The opening of Skittle Lane’s second outpost just before New South Wales went into lockdown could have – should have – been a disaster. To the pleasant surprise of the owners, husband and wife duo Jodie Foster and Dean Wooding, it was the opposite.

I first spoke to a heavily pregnant Foster at the new beachside site on a sunny weekday morning in late February, soon after it opened. Over lattes, sitting with our backs against the warm, sun-facing window, she talked excitedly about the roasting now happening on-site, the new packaging, the few lovely ceramics for sale, a third Skittle Lane outpost on the horizon, and plans to install steel frames on the windows to match those at the city flagship.

Then lockdown happened, putting a pause on the opening story (and Foster’s expensive window plans).

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Almost three months on from that hot summer’s day, we spoke again (this time on the phone at a safe social distance); me working from home in slippers, Foster walking her one-month-old baby, Rome, around the block, and Skittle Lane’s Bondi shop pumping at much the same rate as the nearby beach’s incoming winter swell.

“In February we were worried about how quiet it was,” Foster says, reflecting on the first few weeks of business. “Then the city closed, and Bondi went crazy. It’s been our saving grace,” she says. “It’s really spread our brand in the east, an opportunity we wouldn’t have had [otherwise].”

When the second shop opened 500 metres from the sand, it was only roasting Monday to Wednesday. Now it roasts every week day – “plus weekends when we need it”, Foster says. It’s selling a “shit ton” of beans. “When everything happened we couldn’t keep up with the demand, which was really cool.”

Skittle Lane takes its name from the adjacent laneway at its original CBD store (a historic site once used as a bowling alley by sailors and soldiers) and serves a rotating selection of single-origin beans for espresso and filter, with a pour-over for filter fans. It also does full-bodied seasonal blends – upping the coffee game for the beachside suburb.

As well as brews, you can pick up homewares, including Japanese-made Hasami Porcelain, In Bed linen, Kinto travel tumblers and brew gear, and Milly Dent ceramics (“dinner sets have been selling like nobody’s business”). It’s also one of the city’s biggest stockists of American coffee magazine Drift, and now sells Penny Fours pastries and Butter Boy cookies daily. Outdoor benches and stools are on the way, there’s talk of doing toasties, and a new website launches next month.

“The community support in Bondi is something we never expected,” Foster says. “We’re such a city brand. But the locals have been amazing. We’re so stoked.”

As for King Street? “The city’s been a bit of a shit show,” Foster admits. “Slowly it’s started to pick up, but it probably won’t go back to where it was for a while. There used to be a hundred people in that shop.”

But she’s not letting that put a dent in plans to open a third Skittle Lane store in Circular Quay next year. “It was all meant to happen this August, but it got pushed to Christmas. It’s been pushed again, but we’re definitely not pulling out [to March 2021].”

Skittle Lane Bondi
139 Curlewis Street, Bondi

Hours:
Mon to Fri 6.30am–2pm
Sat to Sun 7am–3pm

skittlelane.com