Sprout Café, Eden


Situated on the calm blue waters of Twofold Bay, along the aptly named Sapphire Coast, Eden NSW makes for an ideal stop for any traveller.

The history of Sprout Café

Opening their doors in 2012, Sprout Café started with the intention of establishing a unique, dynamic business, as well as assisting a struggling town. The industries of logging and fishing, which had featured prominently in Eden’s past were winding down and the town’s survival was dependent on a tourism-focused future.

Owner, Karen Lott is committed to building community and local tourism, together with protecting the environment, which is where the ‘Grow for Eden’ project comes in. The project itself encourages local gardeners to sell Sprout their excess fruit and vegetables to be sold in the shop or used in the café kitchen. The skilled chefs of Sprout create a vibrant menu which reflects the seasons, while catering to a wide range of dietary needs.

How has the last 12 months affected the business?

January is normally the busiest month of the year, it’s when they make the majority of their money from the tourists who flock to Eden and is usually enough to tide them over during the quieter winter months.

Even though Eden has remained relatively untouched by the fires – compared with the damage wrought in the town of Mallacoota, south of the border – its proximity to them and the impact of road closures and a mandatory tourist evacuation order for a huge section of the state’s south-east in the middle of January have had a devastating effect on local businesses. The café had to let go of its full-time cook, and the staff that are left have had their hours reduced significantly.

However, it wasn’t just the effects of the fires that have caused flow-on effects for the business. The heavy floods in February caused havoc and just as things were getting back to normal with Easter right around the corner – COVID-19 occurred, causing Sprout to go into hibernation for 10 weeks. While the business was allowed to reopen a few weeks ago, the peak in COVID-19 cases in neighboring Victoria has proved damaging with the loss of tourist visitors.

How are things today?

Karen says that as a business owner, the uncertainty and wondering whether people will eventually choose not to come to cafes at all plays heavily on her mind. The impact of online shopping has greatly affected not only her business, but other businesses in the small town. Big business are able to deliver goods quickly, while smaller, local stores often have to wait on receiving orders of a minimum before they can place an order – which means wait times for the consumer may be longer.

While Sprout has been eligible for grants including JobKeeper for their staff, the long term effects of a pandemic that occurred so close on the heels of a catastrophic bushfire season has been undoubtedly hard for many in the community.

How you can help

Karen has this clear message for visitors: “Return when you can! The natural areas are truly beautiful and spectacular, we have amazing whale watching in season and fabulous weather all year round.”

Why do road trips matter to your business?

Has your business been impacted by extreme weather or lack of tourism?