The Cape Live / Lounge has been a sad and unloved venue for some time now. It got a rebrand and relaunch in January last year and by last September it was trying to extend its opening hours but that didn’t save it. Its been operating only on the weekends for years now and not making use of the building most of the week. Their Facebook page says the lease ended. The previous operator was prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman for illegally underpaying staff.
Examples of other nearby businesses suggest that taking over an existing space and radically transforming it can be successful (the Cider House is a good example). Trying to do the same old thing doesn’t work. For this building to be occupied by a successful business, something significant needs to change. It needs new style, new purpose and new customers.
Where Mana gaming bar used to be is now a new vegetarian / vegan cafe called Radhey Kitchen and Chai Bar. As a merely underemployed person, I took an unemployed vegetarian friend there for lunch recently to talk about our circumstances and compare experiences. Being one of these freezing wet wintery days we both wanted hot food, and ordered the same chickpea and vegetable coconut curry, which is served with a papadum and rice. It was extremely satisfying, with carrot, potato and sweet potato and walnuts as well as lots of spices.
We then each had a chai latte, and separate desserts: pecan pie for her and chocolate brownie for me. Both were delicious but the brownie taking me by surprise with a blast of banana flavour. Be warned: this is dense stuff that will challenge you to finish it but finish it I did. With charming staff offering friendly service, and a key point of difference in offering a specialty chai bar, Radhey fits well into the growing vegetarian / vegan precinct on Brunswick St and has something unique to offer. You don’t need to be vegetarian or vegan to enjoy what Radhey is serving.
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This does not surprise me. In the aftermath of the financial collapse of the Brunswick St Cycles empire, the former Brunswick St Cycles shop on Brunswick St was rebadged to become Bikes on Brunswick, using the same showroom minus the adjacent workshop (which is now Côté).
If you thought that BSC’s prices were uncompetitive, BoB’s were worse, with a basic tube costing almost double what you would pay at the nearby Famous Melbourne Bicycle Centre on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill. There’s not enough lazy ignorant customers around here willing to pay unreasonably inflated prices to support the cost of Brunswick St rent to make this shop sustainable.