Coleen Bridges is the woman behind the mobile bars sure to make your next event a darling of Instagram.
by Caroline Portillo
Allow me to introduce you to Peaches. A year ago, she was serving espresso on the streets of Italy. Now she’s turning up at private functions around Charlotte, dispensing cold beverages from craft beer to cocktails, prosecco to root beer floats. And she can all but guarantee your next event (even a socially distanced one) is a hit on Instagram.
Local couple Coleen and Thomas “TJ” Bridges bought into the Get Cozy – Vintage Mobile Bars national franchise last October and started Bubbles & Brews Charlotte. Their calling card: an Italian Piaggio Ape they affectionately named “Peaches.” The three-wheeled commercial vehicle with seven taps and loads of customizable options is available for rent with rates starting at about $250 an hour. The host is responsible for providing the alcohol.
Before COVID-19, Peaches appeared at big weddings, gatherings for corporations such as Neiman Marcus and parties thrown by local luminaries, such as former Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and his wife, Natalie.
Now, in a world of mini-gatherings, masks and social distancing, Bubbles & Brews Charlotte has been forced to pivot. But the pivot is something Coleen Bridges knows all about: In her career, she’s worked as a golf coach, a medical-device salesperson, and a publicist for NBC, where she connected the press with the cast of hit shows Friends and Seinfeld. Most recently, she’s been running her late father’s Ohio-based automotive and commercial-refrigeration company from her home in Fort Mill, S.C. SouthPark caught up with Bridges to discuss the latest venture.
Comments were edited for brevity.
How did things change for you when coronavirus hit?
We went from “This is going to be an awesome year!” to “Holy cow.” Now we’re doing small backyard weddings with 10 people and birthday parties with 10 to 15 people. We’re doing neighborhood graduation parties, drive-through baby showers. We wanted to be part of people’s celebrations. There’s so much sadness right now, so it’s fun to see people go up and see Peaches and say, “Oh my gosh, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
So where’d the name “Peaches” come from?
Thomas and I held a “name that bar” event on Instagram. We wanted something that was cute but that tied into Charlotte and Fort Mill. We have a lot of peach trees in Fort Mill. We just acquired a second bar and held another contest. People said “You’ve got Fort Mill ties. Now do Charlotte, and call it ‘Charlie.’”
Love that. Tell me more about “Charlie.”
It’s a freestanding bar that’s totally customizable. It looks like it’s made from shiplap, but they are actually magnetic panels that can be branded. It has a kegerator, three taps, a serving station, a prep area for glasses and a chilling tub. It’s smaller, and a little cheaper. Whereas Peaches is too big to get on service elevators, Charlie can go anywhere. Say a corporation wanted to put kombucha on tap for employees. They could rent it for a day, week or month. We have a bar for everyone. SP