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HomeLatest NewsSaving their bacon: Dee Why seafront café not facing closure, but

Saving their bacon: Dee Why seafront café not facing closure, but

A long-running issue involving a café ban on cooking bacon and egg rolls has re-emerged, sparking misplaced angst that the popular seafront premises is closing, or no longer permitted to have dine-in customers.

An online petition was launched to ‘Save The Beach Shed’ at Dee Why earlier this week. The petition incorrectly states that dine-in was no longer available.

However the owner himself as well as Council confirm no such dine-in ban has been enforced.

Justin, who is a relatively new leaseholder-manager of The Beach Shed, revealed to Manly Observer that the issue stems from a lease compliance obligation, and that he is currently working on fresh menu options to attract customers. Essentially, he can’t cook hot food on the premises, only reheat food. Council is now enforcing this.

The beach-side café opens 6.30am in the morning, seven days a week, to cater to early morning swimmers, surfers, dog walkers and beach visitors.

A photo of The Beach Shed from their Facebook page.

HOW DID IT END UP LIKE THIS? IT WAS ONLY A DISH… IT WAS ONLY A DISH

At the start of June, Beach Shed Café, located on the southern end of the Dee Why beach-side promenade, stopped serving bacon and egg sandwiches. This was due to a stipulation in the lease that food was not permitted to be cooked on the premises, only reheated with a toaster and microwave.

Justin told Manly Observer that he initially raised the issue of preparing cooked meals with Northern Beaches Council earlier this year. This was because, after taking over the lease of the café in September 2023, he continued serving bacon and egg rolls, one of the most popular items on the menu, alongside freshly-baked cakes, cookies and filtered coffee.

Bacon and egg rolls have been a long-term staple of The Beach Shed, which was opened on 16 June 2014 by siblings Marcus and Melissa Svinos, who converted the former storage shed for Dee Why Surf Lifesaving Club’s boats into a cosy café. Previously it was a damp concrete box with a shower in the corner.

For example, in an online restaurant review published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 5 September 2014, a few months after the café first opened, the writer declared, “Eight choices are listed on the all-day brunch blackboard menu, including toasted muesli, bacon & egg roll, soup and a poached pear salad.”

The cafe at the southern end of the seafront promenade on Dee Why Beach. Photo: Alec Smart

However, the previous leaseholder, who managed several cafés in the area, apparently cooked food off-site and brought it in to be reheated.

But Justin revealed this option is problematic. Not only does he not have access to an off-site kitchen in close proximity, there are additional complications concerning collection and delivery, storing food within legal temperatures, and responding to peak demand on busy days.

Storm in a coffee cup

After Justin resolved to remove the bacon and egg rolls from the menu, rumours quickly spread on social media that Northern Beaches Council were secretly intending to terminate the café lease. Furthermore, claims were made that Council had ordered the removal of the all-weather tables and 20 outdoor seats along the promenade path.

Campaigners began rallying to ‘rescue’ the café, and discussions on social media argued that Council was behaving unreasonably.

The online petition on Change.org, utilising a photo from TripAdviser travel website, was titled Save The Beach Shed Cafe Dee Why. The petition claimed: “The owners of The Beach Shed Cafe have turned an empty and dilapidated concrete structure on one of the most beautiful urban beaches in NSW into a loved and welcoming part of our community.

“Northern Beaches Council has ruled that this stunning location can no longer serve sit down coffees, sunrise breakfasts and light meals, but must now only serve takeaways. A small group of critics have claimed the Cafe is an imposition on their daily lives. Help us save this vibrant part of our community and family business by signing our petition.”

Screenshot of the online petition calling on Council to save the Beach Shed Café.

Manly Observer visited Beach Shed Café and spoke to Justin, the leaseholder, to ascertain whether he was indeed at imminent risk of folding his business. Justin confirmed the issue centred on the cooking of food on the premises – specifically, the frying of bacon.

He added that he was communicating with Council to find the best outcome. In the meantime he has introduced more environmentally-friendly options like ‘keep cups’ instead of disposable ones (with reusable Beach Café-branded mugs available soon) and re-oriented the menu.

Justin confirmed the petition was inaccurate. A council spokesperson also admitted they were “baffled” by it.

Council sent the following statement to Manly Observer: “The Daily Grind Coffee Company, trading as The Beach Shed, has a lease agreement with Council for the premises and an active outdoor dining licence. There has been no change to these agreements. The business is responsible for any changes to their menu or service.”

We understand there are various restrictions on cooking hot food on the site on environmental grounds.

An amendment has since been added to the online petition by its coordinator: “UPDATE: Council has told news.com.au there are no changes to the operating licence of the Cafe. Fake news or backdown. Either way a good outcome.”

The Council spokesperson was perplexed by this claim of a ‘backdown’ and indeed the purpose of the petition. They insisted, “I don’t know how else to reiterate and stress there is no change in licensing, there is no change in DA [Development Approval – the lease conditions stipulate no cooking is allowed on the premises, which Council state they have no authority to modify], and there is no action from Council.”

The Beach Shed on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thebeachshed/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeachshed/

Hello Sydney Kids website rates The Beach Shed among the top ten best cafés on the beach on the Northern Beaches: https://www.hellosydneykids.com.au/11-best-cafes-on-the-beach-on-sydneys-northern-beaches/

Dee Why Beach c1918. The Beach Shed Cafe is approximately where the old shed is, in the centre. Photo: State Library NSW

 

 

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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