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Locals celebrate reopening of iconic java spot South Side Coffee Co. in Lompoc
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Locals celebrate reopening of iconic java spot South Side Coffee Co. in Lompoc

From the What you need to know for Tuesday, September 29 series

A continuous line of eager patrons snaked out of South Side Coffee Co. on Sunday morning for the shop's reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure of indoor dining at establishments countywide. 

The all-day event also marked a change in ownership, which was made public in early June. 

New shop co-owner Halle Dyer, 27, returned to her barista post after months away, donning a face covering and a focused presence. She welcomed both new and longtime patrons to her reimagined café that now features a funky retro vibe with spinning turntable and bright color scheme.

"I was going to reopen as-is back in June when I originally bought it, but then the governor ordered the stay-at-home, no indoor dining restrictions. So I decided to do some renovations," Dyer explained, while placing two completed coffee orders on the counter and announcing their owners. "I just watched a lot of YouTube videos and [it's been] trial and error."

Although the renovations took a little longer than she and co-owner/mom Heather Bedford had anticipated, Dyer said she's pleased with the results.

"I love the feel of it now," she said. "I kind of wanted to keep the South Side original feel but just dress it up a little more."

Standing in line awaiting her turn, Violet Tyler, a local resident and regular customer rounded up her two excited grandsons Luke, 9, and Liam, 7, who were exploring the new shop's layout.

Hankering for a breakfast bagel sandwich, young Liam said his return to South Side was all about the bagels.

"I love bagels," he said, scanning the shelves with stocked sweet breads. "And I love what they've done with the place." 

Tyler described the reopening as a necessity for her. 

"It feels wonderful to be back," she said. "We've missed this place most of all — me especially, because this is my refuge." 

The frontside patio, soaked in warm morning sun, hosted groups of seated patrons enjoying breakfast and fellowship. 

Food runners delivered breakfast plates with colorful garnishes and cleared dishes to make way for new patrons vying for seating.

Local resident and retired Lompoc educator Hank Gallina sat beneath a patio umbrella, reading and highlight parts of his nonfiction material.

"It's great to see the whole gang here," he said, taking a sip from his coffee mug. "And I'm glad to finally get back to my second office."

Citing a desire to operate with an abundance of caution amid the COVID-19 pandemic, LUSD leaders declined to pursue a reopening waiver. Around the same time as that decision was made, however, district officials announced that teachers would soon be made available after school hours to help support students, and that by the end of September, the district would begin offering Saturday school for students via Zoom.


Lisa André covers local news and lifestyles for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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