Yet another popular establishment has fallen victim to prescriptive City of Sydney regulations, with Potts Point cafe La Croix closing its doors.
“We have closed as we are no longer able to continue to operate under council’s unreasonably restrictive conditions”, the cafe’s website reads.
Cafe co-owner Annie Wilkes describes it using terms of warfare. She said council went to extraordinary lengths to “force our final hand in defeat”. Since opening, the cafe had become a local haunt for all ages and was considered by the community as one of the “greats”.
One of La Croix’s familiar faces, who wished to remain anonymous as she also owns a hospitality business on council property, says she “understands their pain and can sympathise with their situation”.
“My husband and I have been dealing with the same council regulations for years and only out of submission have we kept our doors open,” she said. “We just had to jump through their hoops.”
One hoop through which Ms Wilkes and her partner refused to jump was with regard to a “potential” noise complaint. A resident filed a complaint with council about the potential for noise from the outdoor seating of La Croix.
“We were then told to get a noise pollutant report which was going to cost us between $18,000 to $25,000,” Ms Wilkes told the Inner West Independent. “And this was based on a complaint about ‘possible’ noise.”
After standing their ground, they felt unfairly targeted. “We had some really lovely decorative words like ‘Paris’ and ‘Chandelier’ put on the windows but we were told it was graffiti and that we had to remove them.”
Finally, it was an issue regarding outdoor seating and toilets that wore the owners down to a point of no return.
“Business was picking up and the locals loved the cafe so we applied for additional seating in our outdoor section,” Ms Wilkes said. “We were told that in order for our request to be granted we would have to install two additional toilets.”
After determining they could not afford the installation, and considering their previous grievances with council, the La Croix owners made the decision to close. “We simply knew council would make it impossible for us to further our venture, so we cut our losses”.
A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said they had been in negotiations with the business about relaxing some of the NSW Land and Environment Court’s conditions, but “La Croix elected not to proceed”.