Five months after two fires forced the closure of Bondi’s Porch and Parlour, the seaside eatery has reopened for business.

The blaze, which took seven fire engines and a return visit to contain, broke out on the cafe’s stovetop before spreading to the exhaust system and a wall cavity that was lined with old insulation. The cafe’s owners originally planned to reopen after a month or so, but it blew out because the destruction was more extensive than they originally thought.

The North Bondi favourite reopened on January 4, and co-owner Sam Smith says it’s been packed with locals.

“It’s been pretty full on,” he told Broadsheet. “While we were closed I couldn’t walk down the street without people asking me when we were going to open again.”

Smith says they took the enforced break as an opportunity to do some much-needed renovations, and to consider the direction they wanted the cafe to head in.

“We’ve had the cafe for eight years without a break, so it was nice to have a breather. It’s given us a chance to realise what is special about Porch and Parlour, and a chance to realise what we missed about it.”

This includes the community that has kept the venue full since it reopened, and where it fits in on the Bondi scene. Porch and Parlour’s other owners, Sarah Hendriks and Alex Relics, also took the time to think about the next stages of the business.

“It’s an evolution for us, the next stage of Porch.”

Smith says he’d like to have a Porch and Parlour book out by the end of the year. His plan is for it to include recipes and examine the Bondi lifestyle and community that surrounds the cafe, and to show off Porch’s “interesting customers … and the parts of Bondi that tourists don’t see”.

Regulars can still order old menu favourites such as the steak sandwich and veggie burger (“We can never take the pea pancakes off the menu,” he says of the cafe’s most popular item, “people are creatures of habit”), as well as some newbies.

Fresh dishes include the veggie patch “which looks like what you’d get from your home garden,” says Smith. From Friday to Sunday it’s serving drinks such as gin and tonic with lemon-myrtle shrub, and mezcal Margaritas from 4pm until 8pm.

“It’s an extension – or reflection – of our personalities,” Smith says. “It’s simple.”