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Don't Drink and Bike

Side Dishes: Donny's serves up soft drinks

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Every Tuesday night between 6 and 9 p.m., the sidewalk outside Donny's NY Pizza in Winooski is transformed into a showroom. Motorcycles of all varieties - from dirt bikes to racing bikes to Harley Davidsons - sit outside as their owners enjoy slices, bike racing or stunts on TV, and free fountain sodas. "We offer them free soda all night so we can keep them away from drinking beer and other stuff that doesn't go with riding a bike," explains Demetrios Michaelides, whose two sons Ioannis and Constantinos - both bikers themselves - own the eatery.

Demetrios, who helps out behind the bar at night when he's finished his shift at IBM, exclaims, "Every week we get more bikers." He estimates that there were 50 folks at last week's gathering, although Ioannis gives a more conservative figure of around 20. Says Demetrios, "There are all kinds of bikers. We have men and women. There are older people. There's a guy who must be in his sixties." And, of course, there are the youngsters, who spend their time "drooling" over other bikes and discussing "the last time they went to court for a speeding ticket," he says.

Where do they put all those hogs, given that the small city has limited parking? Winooski officials permit the bikers to park right on the sidewalk, provided they leave 42 inches of room so that wheelchairs can get by. "The police have no problems with it; the chief gave us the OK," Ioannis remarks.

Demetrios expects the Tuesday night crowd to swell as the word gets out, but he's got even bigger tailpipe dreams: He hopes to work with other area business owners to coordinate an event that will draw more than 1000 bikers to the small city. "They can park around the rotary, outside of the Champlain Mill," he imagines. "It's a good attraction to get bikers into the restaurant, and to make an event that hopefully people will remember a few years from now." Finally, good PR for the rotary.

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