News, Culture & Society

Lentil as Anything restaurant in Sydney and Melbourne ‘went broke owing staff almost $400,000

Woke ‘pay-what-you-feel’ vegan restaurant chain allegedly went broke owing staff almost $400,000 – as it’s revealed only 1 in 3 customers forked out for their meals

  • Vegan pay-what-you-feel restaurant chain allegedly operated insolvent for years
  • Trendy chain Lentil as Anything underpaid its employees up to $400,000
  • Report says they owed $110,000 in wages and more than $250,000 in super
  • Company were so bad at record-keeping they couldn’t find proof of illegalities

A trendy pay-as-you-feel restaurant chain allegedly traded while insolvent for years and underpaid employees by nearly $400,000.

Lentil as Anything, a popular group of eateries in Sydney and Melbourne that lets customers choose what they pay, survived the pandemic thanks to nearly $400k in GoFundMe donations but an accounting firm alleged it went under a year earlier.

Worrells sent a recent report to creditors detailing the mismanagement of the company, which alleged Lentil as Anything was ‘likely insolvent’ as far back as June, 2019, the Syndey Morning Herald reported.

‘It is our preliminary position that the company was likely insolvent from at least 30 June, 2019, and likely earlier,’ the Worrells report said.

Lentil as Anything collapsed in February 2022 – but a report from an accounting firm alleged it may have been operating while insolvent for as long as three years

Shanaka Fernando, who founded the company, referred to himself as an 'elder' on staff emails and an 'aesthetics consultant' on unsigned employment contracts

Shanaka Fernando, who founded the company, referred to himself as an ‘elder’ on staff emails and an ‘aesthetics consultant’ on unsigned employment contracts

The social enterprise was celebrated for its ingenuity and charity, with founder and former banker Shanaka Fernando claiming just 30 per cent of its meals were paid for.

‘Our restaurants have no set prices. Everyone is welcome to come for a meal and pay-as-they-feel: through a financial contribution or volunteering,’ the company’s mantra reads.

‘All leave with the feeling that they are part of an inclusive community.’ 

The accounting firm say employees were owed at least $110,000 when Lentil as Anything crashed, with a further $258,491 in superannuation.

It said creditors were owed up to $600,000 – but said there is little chance they will see the money. 

Trading while insolvent can be a civil or criminal offence. 

The social enterprise was celebrated for its ingenuity and charity, with founder and former banker Shanaka Fernando claiming just 30 per cent of its meals were paid for (pictured: A worker)

The social enterprise was celebrated for its ingenuity and charity, with founder and former banker Shanaka Fernando claiming just 30 per cent of its meals were paid for (pictured: A worker)

Employees were owed $110,000 when Lentil as Anything crashed, with a further $258,491 in superannuation

Employees were owed $110,000 when Lentil as Anything crashed, with a further $258,491 in superannuation

The report found ‘material deficiencies’ in record keeping which ‘render the books and records in their current state insufficient to enable true and fair financial statements to be prepared and audited.’ This is also a possible offence.

The Australian Tax Office and Fair Work Ombudsman took action against Lentil as Anything in 2020, before it ended operations in February this year.

Its eccentric owner said at its peak it served more than 1million meals per year through stores in Sydney’s Newtown, and Brunswick and St Kilda in Melbourne. 



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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk