Timing of Pass Cafe closure by trust questioned
It’s got nothing to do with a downturn in business. The move has been forced on long-time operator of the cafe, Josy Bassett, and her family by the Cape Byron Trust, which manages the site.
The trust says that after a number of years of extensions to operating arrangements, it is closing the cafe to allow maintenance and a review of the longer-term suitability of the building for use as a cafe to be carried out.
Trust chairperson, Yvonne Stewart, said the trust was seeking to improve visitor facilities at The Pass and was investigating options to continue to provide improved services for visitors.
Ms Stewart said the trust was aware there might be some inconvenience caused by the cafe’s closure and it would be working towards providing a refreshment facility as soon as possible.
“We are keen to ensure that the best outcome is achieved through consultation with the community,” she said.
“Together, we have an opportunity to work out the best option for providing refreshments and visitor facilities at this very special place.
“We need to get it right for the future.”
But Ms Bassett, who has operated the cafe for 15 years with her daughter Katy and son Josh, has questioned the reasoning behind the trust’s decision.
She said her 10-year lease with the trust ran out five years ago and she had been operating on six-month increments since.
The trust had told her it needed vacant possession to carry out a building inspection, she said.
But it would have been possible, she said, to inspect the building and keep the cafe operating at some level.
Ms Bassett said she also couldn’t understand why the cafe couldn’t remain open until the trust had made a final decision on the building’s future after the public consultation.
“They didn’t give me a choice to leave it open,” she said. “To me that is ludicrous.
“They are closing down a bit of Byron Bay. It could be closed for 12 months.
“It’s a beautiful facility for everyone to enjoy and it’s a little bit of Byron Bay left that has not been commercialised and sits in with the environment.
“It works and they are shutting it down.
“They could leave it open until they decide what they are going to do with it
“I would like the community to know this is happening and make the trust commit to what they intend to do and when they intend to do it.
“It’s not about me. It’s about keeping a facility there for the people.”
Ms Bassett said parts of the cafe might look run-down because she had not been able to do any forward planning for five years.
“Why put money into something if you can’t get it back?” she said.
Ms Bassett said there were regular customers who were ‘absolutely mortified’ that the cafe would be closed.