If you're going to sit yourself down in someone's restaurant, eat their specially cooked food from their own personal dishes, drink their juices and leave them to clean up your mess, you'd feel like paying right? You'd think most Australians would, but Melbourne-founded 'pay-what-you-feel' restaurant Lentil as Anything is watching customer by customer happily walk out without paying much (or anything) at all.
Reported by Good Food, the popular chain is losing money — a lot of money. Apparently people aren't as generous as they thought when the not-for-profit organisation first set up the bill honour system — mainly as a means to get much needed, good vegetarian food to people of a lower socioeconomic status. But it looks like people are genuinely stingy bastards and treating the joint as a free feed. LAA is operating at a major loss — GF reports the Abbotsford restaurant lost $4000 in one night, despite serving 1500 people (who'd just returned from Rainbow Serpent festival). This averaged out to about $2.75 a head. Well done, y'jerks.
Lentil as Anything has no prices on their menu. The Melbourne and Sydney restaurants are entirely funded by donations with the kind and probably naive motto "everyone deserves a place at the table". GF reports roughly one million meals are served by LAA across the four restaurants each year, with running costs getting up to $24,000 per venue per week. To help this even out, you're advised to leave around $12 to cover the meal and the general running of the joint. But if you don't pay them properly, they pay for your dinner themselves. They pay for you to eat their deliciously healthy food in their dining room from their plates. If you can't pay, you're encouraged volunteer in the kitchen or come back later and pay the difference.
Amazingly, Lentil as Anything intend to keep running their business with their philosophy intact. So, if you're the giant stingebucket robbing this goodhearted chain of their livelihood, or you've seen 'friends' leave a couple of bucks for a giant LAA meal, check yourself. Don't be a tightass and leave Lentil as Anything what they're due.