Iconic Oasis Bakery has won its seats back after the Murrumbeena eatery appealed successfully against planning rules.
The Middle Eastern café lost 48 chairs, more than half its seats, after neighbouring businesses complained to Glen Eira Council last year that customers were taking their parking spaces.
The council asked Oasis to reduce its chairs when it found the café was breaching planning laws, but today agreed to give the business 100 seats and 16 extra car park spaces.
Owner Ely Makool said he had erected signs asking customers to be patient, and admitted the business had outgrown its initial permit since it added the café to its retail establishment three years ago.
“To a certain extent customers have been able to forgive the inconvenience, but not being able to give them the seats has been detrimental to us,” Mr Makool said.
Mother of two, Natasha, said she avoided the café at weekends and lunch times because it was too busy. “I come in to shop and then visit the café, but with two small children, if there was no place to sit, I’d just leave.”
Regular customer, Cathy, said her family didn’t understand why the seats were removed. “We’ve watched the place grow over the years and thought the seating area looked exotic as well as being practical. Council are just being petty taking away the chairs.”
But the council’s community relations director Paul Burke said the planning permit was related to parking, which was in turn related to the number of on-site patrons the eatery could have.
“You could describe Oasis as being a victim of its success. Through no maliciousness on their part, they simply became very popular, and put out more tables and chairs. There were then complaints from other businesses that their parking was being taken up by the bakery’s patrons.
“Oasis are aware that they need to provide additional car parks and have to physically find more parking, and my understanding is that they’ve now done that,” Mr Burke said.
Mr Makool said he was elated about the result and increased seating. “Barring objections to VCAT over the next three weeks, we will also be providing the 16 extra car spaces in an adjoining building soon.”