Lentil as Anything

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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.


There are currently four Lentil restaurants, the first of which opened in 2000 in St. Kilda and the largest being located at the former Abbotsford Convent. The most recent venue opened in Melbourne suburb of Thornbury in 2015, and six other locations have opened and later closed in the group's history. Lentil is a multicultural, refugee-friendly organisation, and was registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in 2000.[1][2]

Dining experience[edit]

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.[3][4] Food is sourced from local organic food suppliers, prepared on site and often served in buffet style allowing guests to choose their own meals. There is also a large range of vegan and gluten free options with the exception of the Newtown, Thornbury and Preston locations where everything is vegan. All locations also feature espresso coffee and some cakes. Lentil as Anything also offers a catering service and notably catered for the Green New Deal conference in Melbourne in 2009.[citation needed]

Pay what you feel model[edit]

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.[5]

In 2016, it was reported that its Newtown restaurant was operating at a loss as the average patron payment was less than $3.[6]

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.[7]

In the media[edit]

In 2010, The Naked Lentil, a documentary on the restaurant and its founder Shanaka Fernando was aired by SBS.[8]




  • Brunswick - opened 2000, closed 2008
  • Lentil as Africa - Brunswick, opened 2005, closed 2007
  • Belgrave - opened 2006, closed 2007
  • Lentil at Fed Square - at Art Play, Birrarung Marr, opened 2008, closed 2009
  • Collingwood - Collingwood College, opened 2008, closed 2011
  • Preston - opened 2013, closed 2016
  • Footscray - opened 2009, closed 2017

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Valent, Dani (October 16, 2006). "Lentil As Anything". The Age. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Registered Charity - ACNC". Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Grace, Robyn (2010-04-01). "Abbotsford Convent board out of touch, says Lentil as Anything founder". The Age. Retrieved 2017-05-23. 
  5. ^ Quinn, Karl (2013-01-06). "The Lentil messiah or just a very naughty boy?". Good Food. Retrieved 2017-05-23. 
  6. ^ "Cheapskate diners driving eatery to ruin". Retrieved 2017-05-23. 
  7. ^ "Freeloaders told to move on". Retrieved 2017-05-23. 
  8. ^ "Naked Lentil on SBS". www.sbs.com.au. Retrieved 2017-05-23. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°52′13.37″S 144°58′51.64″E / 37.8703806°S 144.9810111°E / -37.8703806; 144.9810111