ANU and The Gods Face Legal Battle

The future of The Gods Café and Bar is in the hands of lawyers, despite the ANU declaring it is working ‘in good faith’ with the owners to secure the popular café’s future.

On Friday 17 March Woroni revealed that negotiations between the café’s management and the university had broken down over plans to move the café to the pop-up village during the Union Court redevelopment.

The Arts Centre, home of The Gods Café, is slated for demolition, despite the popular lunch spot and coffee destination having a lease until 2023.

A spokesman for the ANU said: ‘Many existing vendors and some new ones have committed to be part of the pop-up.

‘ANU is keen to have The Gods café to be part of the pop-up and revitalised Union Court, and continues to work in good faith to that outcome.’

‘We’re not talking,’ the manager of the café, Jaye, said on 16 March of the negotiation process with the ANU.

‘ANU has no problem getting external business, and we can’t stop that,’ Jaye, said on 15 March.

At the Union Court redevelopment update meeting on Thursday 16 March, the executive director of administration and planning, Chris Grange, confirmed that there would be an increase in vendors in the redeveloped Union Court precinct. He said there was a focus on smaller spaces, meaning lower rents for vendors – with the hope for lower costs for students.

Grange said there would be a ‘mix of old and new vendors’ in the redeveloped Union Court.

No reference was made specifically to The Gods Café.

The Gods has been under threat since the ANU announced plans to demolish the Arts Centre, the home of the café for three decades.

The manager of the café, Jaye, said on 15 March that he did not have ‘a good feeling towards the whole negotiation process.’

‘It is not very certain at the moment. We have been trying very hard to negotiate with the university,’ he said.

The Gods had been offered a space in the pop-up village, but Jaye has said that ‘the issue is whether the spot is going to work for us’.

It has since been confirmed that there is no agreement in place.

Jaye said on 15 March that the ‘vibe’ of Gods was an extremely important part of campus life. ‘If a café has been in a place more than 10 years, it becomes an institution. Gods has been around more than three decades. It’s more a part of the history.’

For some people, manager Jaye said, a visit to The Gods is as regular as brushing their teeth.

‘So much time and effort has been put into making the space special, and seeing it being taken away so soon is really sad,’ Gods staff member Rhiannon Paddick told Woroni.

A co-worker, Harry Cohen, stressed the ‘vibe’ of Gods, and said that losing this would be a tragedy for ANU students.

Meanwhile, Teatro Vivaldi has been given an eviction notice from the Arts Centre.

The restaurant, which has been the venue of countless theatre and cabaret events over the last 14 years and has a history spanning 35 years, has no future after the demolition of the Arts Centre and will close in early June.

Anthony Hill, who has run the restaurant with Mark Santos, said that the ANU had evicted the business and there had been no interest shown in Teatro Vivaldi moving to the pop-up village.

‘We have to be out by 30 June,’ Hill said, noting that Teatro Vivaldi had been asking the ANU for a new lease for the last four years. The eviction notice followed once the restaurant and cabaret venue was informed the lease would not be renewed.

‘In the past, we were really made to feel part of the community,’ Hill said, ‘But some elements didn’t see us in the future of the university.’

It is still unknown when the demolition of the Arts Centre will begin. When questioned on Thursday 16 March, the Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Marnie Hughes-Warrington, said at a Union Court update meeting that the date would not be known until it was confirmed when The Gods would be vacating their premises.

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