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Hospitality- Cafe design

Byron Bay, NSW

2015 & 2018

Design | Documentation | Procurement | Construction Management

Bay leaf cafe hospitality fit out byon bay

PHASE 1 - 2015

How do you go about updating a local favourite and veritable hospitality institution? With respect and great care. The Bayleaf Cafe is the quintessential beachside cafe of Byron, so it was vitally important that any changes would enhance this icon and not alienate its loyal following.

The brief called for a complete reworking of the floor plan, including the integration of a long-forgotten storage room to create a new Brew Bar. Increasing the workflow and spatial efficiency was key to this project and an element that whitewood was able to achieve through the studio’s years of experience. By completely rethinking the workflow, the revitalised Bayleaf cafe offers a better experience for both customers and staff alike.

The design has taken the aesthetic and heritage of its past life and reinvigorated it in the 2015 incarnation. Beautiful green colours come together with natural timbers, and original details like exposed timber beams and exposed, white-washed brickwork. Whitewood wanted to make sure that the old space wasn’t forgotten, so elements have been integrated that celebrate the old space such as a custom communal table made from the old counter cladding, while the new counter features original pressed metal tiles. 

Being such a well-frequented icon, the Bayleaf cafe also upgraded the kitchen. A necessary part to any successful cafe, the refreshed Bayleaf includes all new equipment, and whitewood had all the services upgraded, keeping the cafe pumping, especially when summer and festival seasons roll around.

Cleverly fusing old and new into a welcoming and relaxing space, the Bayleaf cafe takes on a new era in its long-running history. It’s a Byron institution now fitted out with the latest in culinary and coffee delights.

Bay leaf cafe hospitality fit out byon bay outdoor
Bay leaf cafe hospitality fit out byon bay

PHASE 2 - 2018

Having already undertaken the first phase of the iconic Bayleaf café five years ago, whitewood was once again brought on board to further integrate a retail and takeaway business in the adjacent tenancy.


Although the takeaway offering was up and running as Leaf and Grain, it didn’t have the Bayleaf vibe that the café is renowned for. Part of the new project was to connect these two businesses in a visually cohesive way, while streamlining the flow across the three tenancies. Rather than specify all new materials, whitewood was judicious in using what was already there but making smart design decisions to bring it in line with the café. One way that whitewood achieved this was by reinvigorating the shopfront with new timber veneer panelling, as well as French-style doors and bi-fold windows – the new openings crucially bringing light and connection into the interior.


Other design devices that have added a sense of connection are two long custom timber tables that run the length of the building, which allude to the fact each section is part of a bigger whole. They also offer more seating options to an already bustling local hotspot. Internally a wall was punched through to connect the two tenancies and allow users to move between each of the spaces.


Part of the characteristic charm of the Bayleaf café is its worn-in and rustic aesthetic. And this was missing from the takeaway offering. Only when necessary were new materials integrated, and much of the process looked at how to utilise what was already there. An example being a cut-out in the existing recess behind the counter – enhancing the link between the chefs working in the kitchen and the food being ordered for takeaway.


A new addition to the space is the large display unit, fabricated in Tasmanian Oak and finished with reclaimed iron handles. The shelves are a welcome inclusion, allowing Bayleaf the space for a selection of gourmet food offerings that can be easily merchandised and showcased, which was something sorely missing before.    


Another inclusion that has enhanced the usable space for the café and the takeaway section is the integration of seating on the deck. Cushions and rustic-style timbers come together with fresh plants to create a comfy and enticing space for customers to enjoy the Bayleaf hospitality.


Ultimately, Phase Two of the Bayleaf evolution is about striking a fine balance between what was already there, and making sure the strong character and charm of the Byron Bay classic could shine through.


The final design outcome makes it clear that all three tenancies are connected through a cohesive and visually similar design language, all while not forgetting about functionality.

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