New owners of ‘Rudy’s’ bike shop in Portage Park plan to continue the store’s tradition of success
by BRIAN NADIG
Known as simply as “Rudy’s” by many of its customers, a bike shop has been located at 5711 W. Irving Park Road in Portage Park since 1937, and its new owners Owen and Nancy Leflar hope to continue the store’s success for many more years.
“We just want to keep the legacy in place,” said Owen Leflar. “We’re going to keep the name too. Everyone knows it’s ‘Rudy’s.’” And the store’s mechanics are staying.
The shop’s full name is Rudy’s Cycle and Fitness, but it was initially Lundin’s Bike Shop and was renamed Rudy’s Schwinn Cyclery in 1961, when Rudolph Kubica, a World War II veteran, purchased the business. He and his brother Paul worked at the Schwinn Bicycle Company factory.
For a brief time Rudolph and his wife Myrtle lived behind the storefront with their five children sharing one bedroom and the parents sleeping on the pull-out sofa.
Rudy Jr. worked with his father while growing up in the area and attending Saint Patrick High School, and in 1984 he took over the family business when his father retired, and he and his wife Debbie were running it until the change of ownership on Feb. 17. Over the years the store has been expanded three times, now measuring 6,500 square feet.
Rudy, who plans to keep busy doing as much bike riding as possible during retirement, said that one of his fondest memories is the success of the annual Father’s Day bike ride which the store sponsors in conjunction with Eli’s Cheesecake, attracting hundreds of participants.
Rudy added that his final months running the business have been busy, as bike riding is as popular as ever since it is an outdoor activity that allows for social distancing during the pandemic. He said that he has been ordering equipment months in advance in order to keep bikes in stock, as the industry boom has led to shortages and long delays.
Leflar said that while the pandemic has caused a boom in the bike industry, his other business, Majestic Paws, has experienced a slowdown as more people are working from home and don’t need a dog walker. He said it was the perfect time to take on a second business and that he and Nancy are looking forward to meeting the community and carrying on the tradition of Rudy’s.
Pictured are Rudy Jr. and new owners Owen and Nancy Leflar