A true local legacy of coffee, baked goods, and community spirit
When you approach Flour & Co in Toowoon Bay you can immediately see it is a meeting place with a truly authentic local vibe, and it has a 30-year family history behind it that’s being kept alive.
The shop has been a working bakery since the 1940s and is an iconic part of Toowoon Bay. Current owner Grace Picot’s father Jim worked at the original bakery before buying it at age 30. Grace and her partner Tim had been travelling Australia working in travel photography until, also around the age of 30, they decided to get out of Sydney and relocate.
It was Tim’s idea to turn the family bakery into a modern hole-in-the-wall coffee shop and within three months his crazy idea was done, the shop was refitted, and it reopened under the name Flour & Co.
“I grew up in a tight-knit community in Avalon on the Northern Beaches and I saw the same sort of thing in Toowoon Bay,” he says.
The connection of Flour & Co to the local community can be seen on every visit. As we chat Tim says a passing hello or gives a friendly nod of acknowledgment to many, while families queue up fresh off the beach for a lunchtime burrito, runners end their route with an iced coffee, and the street front tables are alive with couples, weekend travellers, groups, and dogs in tow.
“The family connection is important. To keep Grace’s family business running after 35 years is special, you don’t see it much anymore and it's so sad to see small businesses close. Supporting local and creating community is the reward.”
In a lovely turn of events for small businesses, Flour & Co managed to emerge from COVID with one success story which was an expansion of their community. As locals stopped commuting to Sydney, they started frequenting the ‘takeaway only’ Flour & Co as a chance to get outside, introducing Tim and Grace to many new faces who are now regulars.
For a small shop front, Flour & Co certainly serves up the goods. Top quality and consistent coffee is paramount with all staff trained the same way regardless of where else they’ve been, while the in-house bakers make everything by hand from loaves and pastries to the famous raw treats and vegan pies.
As someone with dietary allergies herself, Grace was adamant to be able to eat the goods she sold and being a bakery that everyone could indulge in. The range of brekkie and lunch burritos was inspired by Tim’s time in California and often sells out.
As can be expected Tim and Grace extend their passion for community and family to their staff, with freedom and lifestyle core to the values with which they run the business,
“At the end of the day, I feel like my staff is my family and that gets shown to the customers so then the customers become like family too. We only do 6-hour shifts here, the reason being I want everyone to be able to go and surf, go to the beach, enjoy their day, and get the most out of people that way. Cafe hours are long but we want everyone to enjoy where we live rather than working to the bone.”
That is a sentiment we can all get behind, and Flour & Co has no plans to drastically expand but rather to simply evolve what they’ve already created, such as an expanded menu of healthier food and some grab-and-go options.
You can’t say you’ve been to Toowoon Bay if you haven’t visited Flour & Co so next time you’re passing through, pull up a chair on the sidewalk and watch the world go by.