Woke’s Pay-What-You-Feel vegan restaurant chain reportedly went bust because it owed its employees nearly $400,000 — turns out only one in three customers paid for their meals
- Vegan pay-what-you-feel restaurant chain is said to have been insolvent for years
- Trendy chain Lentil as Anything underpaid its employees by up to $400,000
- They reportedly owed $110,000 in wages and more than $250,000 in Super
- The company was so bad at keeping records that they couldn’t find any evidence of illegality
A trendy pay-as-you-feel restaurant chain is said to have been insolvent for years and traded underpaid employees for nearly $400,000.
Lentil as Anything, a popular group of restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne that gives customers a choice of what they pay, survived the pandemic thanks to nearly $400,000 in donations from GoFundMe, but an accounting firm claimed it was a year earlier been fallen below.
Worrells recently sent a report to creditors detailing the company’s mismanagement, which claimed Lentil as Anything was “probably insolvent” as early as June 2019, the Syndey Morning Herald reported.
“Our preliminary position is that the company was probably insolvent on at least June 30, 2019 and probably earlier,” the Worrells report said.
Lentil as Anything collapsed in February 2022 – but a report from an accounting firm claimed it may have been insolvent for three years
Shanaka Fernando, who founded the company, referred to himself as an “elder” in employee emails and as an “aesthetic consultant” in unsigned employment contracts.
The social enterprise has been hailed for its ingenuity and charity, with founder and former banker Shanaka Fernando claiming only 30 percent of its meals were paid for.
“Our restaurants do not have fixed prices. Everyone is welcome to come and eat and pay as they please: by making a financial contribution or by volunteering,” is the company’s mantra.
“Everyone leaves feeling part of an inclusive community.”
The accounting firm says employees were owed at least $110,000 when Lentil as Anything crashed, with an additional $258,491 in retirement savings.
It said creditors were owed up to $600,000 – but there was little chance they would see the money.
Trading during bankruptcy may constitute a civil or criminal offense.
The social enterprise has been hailed for its ingenuity and charity, with founder and former banker Shanaka Fernando claiming only 30 percent of his meals were paid for (pictured: a worker).
Employees were owed $110,000 when Lentil as Anything crashed, with an additional $258,491 in retirement savings
The report found “material deficiencies” in record keeping that result in “the books and records, in their current state, being inadequate for the purpose of preparing and auditing true and fair financial statements.” This is also a possible crime.
The Australian Revenue Commissioner and the Fair Work Ombudsman took action against Lentil as Anything in 2020 before it ceased operations in February this year.
Its eccentric owner said that in its heyday it served more than 1 million meals a year at stores in Newtown in Sydney and in Brunswick and St Kilda in Melbourne.