Byron Beach Cafe owner Ben Kirkwood.
Byron Beach Cafe owner Ben Kirkwood. Patrick Gorbunovs

Custom design adds taste

BUSINESS is booming at the Byron Beach Cafe since it reopened earlier this month.

The iconic cafe took a four-week break to renovate its interior and deck area, dividing the original 'one size fits all' cafe space into three different function areas.

"The new design provides lots of variation," owner Ben Kirkwood said.

"People can grab a takeaway coffee or ice-cream from the front kiosk or sit inside for a coffee and cake.

"About 70% of people come for a full breakfast or lunch and that is now served on the back deck."

The cafe, which overlooks Byron's famous surf and Julian Rocks, was completely reworked in 2007 under the ownership of Mr Kirkwood and his wife, Belinda.

"We've had the benefit of five years of hindsight and thought about what areas are now in need of improvement," he said.

"We have weddings and large functions and the design needed to work, so we have opened the space and have one big area with bi-fold doors opening onto the back deck."

Over the past five years, the cafe had gathered feedback from customers who had filled in tens of thousands of surveys.

"In summer, customers fill in up to 300 surveys each week, so we are revisiting how we do things on a regular basis," Mr Kirkwood said.

Input from focus groups was also used in the cafe's redesign.

"We have been able to listen carefully to what our customers want - whether it's a breakfast in the morning after a surf, a quick takeaway coffee, or a long weekend lunch," he said.

The new interior struck a balance between the old and new, with wood-panelled walls crafted from 100-year-old reclaimed Sydney Harbour piers and natural stone bench tops.

"What I've learned from the past 15 years of running restaurants is you have to reinvent yourself every few years otherwise you go stale," Mr Kirkwood said.

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