take an engine apart or clean a carburetor for the first time.
Mentoring SCAD students through their senior projects or encouraging one of the permanent interns has become just as much a part of shop culture as the continuing adventure of getting 45-year-old motorcycles running again.