Lentil As Anything Inc. (Lentil) is a group of pay as you feel, not for profit vegetarian and vegan Australian restaurants founded by Shanaka Fernando. Restaurants are located in Melbourne and Sydney and operate on a similar model to pay what you can. Lentil is named after the Australian new wave band Mental As Anything.
Lentil is a multicultural, refugee-friendly, organisation and was registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in 2000 . There are currently four Lentil locations, the first of which opened in 2000 in St. Kilda and the largest being located at the former Abbotsford Convent. The most recent restaurant opened in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury in 2015, and seven other locations have opened and later closed in the group's history.
Live music, world music, films, and artworks are often performed and displayed at the restaurants, particularly at Abbotsford and Thornbury, where the restaurants have become public meeting places with many patrons travelling from the north and east. It notably catered for the Green New Deal Conference in Melbourne in 2009.
The restaurants wholly rely on the generosity of their patrons, volunteers and suppliers to operate. Patrons are asked to "pay what they feel" the meal, service and beverages are worth by contributing an amount of their choice into a box at the counter. The Abbotsford and St. Kilda locations initially faced large financial debt due to mismanagement and other factors, many of which have since been resolved.
In 2016, it was reported that its Newtown restaurant was operating at a loss as the average patron payment was less than $3.
Also in 2016, the Abbotsford restaurant introduced a number of changes to prevent freelancing such as no BYO alcohol and asking people to move on if they spent an unreasonable amount of time at the restaurant.
In 2010, The Naked Lentil, a documentary on the restaurant and its founder Shanaka Fernando was aired by SBS. Fernando (with Greg Hill) published the book Lentil as Anything: Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table in 2012.
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