Lentil’s Lease Mix Up
MELBOURNE’S ‘pay what you want’ phenomenon ‘Lentil as Anything’ is facing a major setback in its plans to open a fourth restaurant, in North Fitzroy.
The new restaurant was scheduled to be opened on Saturday, 8th May and the opening day was advertised heavily on the restaurant’s website and Facebook page.
However, an unexpected hurdle regarding the new site’s lease agreement has meant the restaurants opening has been indefinitely delayed, and at least until the end of winter.
The Abbotsford restaurant’s store manager, Mangal Mishra said the reason for the delay concerned a mix-up with the previous owner of the lease.
“The guy who promised the lease to us, actually had no right to do so, because he doesn’t own the place,” he said.
Mishra said, “There will be a press release, probably, in the next few days.”
The new restaurant is to be located on St Georges Road at the now vacant and dilapidated site of ‘Kingston Antiques.’
Lentil as Anything has apologized to people who had showed up at the site for the expected opening last Saturday.
There are also a number of lease problems which have emerged over the restaurant’s prized Abbotsford location.
Lentil as Anything two weeks ago met with the board of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF), who are currently reviewing the renewal of their lease for January next year.
The ACF board is responsible for the leasing all 117 tenants at the convent and has made a number of recommendations regarding Lentil’s hopes to renew their lease.
Included in the recommendations, the ACF board is looking for a change in the management system of Lentil as Anything to demonstrate compliance in areas including, but not limited to; liquor licensing, food handling and preparation, waste management and noise.
ACF Chairman, Hayden Raysmith revealed in a letter to Lentil as Anything on April 19 that there has been more than 100 reports, incidents and actions in relation to the restaurant placed on management files in the past four years.
“These matters, such as waste management and liquor consumption, have consumed considerable ACF management time which we believe would be better spent on site development” he said.
“More external involvement should also reduce tensions between ACF management and Lentil as Anything. This tension is inevitable when there are so many issues arising,” he said.
Mr. Raysmith also noted that by confronting these issues now, there is sufficient time for Lentil as Anything to develop compliance processes and “demonstrate their effectiveness ahead of the Board considering whether to grant a new lease.”
A press release on the Abbotsford convent website posted on April 28 stated that the current ACF board was “full of admiration for the ‘terrific’ concept and philosophy of Lentil as Anything.”
The press release claims that Lentil as Anything conceded that it can do things better and also highlights that part of the problem is to do with the restaurant’s run away success which has created a number of pressures, caused by large attendances.
Lentil as Anything correspondent Sharnaka Fernando said, “We understand the importance of getting it right and we are actually very grateful to the ACF board for its current level of engagement in this issue.”
“We are confident, at the moment that the ACF will renew the lease but we also understand that we have a long way to go” she said.
Mr. Raysmith did not wish to make any further comment, beyond the current press release, regarding the issue.
Pictures below from top left (click to enlarge): The new North Fitzroy site on St Georges Road; The old ‘Kingston Antiques Store’; The store closed down and run down; The outdoor dining area at Abbotsford Lentil; The Lentil As Anything Menu; The Abbotsford Convent, where Lentils is fighting to keep its lease.
The site for the new Lentil as Anything restaurant.