The once-booming vegan dining scene in Queensland has hit a rough patch, with several plant-based eateries facing closures and others reluctantly introducing meat options to stay afloat. Cinnamon and Co, a beloved plant-based cafe in Brisbane’s West End, which announced its closure on October 8, cited the challenging financial climate as the primary reason for the sudden closure.
Economic conditions, coupled with the challenge of catering to a limited vegan demographic, have made it increasingly difficult for many vegan restaurants to survive. This sentiment was echoed by Cinnamon and Co Vegan Cafe owner Tasia Amber.
“I imagine this comes as a shock. It does to us too. Without going into all the details, know that we did not expect this.,” she said in a social media post.
“The dream was to continue making beautiful food and hosting wonderful events for years to come. But this financial climate is crushing to small businesses, so here we are.”
Last month, the closure of the once-popular vegan burger bar, Grass Fed in South Brisbane, raised concerns among vegans and food enthusiasts alike as the establishment fell victim to the same economic pressures.
These closures are part of a broader trend that has seen various vegan eateries shutter their operations in recent months. The Cardamom Pod in Broadbeach, considered one of Queensland’s original plant-based eateries, faced insurmountable challenges due to soaring rents and rising food and staff costs. Enoki Coffee & Co in Stafford Heights and Gopal’s Pure Vegetarian in Maroochydore also succumbed to similar pressures.
Vegan cafe Pancha in Hamilton opted to introduce meat options to its menu as a means of survival. Co-owner Petch Berge explained that potential customers often walked out when they realised the restaurant was vegan, showing a reluctance to try plant-based dishes. Since incorporating meat offerings, the business has seen a 20% improvement in its bottom line.
The challenges faced by vegan eateries in Queensland have prompted a reevaluation of their business models. Stean Kelly, the new owner of the former plant-based cafe Grown in West End, acknowledged that the perception of being exclusively vegan was a deterrent to some customers. As a result, he introduced meat options to the menu, which quickly became the dominant choice for patrons.
Veganism continues to grow in popularity, however, the challenging economic climate makes it difficult to maintain exclusively plant-based menus. Many restaurant owners have found that diversifying their offerings to include meat is a necessary step to secure their businesses’ future.