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‘Pay as you feel’ restaurants in Australia

The article is written by Paola Bianchi   All pics are from Lentil As Anything Media kit

Not everything in Australia is ‘super expensive’, as many says. There are strong community-focused organisations and projects offering inclusion and opportunities. Lentil As Anything is one of them.


In 2000, the first restaurant Lentil As Anything was born in St Kilda, Melbourne. The founder, Sri Lankan Shanaka Fernando, had the idea of a restaurant where the menu has no prices and a ‘pay as you feel’ modality. The vision state that everyone deserves a place in the table.

3 table

I have to admit, is rare to see such an open-heart and risky strategy for an enterprise in a city. With the help of volunteers, his vision succeeded.

This no-profit restaurant multiplicated and opened 2 more locations in Melbourne and 1 in Sydney.

4 location abbotsford
Without a doubt, Abbotsford location is amazing. It’s within Convent premises!

The first time I went to one of these restaurants I judged. I expected to be dull and insipid food. I assumed that nobody was going to pay. But I was wrong.

5 food

I was surprised by the high-quality food, the beautiful dishes presentation and the remarkable flavours. Simple and delicious vegetarian food. Nice and cosy ambient where people were enjoying. And the Contribution-Box was full.

6 food variety

It does not matter how much you are willing to pay. Lots of people frequent these restaurants paying just as little to cover their dessert, to as much to cover their own and other’s meal!

Bookings, catering and ever Uber Eats accepted in some locations!

The venues are run by volunteers mainly, although there is some paid stable staff. You are welcome to offer your time to just help or pay for your meal, get training or get experience in the Hospitality Industry.

7 volunteers

Watch this short film about Lentil As Anything to have a better understanding of this amazing project that combines generosity and inclusion through their meals.


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