Trouble bRUing in North Bondi
Move over Home and Away, because a real life soap opera is currently taking place in North Bondi. For over a year now a number of small local businesses have been hit with endless complaints forcing them to reduce trading hours, remove outdoor seating and deal with a lot of red tape.
At the centre of the drama is bRU Coffee, a little local take-away coffee shop. Loved by locals, it’s the kind of place where the staff know their regulars’ names, as well as the names of their dogs and children.
The sorry saga began with a number of complaints to Waverley Council about a patch of trees and seating on the street. After investigating the matter, Council determined that the ‘garden’ was non-compliant. Following a petition from locals opposed to any changes, an officer spent six months investigating and trying to come up with a compromise that worked for everyone. Eventually it was replaced with grass, but the complaints didn’t end there.
Since then, the coffee shop has dealt with complaints about trading hours, bin placement, mug-borrowing policies and window seating, to name a few. The nearby local grocers were forced to remove their on-street fruit and vegetable displays and a local restaurant reportedly had to change their kitchen operations following complaints about oven smells and fumes.
Although none of the business owners wanted to go on the record for this story, the general consensus among the people we spoke with was that these complaints have been driven predominantly by one person.
Phoebe, the general manager at a local restaurant, told The Beast that while the business she works for was happy to comply with any regulations or investigations, she personally finds the effect it’s having on smaller businesses and the community to be upsetting.
“It’s a community and a family in North Bondi,” Phoebe explained to The Beast. “It’s all very well that this person speaks up and shares their frustrations but there needs to be an end point, and so far it just hasn’t stopped – it’s killing small local businesses.”
Belinda, a North Bondi local, has lived in the area her entire life and shares a similar view.
“We are all walking around on eggshells and we are afraid of this person. They take photos of people outside the cafés and it’s just putting everyone on edge. We all joke that this is just what Sydney has become, but is that really what this has come to? If we can’t party at night then please just let us have a coffee and a chat in the morning!”
Although many readers of this magazine are sick and tired of local narks complaining about everything, we can certainly sympathise to a degree. After all, not everyone is a morning person, and having people lined up outside your apartment at the crack of dawn waiting for coffee is probably quite annoying. And if there are genuine health concerns surrounding the emission of fumes from nearby restaurants, then any resident is within their rights to highlight these to local authorities.
Having said that, when living in close proximity to a hub of cafés and restaurants, people should expect some level of disturbance – that is a reality of living in this wonderfully vibrant area. Many people choose to live here precisely because of the buzz of the café culture, and when endless complaints are lodged against the businesses that create that atmosphere, one has to wonder if there is any kind of compromise that can keep everyone happy. If not, where will this all end?