A beloved coffee van has been ordered to shut their doors permanently after a member of the community made a complaint to council.
Meegan, 35, and Bayden, 29, sell coffees and cold drinks out of a refurbished horse float in the front yard of their home in Buddina, on the Sunshine Coast.
For almost a year Saintz and Sinnerz Coffee Co has traded without a hassle, serving their community and even working at council-planned events – until a council representative arrived at the owners' home on Friday informing them they had 20 days to cease trading.
“They said, ‘you can’t have this here, this is a fully fitted-out shop’,” Meegan told Yahoo News Australia. “But it’s not a shop, it’s literally a trailer. There are no proper mugs, you can’t sit down with a cup and saucer… You have to grab your drink and go. We’re not disrupting anybody, we don’t have a line out the gate on the footpath."
The couple said they researched the permits and licences needed to operate their business and believe all their documentation is correct and up to date.
“I double checked everything, I’ve worked with council people. We’ve done many council events and they love us. We don’t ask them for events, they approach us," Meegan said, explaining that her working relationship with the council has left her confused about why she is being asked to close down.
Some of the events that Sunshine Coast Council engaged Saintz and Sinnerz Coffee Co for include NRL games at Sunshine Coast Stadium, environment and beach clean up days, a craft expo in Caloundra and events at local libraries.
The couple run the cafe from 7.30am to 1pm Tuesday to Sunday, giving them flexibility as parents to two primary school-aged girls. They also operate a hair salon from their home.
“If I had to go and get a second job and go to work in the morning, I’d have to put my kids in before school care… they’re stuffing around a person’s whole life and earning ability,” Meegan said.
Dispute over sign behind closure, couple say
The business owners claim the shut down order only came about because of a complaint made by a another local.
It started with the woman's annoyance over a sign for the business set up about 100m down the street.
“She’s been smashing and vandalising and throwing our sign for months,” Meegan said. When she confronted the woman to ask what the issue was, the woman said she "doesn't think public advertising should exist". Just days later, Meegan was visited by the council representative and ordered to close – though council are unable to confirm who made the formal complaint.
'Really going to cost us'
As the holiday season approaches and the Sunshine Coast prepares to be inundated with tourists, Meegan fears they will be missing out on a peak trading time.
She would expect to sell up to 100 coffees per day on a busy morning, which means the family would be cut from “a lot” of business.
“If we can’t be trading that’s really, really going to cost us. And all because of a sign. It makes no sense.”
Customers of Saintz and Sinnerz Coffee Co leapt to the defence of the business when news of the shut down notice was posted to Reddit.
“This is so sad, they are around the corner from me and are so kind, can’t believe people are so petty to complain about a sign,” one customer wrote. “I’ve never noticed dramas with parking or anything outside the house. The beach is one street up and plenty of places to park. Just vexing to read this.”
“Wtf. They have the best coffee,” another said. “My daughter is friends with theirs which is how I got clued into it.”
Sunshine Coast Council responds
Sunshine Coast Council told Yahoo News that the coffee van can stay if the owners lodge a development application and it is approved.
"In November this year, Council received a complaint about a mobile coffee van which had set up on property," they said in a statement.
"The property is zoned Low Density Residential under the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014. Operation of a mobile coffee van is defined as a Food and Drink Outlet use. In order for the coffee van to operate legally from this property, a Material Change of Use development application would need to be lodged with Council and approved.
"The coffee van operators have been advised to cease activity, relocate to a more suitable premises, or lodge a development application to seek an approval for this Food and Drink Outlet use on this property."
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