Roberts Cycle started out in a building across the street from its current location. Around 1913-1914 the building housed a Nickelodeon theater known as the Casino Theater where, according to a long time resident of Rogers Park, Fanny May Candies began when the girl who sold tickets made candy in the basement to sell to the to the customers.The mosaic tile on the floor in the front of the shop was part of the lobby and some of the original molding can still be seen on the ceiling and walls. Remains of the original floor studs for the sloping theater floor can still be seen in the basement and the pulley wheels used for raising and lowering the movie screen are visible in the ceiling crawl space. Roughly 80 years ago, the first bike shop at this location was started by a man called John Engstrom. The shop was called North Shore Cycle Store and was started in the early thirties. It was one of the first bicycle shops on the north side of the city. The bicycles he sold were coaster brake and hi-wheelers. A form of the original phone number (now 80 years old), BRiargate 9281, is still in use today.
60 years ago, in 1955, Bernard and Estelle Garber purchased the shop at 7053 N. Clark St. which at the time dealt in both bicycles and hobbies although there were only half a dozen bicycles in the shop. They gradually built up the shop and renamed it Roberts Cycle after one of their sons. One half of the store was used for hobbies and bicycles while the other (7051 N. Clark St.) was a combination hat and dress shop. In the mid sixties, Mr. Garber took over the hat shop and expanded the business to include chemistry equipment and chemicals. He was one of the first people in the city to sell 10-speed bicycles. Some of the imported brands he carried were Fiorelli, Frejus, Coppi, Legnano and Masi..
Kris Petersen started working for Mr. Garber in 1972 which was the beginning of the bike boom. In 1979, Mr. Garber sold the shop to Mr. Bonomo and Mr. Petersen. At that time, Rberts Cycle carried Peugeot,
Raleigh, Gitane, Sekai and Beacon Bicycles. There was also a complete selection of touring and racing frames and equipment which included such names as Holdsworth, Colnago, Eddy Merckx, Romic, Alan, Campagnolo,
Gippieme, Stronglite and many others.
During that same year, the shop began a program of touring equipment rental. In the first few months that included bags and basic equipment and expanded to include camping gear such as tents, stoves, food stuffs,
etc. The shop also carried a selection of racing and touring clothing such as jerseys, shorts, and rain gear.
In the late sixties, Richard Bonomo was working for Arky's cycle on Glenwood. In 1970, he started working for Mr. Garber who was expanding his selection of bicycles to include Raleigh, Peugeot, Gitane and eight to ten other brands. He also built up his selection of frames to include Jack Taylor, Bob Jackson, Fiorelli, Masi, Cinelli and several others.
Roberts Cycle expanded to include a department dealing in electronic repairs and called it Delta Audio. Repairs covered both home entertainment equipment such as TVs and stereos as well as commercial equipment such as amps, PAs, and sound equipment. David Kramer was the head technician and he, Mr. Petersen and Mr. Bonomo were all educated at DeVry. Mr. Kramer has since moved on and is now married with two children.
In June of 1986, Roberts Cycle moved across to the west side of Clark Street to the present location of 7054 North Clark Street.