Burnaby coffee shop wins battle with the city to add tables and chairs

A South Burnaby café issued a victory tweet on Wednesday.

The JJ Bean location in a South Bend industrial park on North Fraser Way says it has finally been allowed by the City of Burnaby to put out tables and chairs for its customers.

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“South Burnaby, rejoice, and take a load off,” the company tweeted.

It was a lengthy saga. The company had previously started a petition to urge the city to allow the tables and chairs.

JJ Bean South Bend serves coffee and baked goods, but zoning rules didn’t allow it to give its customers a place to sit and enjoy the items. The outlet is connected to the company’s near 15,000-square-foot warehouse, where it primarily makes mixes for the baked goods sold at its cafés around the region. 

JJ Bean CEO John Neate told the NOW in March he was surprised to learn the site’s comprehensive development zoning allowed retail sales of food items but not seats. Adding chairs and tables would define the store as a café or restaurant, he learned. 

When he asked the city about changing the zoning, Neate said a planner told him city council would be unlikely to approve such a request. 

 

The City of Burnaby’s Grant Taylor told Neate in an email that the city had studied the area and determined it didn’t need a new café.

The current land-use rules in Big Bend are in place “to ensure that the proposed restaurant is not of a broad orientation, would draw customers from outside the industrial area, and is not in close proximity to any existing restaurants/cafés already established in a given area,” Taylor wrote. 

But planning staff eventually struck a new tone, supporting Neate’s rezoning request, which would allow up to 50 seats at the café. 

A report to council acknowledged there are two food outlets near the JJ Bean – Conte Foods and the Avalon Dairy Farmhouse Kitchen – but said “they are both considered to be significantly different in nature from the proposed café with respect to the menu items that are served, and are not considered to be in direct competition with the proposed cafe.” 

City council then voted unanimously in June to direct staff to keep working with JJ Bean on its application and to advance the rezoning request to a public hearing. 

And now, customers have a place to sit.

  • With additional reporting by Kelvin Gawley

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