Southern California-based Active Ride Shop has collaborated with Mexican restaurant Wahoo’s Fish Tacos to provide a side-by-side fast-food/boardsport shop in Norco, California.
“What we’re doing is providing an amazing retail, food, and meeting point for people all over Southern California, explains Active’s Shane Wallace.
Ed Lee, Wahoo’s director of forward planning, explains the projected date: “We want to be up and running by December (2003), and Shane (Wallace) wants to be selling for the holiday season.
Norco, the horse capital of the U.S.A., is located in the central Inland Empire, the county east of Los Angeles, in between Chino, Riverside, and Corona. Wallace feels this location will appeal to all boardsports enthusiasts: “The location we picked is the gateway to all Southern California mountain resorts, Las Vegas, Mammoth, the beach, and many lakes and rivers.
Shane Wallace, son of Active Owner John Wallace, is in charge of the opening promotions at the Norco location and making sure everything runs smoothly: “My main objective is to make sure the store looks amazing, the image is elite, and people show up to this new action-sports phenomenon.
Both Active and Wahoo’s will remain in separate, though adjacent, units of a freestanding building. Lee explains, “We would love to be open to Active, with a sliding door or something, but health-department-wise, we can’t. We cook—I’m char-broiling all day, Lee says. “But we will do a lot of cross-promotion together. These promotions will include demos from Active skaters such as Eric Koston and Andrew Reynolds.
Southern California resident and blink-182 drummer Travis Barker will also be involved with this collaboration. Barker has been a longtime supporter of both Wahoo’s and Active Ride Shop. “He’s definitely going to be involved, says Wallace. “We’re totally stoked. As for Barker’s role in the merger, Wallace says, “Don’t be surprised if he works the register or makes fish tacos.
Wahoo’s connection to the boardsport industry was hardly deliberate. “Everyone thinks we’re geniuses, says Lee, “that we planned this thing out, but we didn’t—it was just by luck. I’ve always wanted to be a part of this (boardsports). It’s a great industry. Lee explains that Wahoo’s has a fifteen-year-old history with boardsports: “I grew up actually working in the surf industry. When we opened Wahoo’s, we didn’t have it in our minds that we were going to have this surf motif. We actually just opened (with) plain walls. But it was through Lee’s surf-industry connections that surfers were turned on to the restaurant.
Lee explains, “We had no real identity, except that we just thought people who surf down in Mexico were gonna eat fish tacos—they were the only ones who would even know about fish tacos at that point. Slowly but surely, several companies gave Lee packages of product—in exchange for Lee hanging a banner at the restaurant. “I knew (Hurley Owner) Bob Hurley from high school a little bit. We met with one of his VPs, and he was really stoked on the food, so he let us go to the warehouse and grab some clothes and a banner. We put it (the banner) inside the restaurant.
From there, other companies would exchange product for banner space, and in the process, Wahoo’s found its image.
Active currently has seven locations in the Southern California area. Wahoo’s has 30 locations throughout Southern California and in Colorado, with several more planned for 2004.
Whether this dual-opening will spark a trend of fast-food skate shops is yet to be seen. “I think this could be the first of many, says Wallace, “but we need to make sure this opportunity is a win for both parties.
Lee shares Wallace’s sentiments and would also like to open more restaurant/board shops in the future: “If this works out in Norco, then yes, I would love to do some more units—maybe then we’ll do a joint venture. But for this one, we’re tryinng to feel each other out. It’s just a matter of putting the business together.