People love the coastline and community around Lennox Head. There are not only more visitors, but more people are moving there too, with the number of dwellings in some areas such as Skennars Head, Cumbalum and Tintenbar forecast to double in 20 years to 2036.
No one likes more people in their surf break, but a growing population often brings a better choice of restaurants, of which the neighbourhood gem, Shelter, is a good example. It’s been a fast and successful two years since their opening, with the relaxed, coastal restaurant gaining a hat in the SMH Good Food Guide after the first year, and now experiencing a surge in demand for weddings and functions.
‘There’s been a lot of development near Lennox’, says co-owner and front-of-house Andrew Love, ‘which means that we have to continually embrace new people and welcome them into the community, and learn new names and faces. We really want to be a place that locals can be proud to bring their friends when they are on holidays, but where everyone will feel comfortable. We’re going for an approachable, yet polished, vibe’, he says, laughing.
The new ‘gem’ at Shelter is the glass-fronted Cupola, a 2 bedroom fully self-contained luxury spot above the restaurant. It’s understandably popular for weddings. Last weekend the bride got ready upstairs, the wedding was across the road on the beach, the reception was downstairs at Shelter and then the lucky couple ‘retired’ upstairs.
Since you can order room service, it’s got views of the famous Lennox point from its all-glass front, and it has the sort of tasteful styling most potential spouses appreciate, it’s not hard to see why it’s popular – increasingly so with couples who are looking to Lennox as an alternative to Byron.
‘We’re proud of Cupola’, says Andrew, ‘but downstairs you can still expect our usual offering; we still have the same head chef (Dennis Baker) and the basic attitude to good service and good food. What has changed is that I feel we’ve gone from being the new kid in town, to being embraced by the community, which is important to us, as we are here for the long haul’.
Shelter seems like a good place to work, and indeed all the staff have been there for more than a year, surely something of a record in the transient hospitality profession. ‘That’s good for us’, says Andrew, ‘as it’s the staff that make the restaurant, and they get to know the locals… but I think we’ll need some more staff over summer, it’s getting busier and busier’, he adds.
Andrew, who in addition to sharing front-of-house duties with co-owner Troy Noonan, manages the wine list, is a firm believer in supporting the smaller, independent producers, and says that limited availability can be a good thing, as it keeps the wine list changing.
But for all the changes, the one thing that still seems to be fun is running the restaurant. ‘Yes, it’s a lot of work, but we still enjoy running the restaurant together’, laughs Andrew, ‘we feel that it’s just going to keep getting better in Lennox’.
Shelter Lennox – 41 Pacific Parade.
Open 7 days 6.30am–3pm, and dinner
Ph 6687 7757 shelterlennox.com.au