Queue conflict in cafe: when latte line becomes disputed territory

They say customers are constantly picnicking in front of their property and stomping on the curb and dumping leftover coffee. At least one resident says he has given up working from home because of the constant chatter coming from the street.


A neighbor who did not want to be identified said up to 80 people were outside her property waiting for takeout orders over the weekend.

“I have lived in the city center for 40 years. I fully support cafes and small traders in the area,” she said The age

†[But] I am against anyone who serves people outside their buildings. In my view, people should not be allowed to serve outside the perimeter of their permit.”

Frustrated residents have resorted to telling the customers queuing up on the footpath, a move that has prevented some regulars from returning to the eatery.

Florian has tried to solve the problem by queuing customers away from nearby properties, but once customers are outside the cafe’s boundary area, there’s little staff can do.

On Monday mornings, customers line up for Florian Eatery.Credit:Eddie Jim

Yarra City Council regulations allow customers to queue on the street outside a location while waiting for their order or a table.

Local laws only restrict the placement of tables, chairs and other infrastructure on the footpath and require that they be placed at least 1.5 meters from the building line to ensure accessibility.

The decal on the footpath is the latest attempt by the municipality to mediate in the dispute, which began in November 2021.

A spokeswoman for the council said officers had visited the area several times in the past seven months to investigate neighbours’ concerns.

“The Council has been working with the cafe and the neighbors to resolve this issue. Both parties were cooperative and satisfied with the decision to install a sticker,” she said.

The sign is unenforceable, meaning those on the red line will not be fined.

Mario Di Ienno, one of the owners of nearby Gerald’s Bar, said the council should have defended customers’ right to stand on the street.

“I don’t understand what the big problem is. If there was violence, mess, spitting, all that stuff, then yes,” he said The age.

“But this is a cafe and on the sidewalk and grass strip people are waiting for takeaway coffee. What’s the problem?”

Di Ienno, who has been trading in the area for 15 years, said neighbors’ attitudes towards Florian were disappointing, especially after two years of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“If you don’t like it, don’t live in the city center. There is traffic, there is noise and autumn leaves fill the gutter. This is where we live.”

Andrew Butt, an associate professor of urban planning at RMIT, said the use of public spaces in cities has always been problematic.

“There’s a point where we just have to accept that the public street is for public use, and sometimes that effectively means hanging out, if you like, waiting for service. And that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.”

“This is what a vibrant neighborhood looks like,” Butt says. “We’ve seen what it looks like when the city is empty, and it’s not a very desirable type of city.”

Half a dozen customers were waiting for their takeout order then The age visited the St this week. Some stood outside the cafe’s confines, but no one could be seen blocking or rummaging in nearby properties.

The owners of Florian Eatery declined to comment.

With Carla Jaeger

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