More than jazz, soft rock or electronic music, there is one sound that rings out at almost every cafe in the Illawarra.
The three notes in the Uber Eats notification are a backdrop as synonymous with cafes as the hiss of the steam wand or the tap of the coffee portafilter in the knock bin.
But there are a few cafes in the centre of Wollongong that hear this sound much less frequently than their counterparts around the city.
Cafe owners in Crown Street Mall say the lack of access for cars and bicycles to their front doors limit their ability to use platforms such as Uber Eats and Menulog.
The complication adds to the litany of woes that face hospitality businesses in Crown Street Mall.
Gong Cafe owner Manoj Budhathoki said he had already dropped DoorDash, because of drivers being unable to find the cafe in time.
"The drivers that don't know they just go around Kembla Street and Church Street and they can't get in," he said.
When delivery drivers drop jobs because they can't pick up the order, the cafe falls down the app's algorithmically generated rankings, leading to fewer orders, creating a self-defeating cycle.
Currently, the stretch of Crown Street between Keira and Kembla streets is closed to vehicles and bicycles.
Mr Budhathoki said that those who were located close to the edges and Church street in the middle, could access delivery services better, as well as those who backed on to rear lanes such as Court Lane and Simpson Place, however with both accessways being one-way streets and with limited parking this was an inconsistent solution.
A spokesperson for Wollongong City Council said delivery drivers could use existing car parking areas, such as private parking stations and on-street parking.
"We're committed to improving high turnover parking for our kerbside delivery to support economic development of our city," the spokesperson said.
"The boom of this industry after COVID has required us to rethink our road space and as a result, we have trialled and implemented changes that respond to the increased demand."
Delivery apps have been a lifeline for cafes, particularly as consumers cut back on going out.
Mr Budhathoki said it would be difficult to estimate how much revenue he was missing out on, but said he had the capacity to meet additional orders.
He suggested a special permit for bicycle delivery drivers would improve access for riders, with council having considered opening up the mall to cyclists before.
The Wollongong council spokesperson said there were changes on the way for traffic movement in the CBD, which would include options for deliveries.
"Council is currently developing a Wollongong City Centre Movement & Place Plan which is due for draft completion and community consultation early 2024," the spokesperson said.
"The document once adopted will set direction and provide recommendations to support delivery platforms in and around Crown Street Mall."
With multiple businesses in the mall having already changed hands this year, that change may come too late for some.
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