National team speed skater Hayden Mayeur trains six days a week — often twice a day — but when he’s not on the ice, the 23-year-old isn’t done work. This spring, he opened his own coffee shop on wheels in Calgary.
The Hayloft Cafe is not your typical food truck. It’s a small operation, a grey 1978 Citroën 2CV truckette that’s been carefully designed for selling coffee around the city.
The vehicle was imported from France in 2015. Mayeur bought it fully restored from Lionel Hondier, a 2CV restoration specialist based in Surrey, B.C.
“We already knew exactly what we wanted to do with it, but obviously we had to talk to Alberta Health,” said Mayeur. “Naturally, there’s not many antique vehicles that have been converted into food trucks in the province, which means that there’s no guidelines for us.”
With a 29-horsepower engine — less powerful than most motorcycles — the top speed of the Hayloft Cafe is 90 km/h. It’s about a fifth the size of a typical food truck and it’s equipped with custom-made equipment so that everything fits.
It might’ve been easier to use a full-size truck, but the iconic Citroën has a special meaning for Mayeur. When he was a child, he collected model cars, and he still has a palm-sized replica of the grey Citroën that now houses his business.
His dad is also French.
“I was trying to find a way to connect with my French lineage through my dad, and bringing one of France’s most classic, if not the most classic, car from France to Canada and turning it into a business was kind of my best way of of doing that,” said Mayeur.
Most business comes from booking events like weddings, show home openings and Stampede pancake breakfasts. It’s a way that Mayeur can balance being a barista with his commitments as an athlete.
“Being a national team speed skater, I don’t have time to sit on the side of the street and wait for people to come and get coffee,” he said. “I’m in full control of the hours of operation of the truck, and it allows me to work when I can work.”
Some days, he’ll cruise around to different fire halls around Calgary, offering free specialty coffee to firefighters.
Mayeur said that although speed skating fans love meeting athletes and hearing their stories, there are few opportunities to meet them.
“This is my way of connecting with the public,” he said.
In white block letters framed by maple leaves, the words “athlete owned and operated” are emblazoned on the side of the Citroën. It’s a point of pride for Mayeur, who has been on Canada’s national speed skating team for the past three seasons.
“Amateur sport doesn’t really make a lot of money these days. It’s very down to the wire,” said Mayeur. “Essentially, all our money ends up going back into what we’re doing because we love what we do. I built this truck so that I could have another source of income that I don’t necessarily need to take from but that I can set aside for the future.”
With files from Paul Karchut and the Calgary Eyeopener.
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