The women’s fashion and bamboo toothbrush shop that was Animal Lovers by Neo Tokyo gradually morphed into a vegan cafe over the past couple of years, first by reducing and selling off the fashion and by selling coffee, then by introducing meals and also selling organic fruit and vegetables. Then it did some dinners in addition to the standard breakfast and lunch daytime cafe service.
But now it’s closed, with the claim in the window that it’s hibernating – in other words that the closure is temporary and that it will reopen after renovations. A rather breathless article in a real estate website discusses, without linking to, supposed online outrage about the presumed permanent closure.
I’m cynical as I’ve seen this before – supposed temporary closures being announced as amateur small business owners struggle with reality before becoming permanent as reality gets too real. Their coffee was good so it will be a shame if they are gone for good, and it will be a loss to the otherwise growing vegetarian and vegan food precinct on Brunswick St.
It’s been a while since my last Smith St lunch post. Lunches have been consumed of course, but my mind has been elsewhere. On a recent walk along the southern end of Smith St I was sad to discover that the Collingwood Curry Cafe has not survived. In its place is the relatively new Pho 365.
All bowls of pho there are $8, which is very cheap, and it’s good. The basil and bean shoots were fresh and crisp. I had the basic beef pho and as usual no matter how hungry I feel getting to the bottom of the bowl is a challenge. Compared to the $12 pho at Coconut Palms, Pho 365 is a very enjoyable bargain. It’s similar in quality to Mr Juice, where the pho is also $8. Smith St, I love you.
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.