Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines on Venice Bike Tours’ Anthony Panzica.
The Venice Paparazzi’s “In the Spotlight” is an interview series that highlights people and organizations in the Venice community. The purpose is to shine a light on all the positive things being done by the fantastic folks in our town!
How many years in Venice?
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I came to live in Venice after college in 1987 and started working as an actor shortly thereafter. Along with my 16-year career in Venice as an actor and James Dean impersonator, I’ve also run several businesses along the way, including an aquarium service, an event transportation company, a free drunk driving program, and now, a bicycle tour company called, “Venice Bike Tours.”
Additionally, I performed as a trick ball handler in 10 national basketball commercials for corporate giants like Nike, Pizza Hut, Reebok, and LA Gear, to name a few.
Tell us about your company:
Venice Bike Tours is a bicycle tour company that has been in operation since 2015.
We offer two and three-hour bike tours of Venice, Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, California.
- Morning tour begins: 10:30am
- Afternoon tour begins: 2pm
Book your tour at VeniceBikeTours.com
Our tours showcase all of the major attractions in the area, including Muscle Beach, Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Canals, Abbot Kinney Blvd, and places of interest and landmarks visitors would never see on their own.
How it works:
Tour participants all receive a beach cruiser bicycle, basket, helmet, lock, free face mask, and cold, bottled water before the tour begins. All of our guides are trained locals and very knowledgeable about all things related to Venice.
How long in business, and how did you get started? Where did the idea or inspiration come from? And, how did you come up with the name?
I started VBT in May of 2015 after years of tossing around the idea of running a tour business in Venice – I always showed my friends and family around the beach who would come to visit me, and I realized right away that I really enjoyed doing it. So I drew up a business plan back in 1996 to start a walking tour company in Venice but never ended up pulling the trigger. I revisited the idea again in early 2015 and drew up another business plan, this time for a bike tour company instead. We did our first bike tour within 2 weeks and haven’t stopped since Covid hit.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’d say my basketball career is first because it took a lot of hard work to get to where I did on the court – just about every coach I ever played for told me I should play another sport because I’d never excel at hoops because of my size – I knew they were wrong though, and eventually I proved it, which was a great feeling.
The other accomplishment I feel good about is the non-profit organization I started in 2003 called “Scooter Patrol,” which was a free, drunk driving service I thought up that transported intoxicated people home in their vehicles for free. We did this by putting a folding, motorized scooter in the trunk of the drunk person’s car and we then drove them home in the passenger seat of their own vehicle. Once arriving safely, we would return the keys to the owner, retrieve the scooter from the trunk, unfold it and ride away.
We transported over 12,000 people safely using this method in 6 years, and were the first ever to provide this type of service for free – I feel good about this accomplishment because I worked hard to build it and I’m sure we saved at least a couple of lives in the process – which is a big deal.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your field?
The tourist industry in Los Angeles is one of the most competitive on the planet, so make sure you stand out in some way that separates you from everyone else.
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?
Mostly, I’ve just tried to be open-minded, positive, and flexible during these crazy times – every time I have found myself getting down in the dumps about this pandemic, I try to think about the people who’ve lost everything and realize how fortunate I am to even be breathing – this is a great time for me to be grateful and count my blessings in my opinion.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, sales, promotions, etc.
We’ll be starting the Summer 2021 tour season on Friday, June 18th, 2021. Book now at VeniceBikeTours.com.
View photos of happy Venice Bike tour clients.
Success to me is living, learning, progressing, and treating the people around me well – I’d rather be surrounded by good friends and family and wake up happy every day than anything.
What is the best advice you have received:
“Life is not a race, do your thing and don’t worry about what others are doing or saying.”
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
“God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we speak.”
All Creatures Great and Small. By James Herriott
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments:
One of my favorite hobbies is catching and studying snakes. I caught my first snake when I was eight years old and have been doing it ever since.
Venice is a beautiful place that’s full of great people – I’m very fortunate to be part of such a dynamic community.
What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?
Since I couldn’t run my business, I’ve been traveling the United States with my pup, “Luca” and staying as far away from big cities as possible.
Craziest or fondest Venice moment?
Playing basketball in Venice with some of the best players in the world on a Saturday afternoon in the early 90’s with thousands of people watching and cheering, and putting on a great show for them – I’m also grateful for being inducted in to the Venice Basketball Hall of Fame by the legendary basketball tournament Promoter, Ken I. Hicks – it’s really nice to be recognized after all these years .
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say?
Venice is the most unique beach on planet earth, and I’m blessed to be part of this beautiful community – thank you for everything, Venice – all the lessons, opportunities, and great times I’ve had here over the years have made me who I am today.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?
My good friend Kristen Archival comes to mind –
Kristen has been the General Manager at The Sidewalk Cafe for well over 20 years and cares about Venice a lot.
How can one find and follow you?
- Website: VeniceBikeTours.com
- Instagram: Photo courtesy of Venice Bike Tours
- Email: [email protected]