Pomona cafe facing major loss due to 'ridiculous' demands
QUIRKY pet-friendly Pomona cafe SpillDEBeans claims to be at risk of losing 50 per cent of its customer base due to "ridiculous" demands set by Noosa Council.
While the business fronts onto Memorial Ave, it's the backgate and carpark that the majority of its customers use as access.
Owner Deb Vassallo has been in the space for four years and said many of her patrons walked through the back.
She said up to 70 per cent would come with their pets, and it also allows wheelchair and pram access.
But she claimed Noosa Council were forcing her to lock the backgate for safety reasons.
Council said it was down to a "breach of the development conditions".
"I've had four years with the gate open, and no incident or accident, it's ridiculous," Ms Vassallo said.
"It will cut down my business by half because people with dogs won't be able to get in.
"Pets are part and parcel of the cafe. We purposefully make it friendly for dogs," she said.
"I'd say 70 per cent walk through the gate with their dogs, sometimes with more than one.
"Small businesses struggle to start with, but this is something trivial. I'd have to lay off staff ore reduce hours."
She stressed that dogs were unable to access through the front section as the kitchen area made it unsafe.
Amanda Bennetts is a long-term customer of the cafe and said it was both insulting and disappointing to see.
Seven days ago she drew up an online petition in bid to change Council's decision.
The petition has around 1000 signatures, one third of Pomona's population.
"It's such a special place here. Pomona is a tight-knit community as it is, and this is the hub," Ms Bennetts said.
Environment and sustainable development director Kim Rawlings said council had received a complaint about the café in December 2015, claiming it was operating without approval and that unapproved building works had been carried out on-site.
"The rear of the existing building was extended, without building or planning approval, sometime in 2015," Ms Rawlings said via statement.
"The business lodged a development application in 2018 seeking planning approval for the coffee shop, and Council approved it in May 2018, subject to a number of conditions.
"These conditions required the business owner to rectify the unapproved building works and ensure customer access to the shop was via the Memorial Ave street front, as it is considered that Memorial Ave provides the safest access to the café for pedestrians.
"Council recently received a complaint about pedestrians accessing the rear of the building, in breach of the development conditions.
"In response, Council officers have reminded the business operator of the need to comply with the conditions of their approval.
"There is also still no building approval in place for the rear part of the building, with the structure not built in accordance with the National Construction Code.
"Council officers will continue working with the coffee shop operator to ensure the unapproved building works are rectified."