By: Vivienne Pearson
This is a story about parents handing on a family business to their children – with a twist.
Reif and Lachie Hand’s parents ran the Byron Corner Store from 1998 till 2003. Reif was a teenager at the time and worked for his parents. Lachie, being the younger brother, was too young to work but reckons he spent quite a bit of time in the store ‘just eating lollies’.
Fast forward – past two other owners of the business – to earlier this month, when the brothers took over the lease themselves.
‘The world was a different place back fifteen years ago,’ says Reif. ‘The Byron Corner Store sold sandwiches but was more of a convenience store, selling groceries, phone cards and even photo developing.’
It was the sandwiches that Lachie missed most after his parents moved on from the store. ‘I just couldn’t get a sandwich any more and I was a bit bitter about it,’ he says. The idea of taking on the business lurked in the background. ‘I was half-joking but I kept a bit of an eye on it,’ he says.
When the lease came up, Lachie rang Reif, who was running the Cuda Bar in Lorne, Victoria, suggesting that they take it on. ‘I swapped nights for days,’ says Reif, a move that suited him now that he has a baby daughter. Their parents were fully supportive, including helping with the refit and setup.
Unsurprisingly, sandwiches are a cornerstone of the new version of The Byron Corner Store. There’s a greater choice of bread than 15 years ago but otherwise the options are not that different. ‘We’re keeping it fairly old school,’ says Leif. ‘You can get a simple salad sandwich for less than $6.’
The sangas are supplemented by specials – a pulled pork and apple slaw roll on the day I visited. Coffee is a strong point, including a coffee window facing Jonson Street that opens bright and early for passing foot traffic.
There’s much more passing traffic than 15 years ago. ‘This end of the street was like the end of the world – it was this and the newsagent, then nothing,’ recalls Lachie. Now, the Byron Corner store, located in the Disson’s building (the Disson family still own the building), is pretty much in the centre of town. If you like your sandwiches ‘old school’, it might just become the centre of your world.
Corner of Jonson and Byron Streets, Byron Bay. Facebook: @byroncornerstore