The pay-as-you-please restaurant Lentil As Anything has reached its crowdfunding goal of $300,000 to prevent going into administration.
Lentil As Anything founder Shanaka Fernando has thanked the community for ‘saving Lentil from the pandemic’. With three out of its four restaurants being closed due to lockdown in Melbourne, revenue that would be received through donations would fall from $100,000 in a week to $5,000 the next.
The restaurant which has always looked out for the vulnerable members of our communities was forced to reach out to the public to save itself from going into administration.
Despite the inability to open, Lentil As Anything has remained able to provide over 130,000 meals for disadvantaged Australians including international students who have been ineligible for government support during the pandemic.
The description of the crowdfunding ad reads:
“20 years ago, a wacky little restaurant without prices opened up in St Kilda. But Lentil as Anything has always been more than just a restaurant without prices. We are a movement for social fairness and inclusion… We have no prices because we believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, together.”
Even during the height of a global pandemic, Lentil As Anything was still committed to social projects aimed at providing meals for those in need. The company also work to support people through employment pathways, barista training, social hospitality course and migrant and refugee support services.
The company said that although they “don’t like to talk about money” due to the generosity of all their donors, they want to be transparent about Lentil’s financial situation, why they have extended the GoFundMe campaign, and how they will be using any funds raised beyond the initial $300,000.
“The $300,000 raised has saved Lentil from imminent threat of administration. Throughout COVID we have not stopped our food relief programs, but our cashflow that had been used to fund those programs virtually disappeared,” the company stated.
The restaurant is in a $500,000 debt according to its GoFundMe, of which $300,000 has now been raised. The company has managed to negotiate $120,000 in loans to be repayed once the business is operating at full capacity. Lentil As Anything are working on strategies to pay the remaining $80,000 debt such as government grants.
The GoFundMe is still up here and able to receive donations that will go towards paying off the debts and funding vital work they do providing meals for everyone, by everyone.