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Peddling bikes on Third Avenue Tonette Lyles | Sat, Feb 05 2011 12:00 PM

A taste of Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Mission Beach has come to Chula Vista. Beach cruisers, tandems, bicycles for kids and a variety of other bikes are available at South Bay Bicycles Inc. on Third Avenue.

After running a successful business in National City for 23 years, Steve Bandoian, the owner of South Bay Bicycles, decided to move his business to Chula Vista.

"I've always loved this part of Chula Vista," Bandoian said, explaining that he loves the village atmosphere and was immediately accepted by the Third Avenue Village and Chula Vista development planners who thought that it was the perfect business to move into the area.

The shop caters to families and kids offering bicycles that fit every stage of riding.

"Family cycling is so important, and when you start with a decent quality it will lead them their entire lives," Bandoian said.

Bonita resident Nora Wade, a longtime friend and customer of eight years, was glad that Bandoian moved his bicycle shop to Chula Vista.

"I am glad that he is closer," she said. Wade's son Victor, 15, is a frequent customer of South Bay Bicycles and she was there to "settle up" she said. She sent her son recently to purchase a helmet from Bandoian.

"He comes and hangs out here a lot, he will ride his bike from Bonita" she said.

Wade doesn't mind and says that it is better than other things he could be doing.

"He is great with kids and is a very positive influence," Wade said of Bandoian. "Every Christmas Eve he lays out a spread of food for his customers, the tamales they serve are from an old family recipe and they are so good," Wade said. The food and drink are somewhat of a tradition and goes on all day,

"The first beer is cracked open at about one and it doesn't stop until the last customer leaves," Bandoian said. As for Christmas Eve tamales this year, "We'll see how things go," he said.

The showroom, painted a bright yellow that Bandoian has an affinity for, and sporting a flat screen TV and black leather couch, is filled with kids bikes for girls and boys, tiny pink and blue ones for the little ones, beach cruisers and BMX street bikes in any color, some with Hello Kitty stickers all over them and others navy blue with flames blazoned across the sides.

The shop officially opened on Jan. 24 in the Chula Vista Junior Theater space. It is open seven days a week.

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