A double-decker bus that for years was a downtown fixture is up for sale.
Kevin Traptow, who ran Cool Beans Coffee Company Inc. café out of the 1962 British Lodekka double-decker from 2010 to 2017, has moved on to another career and has decided to part with his distinctive bus.
The local entrepreneur bought the bus in 2009 and converted it into a coffee shop. It became a popular downtown landmark and java stop for thousands over the years. A patio built out front would be packed with java junkies on sunny days and swing dancers would show their stuff on regular evenings.
Traptow also started Food Truck Fridays that eventually saw the entire vacant lot next to Gaetz United Memorial Church ringed with more than a dozen vendors until it moved out of the downtown for the 2018 season.
While the bus was popular, it became a frequent target for thieves and vandals in the last couple of years he was operating it. Unable to get insurance and disheartened by the ongoing maintenance, Traptow reluctantly drove it away in 2017 and parked it.
Now that close to six years has passed, he decided it was time to leave that part of his life behind and he put the bus up for sale this week on Facebook Marketplace in Calgary and Red Deer.
The response has amazed him.
“I wasn’t expecting much. I thought I might get a few comments like ‘interesting’ or whatever. But I wasn’t expecting the reaction there has been.”
He estimates just through Facebook alone he has probably had around 150 messages from all over Alberta.
The bus has had an interesting journey. Starting out as a school bus in Manchester, UK, it eventually found its way to the U.S., where the owner took it all over the country. It also served as Minnesota State University’s football team’s bus before becoming a tourism bus for Fargo, North Dakota.
It was there that Traptow bought the bus and he and his son drove it from there to Red Deer, where it became the Cool Beans coffee shop. It became a true family business with his wife and all six of his children involved over the years. He also converted a pair of Volkswagen minivans into mobile coffee shops that hit area farmer’s markets and other events.
Traptow was going to show the bus to some prospective buyers on Friday.
The new owner will have to be someone willing to put in a little work to restore the bus. Some vandalism damage needs to be repaired and a few other fixes made to return it to its former glory.
“It just requires a lot of vision and a lot of passion for what you want to make it into,” he said.
There have been a few interesting proposals. Some who have reached out envision keeping it going as a café. One of the more interesting queries came from a couple who used to ride in a similar bus as school children in Manchester. They see its potential as a tiny home.
Traptow no longer has his minibuses either. The first he sold in 2018 to a Red Deer buyer who painted it to look like the Mystery Machine bus from Scooby Doo. He continued to take the other bus to the public market and other events until he sold it about 18 months ago.
Traptow now works in the oilpatch as a private contractor delivering water for fracking.