Australia's first cafe skip opens in Geelong

Tip-top idea: Helen and Trish Brosnan in the parklet pod outside their Geelong business, James Street Bakery.
Tip-top idea: Helen and Trish Brosnan in the parklet pod outside their Geelong business, James Street Bakery. Photo: Gail Thomas

Fancy eating lunch in a bin? Geelong company Spiire is recycling skips for outdoor cafe seating, and it already has its first customer.

Geelong's James Street Bakery is the first business in Victoria to showcase the innovative idea, which the designers are calling parklet pods. 

"We had been negotiating with council for a couple of years for alfresco dining and they offered us one to use," says the cafe's co-owner, Helen Brosnan. "The pods will accommodate 15 diners, are designed to fit into one car space so there's no need for bollards or traffic control and we rent the car park space.

"While the pods can be designed in various ways, we opted to have timber benches around the perimeter with a metal floor, two umbrellas and a planter box at one end."

The parklet pod trial is part of a Geelong council revitalisation project and more are expected to pop up throughout the city's CBD.

Matt York, Spiire's principal landscape architect, came up with the idea of recycling the six-metre skips. He says James Street Bakery's execution was the first cafe skip in Australia. 

"The pods can be used for temporary dining, seating or play elements," York says.

"The bakery needed alfresco seating in an area that couldn't accommodate that as it is a narrow street. As the pod could be placed in single parking bay without disrupting any infrastructure, it provided a low cost and low capital outlay solution."

After a thorough clean, the skip has been kitted out with recycled timber benches, non-slip metal flooring and a planter bed that doubles as a bollard. An anchor at each corner allows the bin to  be wound up or down to accommodate kerb and channel height differences.

"We did all the design specifications and managed the manufacture and fabrication process on behalf of the City of Greater Geelong and the bakery," York says. "It has created huge interest and is a smart solution that is not capital-intensive as it can be painted in any colour or clad in timber to reflect a brand of a particular business activity."

And how do James Street Bakery's customers feel about eating in a skip?

"Everyone's been really positive about it. It looks a bit edgy and exciting. It brings a bit of San Francisco to Geelong," Brosnan says.