According to The Age the not for profit organisation completely funded by customer donations, operates four vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne and another in Sydney.
There have been incidents when a lack of donations has meant the restaurant chain has been working at a loss, but figures reported from the Abbotsford branch after a busy day suggest a loss of $4000.
Lentil as Anything provides a healthy and enjoyable dining experience for everyone. There is no set price and customers donate whatever they wish into the collection boxes.
Signs at each of the restaurants suggest a donation of $12 will cover the cost of a meal and assist with overheads. People who cannot afford to contribute are encouraged to volunteer in the restaurant or contribute another time.
Founder of the chain Shanaka Fernando said that the community had been very generous and supportive in keeping the restaurants up and running since the first one opened in 2000.
It is difficult to ignore the fact that some customers treat the restaurant as a place to go and eat for free. After a music festival the Abbotsford restaurant collected $3995 form 1457 people, many returning from the event. Staff have since posted “We are not a spot to get a free feed after so long hours partying on the dance floor.”
“Overall we are strong and sustainable,” Fernando said. Every now and then we get hit by something like this and we just need to remind people that if they think their actions are not impacting on us, then think again.”
There are no plans to remove the pay as you feel model. Fernando said “We are trying to put the onus on people to show that people are intelligent and people have got integrity.”